Don’t be afraid to change to grow your business

MARYSVILLE – I’ve always wanted to run my own business. But I’ve never had the guts, or the money, to take the risk.

I have all the respect in the world for people who do. But I also know that many businesses fail.

Andrew Ballard of Marketing Solutions gave a talk recently on how to avoid that pitfall. While everyone who starts a business has to overcome fear to do that, Ballard said fear is one of the things that can keep those businesses from succeeding.

He spoke at the second Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He is the author of the book, “Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter, It’s Your Customer’s.”

“Don’t shoot from the hip and guess,” he said.

Change is hard and many businesses don’t do enough researching before they start, and they don’t change quick enough to last.

He said those who make it and those who don’t have one main difference – those who make it realize it often takes failure to achieve success.

Ballard said it takes three things to help a business grow.

•Vision – What is your preferred outcome? Brainstorm. Where do you want to end up?

•Insight – Gather information. Without data you easily can go off task. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where are you and where do you want to end up? What do your customers say they want? How can you be better the your competition?

•Innovation – What’s going to make you extra special so it will be a better experience for customers? What can set your apart? He mentioned the I-phone, invented in 2007, but in 11 years there have been 45 updates. How can you be unique?

Ballard said that process can help people in many things in life – not just a corporate model.

As a case study, he mentioned many years ago he was named the CEO of the March of Dimes, which was struggling in donations. He then was introduced to Baby Rose, who weighed only 1 1/4 pounds when delivered at 22 weeks old. When she grabbed his pinky, “that experience changed my life.” The “fragility of her clinging to life humanized our vision.” They changed their model as a result and had success. While Baby Rose was the inspiration, the team made it happen.

Certainly if I was going to open a business, I would do as much research as I could. I would find something that has low risk and high reward. So being my own boss in the newspaper business is out of the question. But when I retire I might look into a running a daycare for seniors. It’s low-risk and high reward personally and financially. And we need more of them. They can save families so much money, and they give your loved ones a great change during the day.

Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times. His Backseat Coach column runs as the need arises.

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