The secret of success

The secret of success in business is simple:

  1. Understand the market.
  2. Spot the gap in the market.
  3. Sell people what they need

Did you spot the deliberate mistake there?

Surprisingly many of us can’t see the error ((I imagine that this could form part of a sort of Rorschach test for potential freelancers, what do you think when you see this apparently normal group of management-speak statements)). If you are screaming the answer in your head then you may be in the wrong place: this is how to fail at freelancing ((if you are screaming the answer out loud, it may be time to take a break)).

Of course selling people what they need is a sure-fire way to fail at freelancing.

I sense your caution ((it’s possible I’m projecting here, you’ll be reading this some time after I’ve written it, in order to, in fact, sense your caution we would need to believe in both ESP and time travel)). After all, I am a self-confessed freelance failure.  

It sounds sensible: sell people what they need.

The truth of course is that people don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want.

You may be a plumber of 20 years standing but if I want the toilet over there and the shower over here the only question I want answering is “can you do that for me?”

It’s no different for you professional services people. Maybe bosses should have effective HR policies in order to make it safe and easy to hire and fire people but what they want is someone to come and sort it out for them when it all goes pear-shaped. Small businesses may need an integrated digital marketing approach but what they want is a website, like the last one, on WordPress ((next week, and for £2.50)).

If you are smart you can sell people what they want and make sure you deliver what they need.

If you sell them what they need you’re going to end up gazing into space pressing f5 every three seconds to see if someone has sent you an email yet while the dog gazes sadly at you from a safe distance in the hall ((not that I speak from experience here)).