I’ve had a keen interest in global politics, and Brexit was especially interesting for me given my own personal history with Lady Britannia.
Reflecting upon the surprise that Britons voted to “Leave” the European Union, there were parallels that I discovered which could help me with my business.
1. Fear Will Sell, but There are Consequences
During a recent trip to the UK, I spoke with a number of people about Brexit – what was obvious, was that people on both sides of the fence were dealing with fear.
The “Leavers” were scared about immigration being out of control, and that the UK was going down hill economically and culturally as a result of the unrelenting waves of Eastern European migrants crossing the borders without any restrictions. There was fear that the British were giving too much to Europe and not taking care of their own needs, and also that they were losing their sovereignty to the mystery men (and women) in Brussels.
On the flip side, “Remainers” were suffereing from a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out for those who are not in with the lingo). They would miss out on the benefits of commerce, trade and resources, the common sense of identity and common purpose, which was to shape the direction and growth that is taking place within their geographical region, even the unrestricted access to countries of Europe!
The British people were heavily driven by fear on both sides of the referendum, and this is true for politics in general: most people are voting out of fear and not out of aspiration or possibility of creating something new.
The lesson learnt here is that you can drive people with fear, and motivate them to take action based on the worst possible outcome. Fear is a very powerful tool – tap into people’s pains, show them how hard it is, show them how hard it can be if they don’t buy from you…
…but be prepared for the consequences. Not all people react the way you want when they are filled with fear.
Some will be paralysed by indecision, others will have buyers remorse and request refunds.
Then there are those that can never be made happy, and they may even bad mouth you on the internet or the media.
When you sell and market based upon fear… often you get prospects who will constantly be plagued and caught in the downward spiral of fear. That means they’ll request guarantees, they’ll be needy and they’ll want constant support from you, sometimes even after they have stopped paying for your product or service.
As business owners, it’s important to also look at what’s possible and what people aspire to.
I’m not talking about selling pipe dreams. I’m talking about the real possibility of the benefits your products or service offer, and how that will make your customer’s lives easier, more convenient, and pain-free. These people tend to be more excited and driven to get results. Just be sure that you’re not making promises you can’t deliver, and make sure that your clients are not just after a “quick fix” or an “instant solution”.
No matter how you sell or market, be prepared to stand behind your offer, and be mindful of the consequences. Don’t burn people out with fear, but don’t lose their trust by setting unrealistic expectations.
2. The European Parliament Laughed at Nigel Farage
Ten years ago, Nigel Farage stood up in the European Parliament in Brussels and declared that he was going to lead Britain out of the EU. He was ridiculed and laughed at.
Now, after Britain voted to leave the EU, Farage – who lead the “Leave” campaign – reminded the Members of the European Parliament that he made this promise, and how nobody is laughing at him now.
This was a long road, a tough one and Farage was met with a lot of resistance – almost half of the UK and many of the leaders of the EU were against him.
Yet nobody’s laughing at him now.
No matter what business you’re in, you’re going against the grain.
People will challenge you, question you, and even ridicule you or look down at you.
After all, you’re throwing common sense and “financial security” out of the window.
You’re going to leave behind a $300k salary, a stable corporate career and a relatively easy life to build something new and uncertain with a lot of instability.
You’re going to go through tough times, financially hardships, and 16 hour days to get to make this happen.
Those that are shaking their head at you now, will have nothing to say to you when you succeed and make this happen.
Don’t quit. Don’t give up on your vision.
Your freedom and independence – your Brexit – is coming.
And nobody will laugh at you then.
3. Take a Leaf out of David Cameron’s Book
Following the announcement that Britan would leave the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign his position as he would not be the right person to “steer the ship” through the separation negotiations that were due to come.
Initially, I thought “Cameron didn’t need to go” – but I changed my mind.
Leading a country is no small thing.
If he didn’t want to spearhead negotiations with Europe then he has done the right thing. It would have no doubt impacted his ability and commitment to lead the government and the nation, and that would have been far worse for him and the people of Great Britain.
