In the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, Jim Carry played a character who had no idea who he really was. He had no idea that his life was being recorded since his birth of entertainment purposes. He awoke from his identity crisis when someone told him who he truly was. This is similar to the identity crisis that the entrepreneur community is experiencing today.
Much of the problem is that entrepreneurs do not know who they are. Many of them lost their way, getting caught up with business activities, or they simply never knew their way in the first place. Typically when you ask entrepreneurs who they are or what they do (i.e how do you make an income?), they say that they are a owner of a business. As an example, they own a jewelry shop or they sell cars. But that is not what they really do or what really makes them money.
The entrepreneurs who fully understand who they are understand that they are not simply a business owner. Rather, when asked, the entrepreneur who understands who they are would respond that they make money. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But many people who say that they are entrepreneurs, aren’t really entrepreneurs; they are business owners or business managers. The fundamental purpose of the entrepreneur is to make money. Now, how that money is made will differ, but an entrepreneur is a person who makes money…not literally, but their actions result in a positive influx of cash.
An entrepreneur with this mindset has two identities. These identities are what establish them to be the “money makers”.
The first and most important of the two identities is that above all else, an entrepreneur is a marketer. You may make and sell widgets, services, or information resources but if you don’t have customers, clients, or patients then you are dead in the water. You will have a lot of great products and services but no one to sell them to. I know that this is difficult for many entrepreneurs because they hate the concept of selling. They think of the used car salesman that sold them their first lemon and shiver with anger. But the reality of it all is that as you become an entrepreneur, you inherit the fact that you are also, or should also be, a marketer, an advertiser, and a salesperson. The beauty of it all is that you are an entrepreneur, so the concepts that you have regarding marketers, you don’t have to follow. You should follow effective marketing strategies but you don’t have to be that salesman that sold you your first clunker. Marketing should be fun. It should be an expression of who you are. If it is not, then you will always struggle with it. Steph Korey
“But Ralph, I just don’t like selling. I feel like I am forcing my product or service on potential clients.” So this brings me to my next identity. The business owner who has a skewed outlook on their offerings because they feel that when they market or sell their widget, they are forcing it on their potential clients. They are suffering from a major identity crisis. They see themselves and their offerings as a commodity instead of a necessity. Commodities come and go but necessities are constant. There is no better example of this than during a recession. The first things that cash-strapped people cut are the “nice-to-haves”. As an entrepreneur, if you identify your products and/or services as a necessity then your offerings won’t be the first to be chopped during the family budget meeting.
In order to identify your offerings as a necessity you have to first identify yourself (to yourself and your customers) as a problem solver.
Regardless of the industry, century, or location, the highest paid people are the ones who solve problems. Think about it. When you call a plumber, electrician, business consultant, graphic designer, or marketing guru, you are calling them to solve a problem. The highest paid ones solve problems well and provide a permanent solution to your current problem. As a business owner, regardless of your business, you should be a solution provider. If you sell jewelry you solve the problem for the husband who is looking for a romantic gift for his wife’s birthday. If you sell household cleaning products then you provide the solution of being more efficient and effective, saving your clients time (which, if I might add, is of immeasurable value).