Creative Courage

by T Taylor

New data from Forbes shows five reasons 80% of businesses fail.

1. Not really in touch with customersClimbers
2. No real differentiation in the market
3. Failure to communicate value propositions
4. Inability to nail a profitable business model
5. Leadership breakdown at the top

What struck me about this is how four of the five reasons are
marketing related. Not being in touch with your customers is a
cardinal sin of any business. That’s marketing communications 101.

No uniqueness or differentiation. We see this all the time, as so many companies are the same as others (think banks).

Value propositions. What’s the deal? It amazes me how so many businesses make us hunt for simple, “make me care” offers or
good reasons to buy.

The business model. How do we actually “make” money? Did we bypass a marketing plan and hope people would love our idea as much as we do?

Leadership. Good leaders must have hard work and perseverance in the mix to weather the storms of a start up. Many people fall (I sure have) and then give up. Creating a successful business and growing it means doing a lot of things right—and when you make mistakes—learn from them, but don’t give up.

Easier said than done, right? Of course, that’s why most businesses fail. Surprisingly, marketing plays a much bigger role than I expected.

Another reason I see why businesses fail, or stall, is for lack of courage. I call it “creative courage.” This is what business leaders need when they approach marketing and branding issues.

Leaders engage us because they need help. Their business needs more sales/revenue, a brand built for
the future, a profitable exit strategy, etc. We know that the best way for them to win is to change—and that requires sound strategic and creative solutions. To follow through with bold, change-based initiatives requires a creative courage that many leaders struggle with.

Some leaders show this creative courage, only to lose heart, doubt the potential, dial back and revert to being “just a little better” than before. The big possibilities of a new brand and different way to present the business gets watered down—and loses its impact.

So instead of taking a potentially bigger creative risk, too many settle for safety and a continuation of taking the route most traveled.

On the other hand, our most successful clients are leaders who reach higher—and even push us—to help them achieve their most visionary goals. They have creative courage.

I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

– Marissa Mayer