Starting up your own business – the good and bad of ego

Ego can be harmful to your business.   While healthy ego can drive self belief, set standards of quality and customer service, unhealthy ego can cause a business operator to become too self absorbed, with insufficient focus on the needs of customers.

Business should not be about you.  If it’s about you, then it isn’t about the customer, and all businesses must stay customer focused to thrive.  You are not in business to create a self legacy.  That might be an outcome but not your initial intention.

It is customer demand and their favourable buying decisions that form the foundations of our income and wealth.  Satisfying customer demand builds repeat business.  You reap the rewards when your business exists for the problem solving and betterment of others.

One of the symptoms of an unhealthy ego is the need to be right all the time.  Professional advice providers like doctors, accountants, lawyers and financial planners can be prone to this condition.  It is because they are in a position of being experts in a narrow field of knowledge and eventually start to believe that they are experts on everything.  Untreated, this condition may cause the business owner to become obstinate, opinionated, and close minded.  This combination is very unattractive to customers.

Another detrimental symptom arises out of the need to talk about ourselves incessantly during the never-ending process of marketing our business.  This can breed an over-inflated attitude of superiority and self importance.  It can also result in becoming attached to the outcomes of what we do.   If possible, let others do the speaking for you in the form of advocacy and testimonials.

Appropriate behaviour in business is paramount.  All behaviour is preceded by thought, so the way in which a business owner’s ego perceives him or her self in relation to the wider customer population is critical to business success.   This also applies to interaction with staff.

An attitude of arrogance with customers will result in a decline in sales, particularly repeat sales.  Also, there comes a time when being the boss and having your staff follow like drones will stifle future growth.

It is much more enlightened and profitable to delegate responsibility, accountability and decision making, and allow others to shine.  This will get you the human leverage you are already paying salaries for.

Customers like to do business with people who they find attractive.  In general, that means being attracted to someone who is friendly, knowledgeable, attentive and helpful.   In other words, treat customers as you would like to be treated.

A good start to attractiveness is to develop a healthy ego.  Being attentive and making customers feel valued means developing good listening skills.  Knowledge is always an advantage in business but more important is the ability to maintain an open-mind and an attitude of endless learning.

To represent quality and still be able to be humble enough to acknowledge your own frailties and imperfections means combining smart business with humanity.  Customers never tire of dealing with real people, flaws and all.   It makes all of us realize that we are human, and no better and no worse than anyone else.

Until next time!


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