What A Wet Floor Sign Can Teach You About Your Business

What’s the purpose of wet floor signs from the perspective of a business owner?

Believe it or not, your answer to that question can tell you a lot about how you run your business. It doesn’t matter if you have a brick-and-mortar retail location or you sell strictly from your website. This exercise is purely hypothetical.

So what do you think? What’s the purpose behind wet floor signs?

If your answer is “to protect the business from legal liability if anyone should happen to slip on on the premises,” you may have uncovered a dangerous mindset that could threaten the vitality and growth of your own business.

What might this sort of response tell you about yourself? To put it plainly, you’re focused on the wrong thing.

What’s at the Center of Your Business?

If you’ve got a “protecting what’s mine” mentality (as indicated by the aforementioned response the the wet floor sign question), you’re exhibiting symptoms of an defensive-minded, self-centered entrepreneur. You place your own interests at the center of everything you do.

On the other hand, if you said that the purpose of the wet floor sign is to protect people in your store from getting hurt, you’re showing that you’re a customer-centered entrepreneur.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your business or yourself. It would be foolish not to. But when you focus on your business instead of your customers, you’re putting the cart before proverbial horse.

You’ve heard it a hundred times: “The purpose of business is to create a customer.” Not to build a store, invent a product or make a name for itself. If you want to get good at creating customers, you need to make them the most important thing.

Playing It Too Safe

It’s hard to grow your business proactively when you’re playing defense. If you’re too invested in protecting your reputation, image, your perceived upper-hand in relationships, etc., you’re probably playing too safe.

Risk-taking empowers you to make bold promises in your marketing. Playing it safe makes for boring advertisements.

Customer-centric courage frees you to offer strong guarantees, which can often increase sales by 300% even while inviting buyers to ask for their money back if they’re not fully satisfied. When you put your customers first, you’re willing to reverse the risk back on yourself.

Self-centered businesses hesitate before giving value in advance.  They’re worried about getting ripped off by cheapskates or copied by sneaky competitors. Customer-centric businesses know that offering value in advance brings more leads in, develops more trust and establishes more authority in the marketplace. Sure, there’s a little more risk involved, but the upside potential is worth it.

Business isn’t about you. The companies and solo professionals that really make a difference are usually those that make it their priority to take care of their customers. They want to make the world a better place, not just put money in their bank accounts.

Which description sounds more like your business?

This illustration probably seems overly simplistic, but I think it’s also rather instructive. I’d love to hear what you think about it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section.

P.S. If you’d like to hear about some of the most courageous marketing and guarantees you can imagine, you might like to listen to my interview with Space Shuttle engineer-turned-consultant Mark Fox.


Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt.3

(If you didn’t read Part 2 of this series, check it out here)

“Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”1 John 3:18 (NLT)

I think if I had one message to share with the world it would be this: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. This idea applies to every area of life. Let’s focus on how it pertains to business for now.

Businesses don’t exist for their own sakes. Sure, you become entrepreneurs to earn money and to try to live the life you dream of. Hopefully you also hope to make the world a better place and improve the lives of others through your work. But ultimately, your business is not about you.

Walmart founder Sam Walton reminds us that “There is only one boss. The customer.” Without customers, you have a hobby, not a business. So why do so many companies treat their customers and clients like anything less than the very reason they exist?

Why do many entrepreneurs fall in love with their product or service, to the detriment of the people who they are designed to serve? Theodore Levitt gives some terrific illustrations of this point in an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review in 1975 called “Marketing Myopia.” Using examples from Hollywood to oil companies to railroads, Levitt shows numerous billion dollar mistakes companies and entire industries have made because of their preoccupation with their products instead of their customers. Many businesses have made themselves obsolete in the process.

(I strongly encourage you to read “Marketing Myopia” and take notes. The historical and practical lessons are profoundly valuable.)

Instead of being enamored with what we offer, we need to make our customers our number one business priority. How do our products serve them? How do they want to be served? How could they benefit them even more according to their expressed desire?

Elsewhere I have called this mentality “lowercase syndrome.”

As a Christian entrepreneur, you put God first, others (aka your customers/clients) second and yourself last. You should esteem others more highly than yourself, offering yourself as a servant, even as Christ humbled Himself to become a servant (Philippians 2:3-7).

Should you try to earn as much money as possible? Absolutely! Do it by offering the most value in the marketplace, becoming the most trusted provider of whatever you sell and making it as easy as possible for your ideal customers to buy from or work with you.

(John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, had 3 rules concerning money. The first rule is to make as much as you can.)

For many of us, business is what the Lord has purposed for our lives. Do you think He designed a plan for you that required you to focus on yourself, your needs, your desires? Of course not. Selfishness is never God’s desire. He wants you to consider the needs of the people around you. Your business might be one of His ways to help you think about yourself even less.

Be a good steward of your opportunities. Be a blessing to each and every one of your customers instead of thinking of them as walking dollar signs.

In the words of advertising legend Leo Burnett, “What helps people, helps business.” I think God is pleased with that.


Sharing The Other Side of the Story

Storytelling is a very hot topic right now, and I chimed in from a unique perspective in my December newsletter.

It’s rare that I do this, but I’m making this edition available to the general public. I think it’s that important.

Take a gander at “Another Angle on Storytelling.

My point, as tends to be the case, is this: even when telling your story, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.


Recommended Reading:
lowercase branding – What’s really important when it comes to building an incredible brand?