This week at The Video Doctors, we’re talking about the assumptions we make in our businesses – and how to identify them, challenge them and decide the best way forward for our own businesses.

Like the Video? Want more? Read on for examples, and a worksheet you can use to do this for yourself!

How many entrepreneurs have made big impacts by doing what they were told, and following the herd?

Lots?

Most of them?

Any?

Not likely. To make a difference, you’ve got to BE different – and that means challenging the assumptions you make in your business.

All of them.

This is NOT as simple as identifying a problem and coming up with a new, innovative way to solve it. That’s important, of course – but the assumptions we can challenge go far, far deeper than that, and can affect everything we DO in our business, from how we promote it, to who we hire, to what we charge.

In the office at one of my old jobs, we had a whole bunch of those StartUp Vitamins coffee mugs. My favourite was tCoffee Mug that says: Always challenge the old ways.he one that said: “Always Challenge the Old Ways.”

I’ve always challenged the old ways a little. It’s never struck me as obvious that the way something was done was the way it should be done – from cooking to relationships to business models.

Why not just try it differently?

Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes, it’s not. Especially when you’re part of a community that really insistently does things a certain way.

One of those things in the online marketing space is the absolute and utter insistence that even as innovators and market disrupters it’s really, really, really important to identify your niche and ideal customer before anything else.

This irritates me profoundly.

SO profoundly that I wrote about it in a guest post for That Marketing Dude last fall. The key point I was trying to make was that even though everyone is teaching and advising that coming up your Niche and identifying your ideal customer is the first step that is TAUGHT, it’s actually kind of an ass-backwards way to try and build a business when you’re just starting out. You can have your niche and customer served up to you on a silver platter if you just try a bunch of things, and sell a bunch of stuff to a bunch of people, then figure out what you and everyone else liked the best.

Flipping the thinking a little bit in terms of the niche and its place in your business turns a HUGE point of procrastination (yes, procrastination)  into the end result of making money and learning things.

And this carries through in SO many areas of our businesses! Just like my old coffee mug – we should ALWAYS challenge our assumptions about everything, especially when it seems like everyone is saying “this is the thing to do.”

It may end up being the right thing to do… but maybe it’s not the right way for YOU and what you want to accomplish.

So think about your particular business and industry… what are the elements you take for granted? What do you see as being just “the way it is?”

Some examples might be:

  • You have to charge premium prices to bring real value.
  • You have to have a landing page to grow an email list.
  • You should try to save money through outsourcing.
  • You should look a certain way and convey a certain image.

Any and all of these COULD be true for you… but unless you ask questions about them and think about different possibilities, you will never know for sure. Ask yourself, really seriously – does it HAVE to be this way?

Is the way that this is done, or the way I have chosen to do it the most honorable? The most effective? The most profitable? Serving the people who need it most? Most in line with my values?

No one has ever changed an industry, or the world, by saying “I’ll just do what everyone tells me.”

So why are we so willing to do it when it comes to learning how to run our businesses? Who is to say that you can’t come up with a better idea on your own?

Think about that for a few minutes this week.

Identify what truths you hold to be true in your business without having really, deeply examined them.

For starters, pick ONE assumption you’re accepting blindly, and try to come up with at least three ways that it could be different.

Here’s what that might look like:

If I’m operating from the assumption that in order to provide REAL value to my coaching clients, I need to charge them premium prices, I can consider a few aspects to that assumption:

  1. Assumption: The people who really need or want my services can afford premium prices.

Maybe the people who can benefit the most from my services don’t HAVE a lot of disposable income, and I can explore sliding scales, sponsorship or patronage, pay it forward or freemium models to make the connections I want to.

  1. Assumption: Working one-on-one is best way for me to deliver maximum value?

Maybe I’ll get further in my business with a one-to-many model, or by connecting OTHER people together and facilitating their work, or by targeting OTHER providers to help them help their end users.

  1. Assumption: Charging premium market rates communicates my value.

Maybe I landed on a price to hit a particular income goal, or match other providers without really considering my expenses and net revenues. Perhaps I can offer a variety of services in a variety of ways to generate the total amount of income I need to stay in business.  Maybe the VALUE I bring isn’t measured in money at all.

Here’s another example:

If I’m operating from the assumption that I need to have an email opt-in to collect enough email addresses to get my business started, I can consider the following:

  1. Assumption: An email list is the best way to grow an online business.

Are email subscribers going to help me more in the long term or the short term – and if it’s not the short term – is that okay for my business right now? Maybe I should be focusing on partnerships or sales to get the ball rolling before I invest in longer term strategy.

  1. Assumption: My customers will read and respond to my emails.

Do my customers like email? Is this how they like to consume the kind of information I share? Is this standard practice in my industry? Maybe social media, or direct calls are better!

  1. Assumption: I can set up a great email and engagement system.

Do I have the ready cash to pay for the services I need? Do I know how to use them? Maybe I can work with contact forms to start, and really focus on the services I offer through direct pitching, and hire a funnel done for me later on.

Pick things you assume to be true, and think through what it would be like if they WEREN’T. Even if you don’t end up using one of your new ideas, you’ll be able to move forward knowing that you considered legitimate alternatives.

If you want a hand with this, use this worksheet – and please – feel free to share this post!

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I’d love to know – what assumptions are you making in your business? Let us know in the comments!