After all, he supported the “Remain” campaign, so how could he in good conscience have lead the country out of the EU when it clearly contradicted his beliefs?
Many people are in business and are doing things because they “have to” do them. If you’re one of these business owners, let me ask you: “how’s that going for you?”
I guarantee, if you genuinely don’t believe in what you’re doing, you’re going to lose business – and that’s not the half of it.
You’re going to have a negative impact on your family and relationships.
You’re going to be stressed out and underperforming.
You’re going to hate your customers and your clients.
So do the right thing.
Stop messing about, and don’t lead a business you don’t believe in.
If you can’t steer the ship through these waters, then maybe you’re on the wrong ship.
That doesn’t necessarily mean close your business and go back to a day job – it means going back to doing what you believe in and stop being at the mercy of your business – which can’t hold you mercy anyway!
You don’t “have to” do anything, it’s YOUR business, you have a choice!
Each choice comes with it’s own set of consequences, so choose wisely, but understand that you have a choice.
4. There is no Second Vote
One of the most ridiculous things I came across is the fact that many people voted “Leave” because they didn’t think that Brexit would actually happen – because their vote “didn’t count”.
I’m amazed that people take the privilege of democracy so flippantly.
Here are a bunch of people who actually have a choice in steering their country in the right decision, and they decided that they’re going to waste that opportunity.
I totally want to slap these people and yell at them! Seriously? Do you know how many people would LOVE to have that choice? The choice to exercise their free will and determine their future?
“I would have voted differently…” then why on earth didn’t you do that in the first place?!
You’ve made your bed. Now lie in it.
There is no second vote.
Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Go straight to the jail that you’ve built for yourself for your own irresponsible actions! Seriously!
The lesson here is that as business owners, we tend to lose perspective. We have the time, resourcefulness and the ability to really do something amazing with our business – and we don’t. We whine about how tough it is.
There are people out there who would love the opportunity to be in business, it’s a dream! You’re living the life that they could only imagine!
You don’t have to answer to a boss, you answer to yourself. Don’t waste that time, those resources and that ability, because it won’t come back to you.
Don’t have “voters remorse” because there is no second vote.
Suppose if you closed your business, and five years later you were looking back and reflecting on what you would have done differently, what would you tell yourself?
I’d make more sales calls… I’d network more actively… I’d advertise wisely… I’d deliver more value… I’d hire a mentor… I’d fire my accountant…
Well, come back to the present, because now you know what you have to do! Just go and do it!
Just like the Brexit referendum, there is no second vote. Decide, act and don’t look back.
5. Don’t Give Up Your Identity to Please Others.
Let’s face it – the British are one of the most amazing group of people throughout history. This tiny nation of people have never been conquered since 1066, they’ve fought in many wars and survived, they colonised more than half of the world, and their language is one of the most spoken on earth.
By all accounts, they are a highly successful nation that has done what most nations haven’t even come close to doing.
They’ve created for themselves an identity that the world respects. They are not necessarily liked, but they are certainly respected.
The “Leavers” campaigned that not only was Europe eroding their sovereignty, but their identity as a people was being diluted by unnatural waves of immigration. They wanted to preserve and maintain their identity, after all, they had spent many centuries creating and building it.
Now I don’t necessarily believe that to be true, but there’s a lesson to be learnt there.
The fact that you’re still in business means that you’ve done things relatively successfully. The fact you’re even able to start a business means that you’ve been successful enough to break out of a day job and do so.
Really, take the effort to see what makes you different. I’m not talking about just unique, but I’m talking about the very traits that you have that make you different.
Your history is what makes you who you are, your scars make you who you are. Your wins and losses make who you are – they build your identity and your character.
Use your identity to build your personal brand and win your ideal clients.
You don’t have to change to fit in with other people’s “expectations” – Not your customers, not your spouse, and not the “experts” out there – otherwise you’re just selling yourself out.
If you wanted to sell yourself out, you would have stayed at your fancy corporate job where you were just a number.
You’re the king of the castle here, you run your own show. Proudly show your battle scars, you’ve worked hard at building yourself, so don’t sell out.