Thursday, November 26, 2009

When Entrepreneurs don't do the things they should

I got an interesting email this week from a CA with a big problem.

"My focus as a CA is business advisory services to small businesses. Unfortunately I find that even after signing on clients to an engagement, the clients don’t do the required action plans to grow their business.

This has me stumped. We had a conversation that they initiated, they bought into what services and investment were required , but once I send them the engagement letter everything stops. They have all sorts of reasons for not moving forward.

If you have any ideas , any advice or referral would be appreciated."

Does that problem sound familiar? I think it's pretty common.
Here's the response I sent.

"I have certainly noted this paradox before. (Don't worry, it's not you.) I call it "entrepreneurial inertia" - the inability of small business owners to do the things they know they have to do.

My (still evolving) theory is this: entrepreneurs like being the boss. It means they're in control. They call the shots. This means no one can ever force them to eat canned beans or broccoli ever again. When you have a mindset like that, it takes a lot of character to decide to go ahead and spend a lot of A) money and B) time doing some complicated thing that you really don't understand and probably don't believe in."

I wrote about this whole thing in a Financial Post column last year, and then followed it up with additional thoughts in a blogpost about what to do about it.

You can
click here to read the blogpost, and at the end of that post you can click through to read the Post article.

I finished by asking the CA, "Let me know what you think. If you can find a cure for this, I'll nominate you for the Nobel Prize in Economics."

What do you think? Is there a cure for entrepreneurial inertia?


Roy Prevost said...

I have been delivering workshops across Canada for more than 10 years and I concur fully. In fact, I have coached clients who left to join another coach only to be told what I had already instructed them.

My sense is they were looking for a magic bullet of some sort and hoped someone else would provide it.

I agree wholeheartedly about the need for an 'accountability' coach or partner

I have 2 additional theories.

1)They are afraid of success and cannot see the future
2) They don't believe in their own abilities

Gloria Hildebrandt said...

There's not a cure for entrepreneurial inertia, but I believe that the entrepreneurs who are able to act on sound advice and do what will actually grow their business, are going to be successful. So the inert entrepreneurs are more likely to fail.

Richard said...

When it comes to personal investments I always believe that not doing something because it's complicated and you don't understand it is usually an excellent decision (a lot of trouble could have been avoided in the last decade). Investing in your business isn't any different. With many services there are a lot of providers who claim to do it but don't get any results, and a few that are actually worth the investment.

I've recently been surprised to learn more about the extent of this in my own industry, but even before then I always thought that it was up to me to explain to clients exactly what I would be doing for them and how it would help them, then let them decide what to do since they usually know a few things I don't.

I don't know how the person who emailed you does business so I can't say they're doing anything wrong. I've found that there are many people who do want to make improvements and will do so when I explain them well. For now I think there is a far greater opportunity for me to do more for these people rather than convince people who don't want to change.

They could be a good way to practice inbound marketing - release some free reports that explain the benefits of doing things differently and how to get started, and a few people will eventually come around. Other than that why not spend time on those who want more help?