Why Patience is key in Business and Marketing
When students first enrol in any of our Business and Marketing Qualification courses, they always ask what quality is the most important for a business owner or marketer to possess. There are plenty of great answers to this question; passion, creativity, and willingness to take risks are all excellent things to have in a business of any kind. But an often-overlooked aspect of this exciting profession is what keeps most companies afloat in the long term – patience.
The Hardest Lesson Learned
Probably the greatest lesson of patience in business was told by someone many consider as the best investor alive – Warren Buffet.
When Buffet was 11, he went to the stock trading floor with his sister Doris and bought six shares of an oil services company called Cities Service at $38 a share. Unfortunately, the stock lost a third of its value just a few weeks after he bought it.
The young Buffet waited until the stock rebounded and sold the shares when they hit $40 per share and he was able to get a $2 profit on each of them. He then watched in horror as the stock value continued to rise to over $200 without him.
He now tells this story at every proper opportunity to teach aspiring entrepreneurs the hardest lesson he had to learn. But never make the mistake of confusing patience with complacency. There is a difference between the two.
Waiting for Something VS. Just Waiting for Something
But what about all the people saying businesses should take risks and innovate? Wouldn’t patience cause a business to get left behind by the competition?
The most difficult part of teaching patience in business is how to tell students when they should or shouldn’t make a move. CEOs, investors, and businesspeople around the world will never agree on the answer to this question.
Some will chalk up their success to research and leg work while others cite instinct with a dash of luck.
They’re all right to a certain degree as the measure of each business is a case by case basis. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any parallels between most of them.
Throughout our experience of observing and assisting aspiring business owners and marketers through the BSB502015 Diploma of Business course, we were able to identify a crucial ability that spelt the difference between success and failure – forecasting or spotting opportunity.
This skill is what will inform businessowners of when the time is right to jump on a new technology or move on from a declining service. It’s the difference between just waiting for something good to happen and waiting for something specific to happen in your business that will move it forward.
The wait needs to be in service to a goal that will in turn lead to another goal so on and so forth. The question then becomes, where and how does one set-up these goals?
Customer Life Cycle
There are two roadmaps that businesses need to allow themselves to follow for them to know where they are and where they need to go with their business. These are the Customer and Product Life Cycles.
The customer life cycle is a widely accepted method of long-term marketing wherein companies don’t just work to attract new clients but try to keep the ones they already have as well. We’ll go into both cycles in more depth in later blogs and stick to just the basics for now.
Certain customer life cycles may vary in the number of phases they have, but the commonly accepted model has six stages. These are: Awareness, Engagement, Evaluation, Purchase, Post-Purchase, and Advocacy.
Each one of these phases represents a goal that a business can set for itself. In-between each stage is an implied waiting period where owners need to be patient and see if the proper opportunity arises.
Product Life Cycle
The product life cycle is an internal evaluation of the projected longevity of a product or service. This is an important part of any business especially when it comes to scaling operations when the company begins to grow and expand. But some owners have some trouble in applying this cycle in practice since they grow attached to the products and services that brought them success – that’s a story for another day though.
Like the Customer Life Cycle, the Product Life Cycle can appear in various ways, but the widely accepted form has four phases: These are: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline.
Where this cycle differs from the first one is that business owners have no control as to when the product shifts from one phase to another. All the parameters are purely in the hands of the consumers and owners are left to react to what the market gives them.
People often make the mistake of rushing from Introduction and straight to Growth without grasping that it’s not up to them. They force a transition or begin looking for results that aren’t there yet and create unnecessary stress and disappointment for everyone involved.
Ultimately, it all hinges on one thing.
When do YOU think it’s working?
Success looks a little bit different to each person, and what looks like an opportunity to one is probably a waste of time to another. Are you happy when you hit a million likes on Facebook, or should there be an increase in sales as well?
Your definition of success will be the lens through which opportunities will present themselves. It’s the way two people can look at the same thing and still see something different.
The cycles only give people a guide of where to look in terms of what normally happens when they launch a product or begin to engage customers. But what the data looks like depends entirely on the priorities of the business and what it wants to achieve.
Patience in this regard is marching to the beat of your own drum. Don’t feel pressured by how fast other people are growing because their priorities are not the same as your own. This holds true even for competitors.
People often let the fear of getting beaten to the punch get the better of them and it leads them to making costly mistakes. Remember, Facebook wasn’t the first social media platform, Microsoft made a tablet computer seven years before Apple did, Google glass didn’t take off but that doesn’t mean the technology is doomed.
Very few brands have ever benefitted from just being first. So, sit back, watch, and wait for the right time to move.