As we watch dysfunction after dysfunction unfold in Washington D.C. I can’t help thinking this would never fly in the US-capitol-sm“real” business world.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s safe to say that if you did the opposite of how they do things in the “Logic-free Zone”, as some call it, you’d be primed for success.

Lesson #1: Listen to your customers

I think the most frustrating thing about the political mess at the Capitol is the fact that very few seem to be listening. As a business owner you should always be listening to your clients, including those who aren’t clients yet in your target market. Listening helps you craft content and solutions that meet their needs better and makes you the expert. Social media makes it easier to hear what they are saying.  Listening is a huge differentiator between inbound marketing and traditional marketing.  Communication is no longer a one-way street. People now have a chance to tell you exactly what they want. It doesn’t mean they’re right or that you have to provide exactly what they want, but it gives you a good place to start on making your product or service better, or even to create additional products/services.

Lesson #2: Test you product and the process before hanging up your “Ready for Business” sign.

Sure it would’ve been embarrassing to say the site wasn’t ready yet, but not as embarrassing as the very public meltdown of same such website upon rushed launch.  Delaying to make sure you get things right might make you look incompetent (especially after 3 years to prep), but you’d gain some bonus points if it was to protect your future clients and provide a well-oiled product that actually met their needs

Lesson #3: If you’re going to pretend to know what’s best for your market, don’t be surprised if they don’t use your product or service.

If you don’t want to listen and instead want to dictate to everyone what you think is best for them, be prepared for some backlash. And there is no backlash like the backlash found online where people are embolden behind a computer screen and screen name to tell you exactly where you can shove your product or service. While the government can get away with passing a law and forcing everyone to buy their product, you? Not so much. Which brings us to #4.

Lesson #4: Don’t let pride blind you from the obvious.

If there is a mountain-high pile of steaming evidence that your product missed the mark in meeting the market’s needs, is bleeding cash before even launching and that no one is buying despite your bazillion dollar marketing and PR blitz, it might, just might, be time to scrap it and start over.

Failure is a part of life and a part of business.  But there’s a fine line between “winners never quit” and the well-known definition of insanity.  Sometimes the quicker we realize that we failed the quicker we can move on to version 2.0 – as long as version 2.0 includes actually listening and taking some pointers from your market.

I could go on and talk about what lying and not being transparent does to your reputation, how your market tends to get cynical and resentful when they realize that you’re playing them as if they’re stupid, that spending more than you make is a recipe for disaster, and how hiring crappy employees/sub-contractors can bite you in the behind, but those are pretty obvious. Suffice to say that lately the political world has given us some hard lessons on how NOT to run a business. Business Owner, take note!

Image Credit: Rendo79

Your turn!

Have you learned some lessons (good or bad) from government lately as it pertains to running a business? Please share in the comments below.