Compromise in Business: How Much is Too Much?
It’s a truism in military circles that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and the same can be true in business (though in this case, ‘the enemy’ are your customers and you really should be trying to make friends with them). It’s easy to plot out the perfect business, the perfect brand, the perfect offering in your head, but as soon as that plan encounters reality, you’ll have to start making compromises.
Today we’re taking a dive into this question: When should you compromise your vision? How much compromise is too much? What are you risking as you depart from your original plans and is the risk worth it?
The Kinds of Compromise
One of the things you might have in mind when you’re planning to start a business is the sort of customer you want to sell to. If you’ve imagined an ideal market for your products, you might be disappointed if those customers don’t respond to your offering with the enthusiasm you dreamed up for them. Unfortunately, without a stream of revenue from enthusiastic customers you won’t last long, so this might be the first time you need to comprise the purity of your vision, either chasing a different market or changing your product to make it more attractive to the customers you’d initially targeted.
You might also find other parts of your vision struggle when exposed to the real world: your decision to offer generous concessions to unhappy customers to create a good reputation could cost you if you find people taking advantage of your policies. This could prompt a more pragmatic, parsimonious approach to your gestures of good will.
It can be hard to know when you should give up, bow to the fates and change your business to fit what seems to be cold hard reality. It can feel like giving up, but it might be what you need to do to survive. On the other hand, it can be hard to silence the voice that all you need to do is hold out a little bit longer and you’ll be proved right.
You need a way to take the burden of the decision-making off your shoulders – to remove the responsibility for the outcome from your best guess and get some more objective insight. What you need is data.
Working with a market research company gives you access to proper insight about how customers are reacting to what you offer. This gives you a solid foundation to base your decisions on, removing the burden from your shoulders. A brand tracker survey tells you what customers think about your brand, why, and how you compare to your rivals. This could be just what you need to tell whether people really aren’t reacting to what you have to offer, or if you just need to hold the line a little while longer until you break through.