When somebody says “You should,” followed by advice about your business, be wary. Following that advice could be harmful.
In our first few years at Schedulefly we tried lots of things in an attempt to get the business off the ground. PR. Sales. Trade shows. Email marketing. Social media, Etc. All of these things are very conventional. They’ve worked elsewhere, so they should work for us, right? But none of these things felt right for our business so we didn’t have our hearts in them. Frankly we just didn’t want to build a business like everybody else did. We wanted to build it our way.
We stopped doing all of those things and started doing things like telling the stories of some of our customers on our blog – how they got into the restaurant business, what they loved about it, what lessons they’d learned, and so on. Those stories led to our book, which led to our video series, which led to our podcast, which is leading to our second book. All of this content is focused on the people we serve, not on us, and it’s been a wonderful way to pour our energy into something we believe in and to provide something meaningful to the industry we serve. But six years ago when we started down this path, nobody would have ever told us “You should scrap all efforts at sales, PR, social media, trade shows, etc. and focus all of your energy on producing content that has nothing to do with you and is solely focused on your customers’ stories.”
On the contrary, a good friend of ours, let’s call him Robby, was convinced we needed to advertise. He’s had a lot of success in business and we all know him and like him and respect him, and he just couldn’t get over why we didn’t invest into a traditional advertising campaign. “You should really consider this, Wil. I know it’s not what y’all are excited about, but I really think it could work.” And if Robby ran this business, that’s what he’d do. I’m sure he’d learn how to make it work, but only because he would be live in it and he’d put his heart into it and he’d have a laser focus on it and he’d tinker with it and make the necessary changes with it and it would be a big part of what the business is all about. And it would be a very, very different business than what we’ve built.
There’s nothing wrong with people telling you what they think you should do. Even though I am writing a post warning people to be wary of anything that follows “You should,” I still find myself occasionally uttering those very words. “You know what? You should…” It’s a very natural thing to do, especially if you’ve had success in a domain, from business to fitness to child rearing to you name it. We take our experiences and apply them to the next person’s situation, and assume if they would just follow the same path we did, they’d have the same success.
But this really comes down to having the confidence to build something you love and you are proud of by doing it your way. If we were currently running a very successful PR campaign at Schedulefly, or an email marketing campaign that produced amazing results, or we were having success with any other traditional practice, we wouldn’t be as proud of the business. We wouldn’t wake up every day and believe to our core in what we are doing. That’s not how I want to start my day. How about you?
We add about 1,000 net customers per year while running this business exactly the way we want to, the way we are proud of. And we are perfectly happy with that. If we were adding 2,000 new customers because we were doing things other people said we “should” do, we’d be growing twice as fast (yeah!), but be half as happy (boo!).
If you want to build a business you love, one you could be a part of every day for the rest of your days, do it your way. Lots of people will quickly tell you what you should do, but if those things aren’t in line with what you want to do, politely thank them for the advice and ignore it. The only thing you should do is do it your way.