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Tips, advice, and information for South African business owners

28 Dec

Being Better

New Year resolutions may feel like a contemporary exercise in self-improvement, but they actually date back several millennia to ancient Babylonian rituals. The tradition was adopted by successive civilizations, although their religious roots have been largely supplanted by secular interests.

The gist of any New Year’s resolution is to strive for something better. A variety of factors impact the likelihood of actually following through with our commitments, but one of the most important is the extent to which our resolutions are personally meaningful instead of an effort to accrue social credit. This is an inherent challenge with any social engineering campaign or personal intervention: encouraging someone to change is a lot easier than convincing them to value the change enough to stick to it.

There is an important business lesson here. Being better is an integral part of any growth strategy since repeating what you have always done is unlikely to propel your venture to the next level. And, as with New Year resolutions, entrepreneurs are spoilt for choice when deciding what to improve.

There is, however, one very important difference between personal and business resolutions: while the former should be informed by what you personally value, the latter should be driven by what your market values. In short, be better at something that your customers appreciate.

This may sound obvious in theory, but in practice it turns out to be incredibly challenging because most of us are so emotionally invested in our business. We care deeply about our products or services and their intended benefits. Therefore, many of our decisions are based on what we personally like and the (usually unconscious) assumption that our customers will appreciate the same.  

If the New Year has stoked your ambition, then channel that energy into something that your market will value. Better to be better at nothing than be better at something that your market doesn’t care about.

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