“The Longer The Backstory, The Worse The Business.”

I watch Shark Tank probably a little TOO much. My husband has threatened me multiple times with just canceling my DVR recording without warning. “Who needs 20 episodes of Shark Tank at a time?” Is his [obviously specious] argument.

But I keep watching, despite that. Why? Because to me, it’s a constant reminder of keeping the eye on your bottom line. This is something I as a pie-in-the-sky INFJ, don’t always love to focus on.shark-305004

The story matters. It really does. In fact, especially in our business, people want to know why you are doing what you do – what makes you care about it. But it’s not the only thing that matters.

What also matters are the facts.

The title of this post is taken from a Mark Cuban quote, uttered in frustration at the end of a typical answer to a typical question. “What makes your product different?” The people pitching their product responded as most do: “We’re passionate about it!” Wrong answer. The more they tried to fill in the gaps by expressing their story, how much they put into it, how much they wanted it to succeed, the more frustrated everyone else would get. Then Cuban said – Enough. “The longer the backstory, the worse the business.”

Why is this true? Because it means the business owner doesn’t have a handle on why the business exists outside of their love of it.

And that’s not enough.

cash-register-23665The love you have for your business is enough of a reason to create it. It’s enough of a reason for you to keep doing it. But it’s not enough for people to want to invest in it – whether it’s a literal investment like in the case of the Shark Tank, or a more measured investment of your client’s time, money, and energy.

Why should someone buy from you?

What do you do in counseling that makes it worth your client’s while to show up every time?

Some therapists can be intimidated by that statement – what do I really have to offer? But I encourage you to see this as a challenge rather than a point of intimidation.

It’s not about creating something valuable to do for clients, it’s about identifying and improving upon what you already do that’s valuable to your clients.

What do your clients say that you help them with? What do they praise you for?

Outside of your clients: what else of value is in your practice?

  • Do you meet your financial goals regularly?
  • Do you have a unique niche for your area?
  • Do you have a high-value location to meet clients?
  • Is your intake process especially user-friendly?
  • Do you have a high referral rate?

All of these are measures that could add value to your business were you pitching it in something like the Shark Tank, but also are ways you can objectively measure how well your business is doing – outside of your passion for it.

Put aside the backstory for a minute, and focus on objectively evaluating the desirable features of your business. Improve them where they need it, and set goals to keep up with it in the future.

If you build a practice that someone else would invest in, you have a practice that will pay you back in more ways than one.


Comments on “The Longer The Backstory, The Worse The Business.”

  1. Zim says:

    Great writing Stephanie! I am also an INFJ, but I’ve not seen Shark Tank. But I have something to offer about the “Backstory” that applies to counseling as well as business. Even though it is important to have people tell “their story” to some extent in counseling, and for counselors to get some history, I can say unequivocally in my experience “The longer the backstory, the worse the therapy!” This is because, in my view, both client’s and therapists are overly identified with the content of the backstory. Just as most communication is non-verbal, the real meat of therapeutic value doesn’t come from conceptual content or story, it comes on a much deeper somatic, emotional, and soul level. This happens in the present moment in the realm of intuition and the collective unconscious, which is certainly not give much attention in graduate schools!

    1. Stephanie Adams, MA, LPC, MYOB Site Creator says:

      Shark Tank is a fun show to watch for businesspeople – you learn a lot! I like how you created a different observation from the same phrase – I see what you’re talking about! Content is only what’s spoken – the real mystery is indeed what’s underneath and why! I think that aspect is what makes our job (to me) unceasingly interesting!

      Thanks for sharing!

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