Ever attend a webinar that made you wait until the very end to learn whatever it was they promised to teach you? I won’t do that.
Without further ado, here’s the secret to success as a business owner: There is no secret.
I probably sound like a Debbie Downer, but nonetheless I feel compelled to shout it from the rooftops. Why? I’ve noticed a scary trend of business gurus making big promises about their “foolproof methods” and “simple 3-step programs” for guaranteed success.
As an example, I just saw a sponsored post in my Facebook feed from a productivity coach. It was about how implementing her perfect morning routine was the key to succeeding in business and in life. A bit down in the scroll was a post from a coach who prescribed 5 steps for making 6 figures. That was followed by a Pinterest pro promising 3 tactics to go from 0 to 100k page views in a month.
I’m sick of these pie-in-the-sky promises. While these folks likely share some good information, the way they package it is obnoxious. Selling generic, one-size-fits-all advice as if it’s the only or best way of doing something, or as if it can deliver guaranteed results for everyone? That’s dangerous.
The problem is they’re preying on a pretty vulnerable group. New or struggling entrepreneurs want to believe those promises. They need to believe them.
Starting and running a business is hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated by all the things required of a solopreneur—marketing, sales, networking, accounts payable and receivable, taxes, customer relations, etc. That’s a lot for most entrepreneurs, who often started their businesses to pursue a single passion.
Most business owners aren’t MBAs; they haven’t received formal training on the myriad elements of running a business. They turn to books, podcasts, social media, and the like for help. And by the time they take this step, they may already feel close to giving up. They’re looking for something, anything to save them from throwing in the towel.
They know about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year—50% by their fifth year—and they’re desperate not to become a statistic.
When someone promises sure-fire success, of course they bite. They buy into it (even if their gut tells them it’s too good to be true) because the truth that there is no secret formula is too hard to bear.
You can’t do 3 prescribed things, follow 5 universal steps, or copy/paste someone else’s road map and—poof!—suddenly turn your business into a well-oiled, money-making machine. That’s not how business works, and anyone who says otherwise is simply trying to get your money.
This is not to say you can’t learn from these gurus and their amazing programs. Of course you can. You can learn best practices and things that worked for them. The key is understanding they won’t necessarily work the same way for you.
That perfect morning routine of meditation, yoga, journaling, and a healthy breakfast may have worked miracles for the 24-year-old woman touting it. But if you have 2 young children to get off to school, it may not quite work the same way for you.
Or, the strategist sharing Pinterest tactics that took her from 0 to 100k page views may fail to mention she did them in 2012. They worked when the site was new and uncrowded, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help you find traction in today’s saturated space.
Here’s the truth. Every business and every business owner is unique. Your challenges are different from everyone else’s and they require custom solutions. Forget a copy-paste roadmap. You need your roadmap.
Stop throwing money at plug-and-play solutions. Instead, trust your gut more and do what feels right for you. Learn from others, but always through the lens of it does and doesn’t apply to your particular situation. Take what you learn and create a custom solution (or hire a business coach to help you do it).
The secret to success? Stop believing there is a secret.