or, Why Is It So Hard to Make Changes on Your Own?

I know this sh*t. I understand the rules and I know we’ve needed to do this forever. Why is it so hard to do it myself?
—Client conversation, 2009

It comes on you hard, just as you decide you need outside help to grow your business the way you really want to. Right around the second or third conversation I have with you, my new client.

The guilt.

The feeling that because great Customer Experience is what you’ve always aimed for, Maximum Customer Experience should have been easy to plot out and implement on your own.

Like feeling guilty when you hire a personal trainer to help shed those last stubborn pounds. I wanted it, I was nearly at my goal, why couldn’t I do it alone? (I’ve been there, too. But I digress.)

Your business needs to grow and you know your Customer Experience is holding you back. So we start the project with you and everything’s going great. You’re happy, relieved even, but you send me an email in mock frustration and real curiosity: “Why is this so hard for me?”

I hear it a lot. The straight-shooting quote you see at the start of this post is from this spring, but it could have been from a half-dozen conversations and emails this year alone. The latest one, just a few days ago, made me realize it’s a real pain point for you, and I wanted to share what I say to clients when they ask me for my thoughts.

I’d love to explain that it’s hard for you because I’m an expert in what I do and you’re an expert in what you do. So my work had better be hard for you to do. But I don’t say that.

I’d also like to remind you that you’re very busy (thank goodness! Do you hear the economy starting to roar, just a little?), running your business. Switching gears to analyze and improve customer-facing business processes and design means neglecting what’s most critical—doing an awesome job for your customers and prospects. But I don’t say that.

Not because these things aren’t true, but because they aren’t the answer to your question. It’s far more basic than that.

This is so hard for you because this is your baby. Your pride and joy. Your source of laughter, your source of tears, and your source of income! You created it, you raised it, you invested soul, sweat, and dollars in it (why isn’t there a reasonable synonym for “dollars” that begins with an “s”?). Nobody understands your business like you do. You love it flaws and all, and right there…

Right there it is.

You love your baby, flaws and all. As I said to one client recently, You physically can’t even clip a fingernail without feeling guilty for the changes you’re making. So you’re not alone in having a hard time at some stage in a revamp.

That’s why it’s so hard for you—and that’s why you and I, and every other business owner need outside help from time to time. It’s not that you don’t “get” Maximum Customer Experience—it’s simply that seeing the problems of your own business with fresh eyes is something you can’t do when it’s your baby, and that you won’t make the big changes you need without a push from the outside. The expertise and the singular focus on your big-picture goals are only the bonus answers to Why Is This So Hard?

Don’t be so tough on yourself. Friends, family, devoted customers, suppliers, and yes, trusted advisors from lawyers and accountants to Experience Designers are all part of your business community. Dear reader, it takes a village to raise a business. They can all help you take good care of your baby.

To grow your company and get the help you need:

  • Read all you can, so you do “get it.” Play an active part in shaping your plan for growth. To me, there’s nothing worse than a business drifting aimlessly to its inevitable end.
  • Put systems in place to track key points in your sales process now. Objective pre-change benchmarks will help you measure your future growth.
  • Know the difference between things only you can do, and things that take away from things only you can do. Y’know?
  • Get outside help. And though professional pushes are great, you know what I always say: even your mom can provide a fresh Perspective.
  • Don’t feel guilty. I know you know your sh*t.   😉

Are you all wrapped up in your business “baby”? How do you get past the guilt of wanting to do it all, so you can get started with projects that truly need doing?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson