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Think Like a Business Owner

By John Tabita



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In my recent article, If Your Client Says Your Price is Too High, He’s Right, I made the case that, if you don’t understand value from the client’s perspective, you’ll never figure out why the client thinks your price is too high or what to do about it.

I also contrasted the two very different types of people who decide to go into business for themselves—The Entrepreneur and The Technician—and said that The Technical starts out by looking at his skills and abilities and asks himself, “How can I sell this?”

But that’s completely backwards. Here’s what sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer says about why people buy:

It never ceases to amaze me that companies will spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars teaching people “how to sell,” and not one minute of ten dollars on “why they buy.” And “why they buy” is all that matters.

Why clients buy and why they pay your price boils down to one vague, hard-to-define concept called value. And while “value” may be difficult to grasp, this much is certain. Value’s not something you establish by talking about how long it takes to build a site. The client cares about hisbottom line, not yours. Establishing value means addressing what matters to him or her, not what matters to you.

Figuring that out means getting inside your client’s head. Here’s where those of us who are technically-minded struggle. You need to think like your customer. And since your customer is a business person, you need to think like a business person thinks.

Thinking like a business person is more that just understanding their buying motives. It’s understanding what type of people they are, and what their struggles and concerns are. Steve Jobs once said that “marketing is about values.” So understanding what your client values is the key to “providing value.”

Freedom and Independence

Business owners want control of their financial destiny. No one goes into business for themselves unless they think they can make as much, if not more, than working for someone else.

For most business owners, money is a driving factor, but it’s not “all about the money.” Many people go into business for the freedom it provides or will provide, such as being able to retire early. For others, it’s knowing that their income is not dependent upon a job or a boss that could fire them at a moment’s notice.

The Need to Succeed

Business owners care that their business succeeds, not only because of their personal aspirations. Many people start a business because they saw a need and became passionate about filling that need.

With the need for success comes a certain amount of competitiveness. Winning or beating the competition is often an underlying motivation in much of what the typical business owner does.

Learn to think like a business owner. Talk to ones you meet to gain insight on what makes them tick. Because, as Angelos of Prickly Pear Media so nicely put it, “We have to put ourselves in the client’s shoes, and if we cannot think like they think, we will ultimately fail in selling what we want.”

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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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