Sometimes the “experts” are just plain wrong. (And I will include myself and my staff in that statement — only YOU know your business best!)
And, of course, many times we stubbornly stick to our guns, and we don’t accept advice or tools from those who truly *do* know best.
Just over one month ago, my lawyer in Uganda said it would be suicide to go there. He said this, because he knew the risks: we were traveling without a court date for our pending adoption, the courts were about to recess for the summer, and we faced the very real possibility that we would be “stuck” in Uganda for anywhere from 2-36 months. (I didn’t share those possibilities with many people, but on this side of things — it’s easier to reveal the risks!)
But after countless “impossibles” became reality, and the power of our bull-headed prayers, presence and persistence — the impossible is reality: we’re home with our new daughters.
Africa was incredibly intense. I had rented office space in Kampala to work as much as possible while there, but the paper-chasing process for this “birth” left very little room for much beyond that particular mission.
So, in the cool light of home, some relevant takeaways for your business, RIGHT NOW:
1) Belief matters. Those of you who’ve read my stuff for long enough know that I don’t give much credence to much of the quasi-religious psycho babble masquerading as business theory [manifesting your reality, speaking into the Universe, blah blah blah] but (BUT) what you hold onto during adversity will determine how you come out the other side.
There were about eight different times where my family and I could have crumbled–when the tire popped on a lonely Ugandan highway on the way to our requesting a court hearing, when we were stranded in the middle of the African savannah surrounded by hippos, when the US embassy “lost” our medical reports two days before our return flight–but each time, there came a way. Me–I’m convinced of the power in prayer. That may not be your bag; but know this: words, associations and attitudes carry the ability to CREATE a new reality.
2) When there is no net, you make a net. From what I could see, there is no viable “welfare” system in Uganda — which means that there are no handouts and hand-ups for the regular joe. That’s why almost every city street is ringed with roadside shanty-shops selling everything from eggs to cellphone airtime. But the spirit of these roadside vendors, the poor and the barely-scraping-by demonstrated no anger or vindictiveness at their lack of options. They simply knew that if they wanted to survive, they had to make a way.
Who are you blaming right now for your troubles? I’m astounded by the blame-shifting and lack of clarity for many firm owners — it’s always the fault of the staff, the government, the “expert”, or the economy.
When you settle in your heart that YOU make the difference in the results of your business … well, that changes everything.
3) Your target market is EVERYTHING! Sometimes these street vendors were pretty sharp — sometimes not so much. I passed people selling everything from snacks to … physics textbooks. Sure, maybe there is SOMEONE out there scanning the streets of Kampala for Newtonian theories… but probably not very many!
Tax and law firms do the same darn thing! Insisting on providing a particular service to a market which is either uninterested or too huge to be approached with any level of specialization. The primary response you’re looking for in ALL of your marketing is “Oh… that’s for ME.” You can have a terrible ad (all features, no benefits), with not a very efficient media — but you get the LIST (i.e. your target market) nailed down as specifically and personally as possible, and the keys to the kingdom are yours.
Really, I have difficulty condensing all of what happened for us in Uganda in one email, but starting next week I’ll be “back” to zeroing in on exactly what you should be doing to form deeper relationships with your clients and prospects — and make a ton more sales.
Until then, God bless you and your firm!