2 min read

We're all just guessing anyway

I'm surprised how much certainty there is in the business space, especially in the technical industries where the certainty business owners have in their craft  leads them to think that outcomes in business are equally as certain.

And I'm not talking about the certainty in the articles from Mr.-BUSINESS-dot-com websites, while those aren't excluded from false certainty. I come across this certainty more in one-on-one conversations with business owners, or fellow IT industry peeps. They're oft phrased as absolutes, like:

  1. Don't share revenue with employees, they'll ask for more money.
  2. I'm not giving 3% to the credit card companies. We do checks only.
  3. Don't let prospects take advantage of you, and get free work during the sales process.
  4. Unlimited support will destroy you.
  5. You've gotta charge travel fees, that's your valuable time.

If you're honest with yourself, whether you work in a publicly traded company, or a very small business, we're all just guessing what's going to work anyway. That's why there's a book on every opinion.

The problem isn't the different opinions; in fact I think the different options are the solution! They keep all of us sharp, and force us to reexamine decisions we've made in the past. The problem is the level of certainty people have. It's easy to point out when the aforementioned 5 points (as quick examples) have been explicitly proven false in our own journey.

  1. In my experience, sharing the entire revenue picture helps every team member better understand the goal. If they ask for more money, just show where the money is going. Your team is smart, they'll understand. If they know the revenue, they understand the seasons of your business, the constraints, and when to celebrate. Doesn't that sound so much more fun? It is!
  2. Credit cards take less mental energy, offer points incentives to our clients, and have almost zero chance of getting lost in the mail. BONUS: if your system allows it, you can put them on auto-pay. Robotic revenue.
  3. Letting your customers experience your work (at least a reasonable amount) builds trust, credibility, and can fast track your opportunity to the signature.
  4. Unlimited support. Have you tried it? Economies of scale work in your favor here. The squeaky wheels are balanced by the relatively quiet clients. (And those clients swap roles from year to year, and are grateful that their invoice doesn't change.) BONUS: You don't have to nickel and dime your work. Huge mental and productivity savings. DOUBLE BONUS: When there is no fee for engagement, the mental barrier to ask for help evaporates. They will lean on you and love your service even more.
  5. You could charge travel fees, but how else could you cover that time without having a fee? Maybe a 2-hour minimum (or 1/2-day) would achieve the same thing without charging a fee.

It's OK to have opinions, and to even be quite certain sometimes. But do yourself a favor, and next time you are certain about something, just preface it with "based on my experience" and then finish with "what has your experience been?" A different team, a different client, a different climate, a different season will almost always lead to a different outcome. So don't let your handful of bad experiences hold you back from exploring a better way to do something.

We're all just guessing based on our narrow experience anyway. Even the big companies. Remember the Amazon phone? Remember Apple's Ping? Remember the PT Cruiser? Turns out my certainty was checked on that one. Ten years is a decent run.

What has your experience been? Let me know (@lucasaaron), and subscribe (free) so we can keep the conversation going in your inbox.