Impatience: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Soon Min Blog, On growth 20 Comments

Wanting things ‘yesterday’ is part and parcel of life nowadays. If your urban lifestyle and upbringing hasn’t ingrained that, thanks to the instant gratification life we lead it’s difficult to fight that tendency. The inner asian in me is also loaded with beliefs that impatience isn’t a good thing.

As the years progressed, especially during this first year as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to see impatience in a new light. I still tend to see it in a negative light, but have grown to appreciate that it as an emotion that’s useful if it’s approached in the right way.

When it helps you earn

Taking action

When it comes to starting up anything, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘waiting till its perfect’ before doing anything. Impatience can be the emotion that spurs you into taking the necessary steps in the right direction.

Makes you learn how to DIY

Waiting on others to provide their services is unavoidable, but there will be times when there are small matters that might be worthwhile learning to do yourself.

Spurs creative thinking

We take for granted just how resourceful or creative we can be when we set our minds to it. Impatience helps us ask important questions on how to accomplish our goals in better or faster ways.

When it burns

Cutting corners

In our rush to get results, we can unintentionally overlook things. As a result, our products, services and very reputation can be put at risk.

When we lose control

Steve Jobs worshippers might occasionally mention his temper and lashing out at others in his pursuit of perfection. You could belong to the camp that thinks it’s okay, or believe the ends don’t necessarily justify the means.

Unnecessary anguish

On a more personal level, much of our anguish as entrepreneurs come from how we manage our emotions. Impatience can cause us to suffer unnecessarily, especially in matters that are out of our control.

Harnessing the good, while guarding against the bad

Good questions that help us use impatience

What is my goal and why?

The magic behind this question is the ‘why’ portion. When you’ve identified a strong reason behind wanting that goal, you’ll feel a more powerful emotional push. The stronger the emotion, the more likely you’ll be able to spur yourself into action.

What if I don’t take action?

Motivation is sometimes a combination of a pain and gain. If you’ve addressed the gain in the first question, this one allows you to imagine the pain. Feeling stuck in a company where you don’t feel any growth? Working for a boss that you hate? Relaxing on your recent success? What would happen to you in 6 months, 12 months, or 3 years down the line?

How can I achieve my goal in 1/2 the time?

This powerful question puts us into creative mode, and allows us to imagine alternative ways we are able to accomplish what we want. My personal experience with this question is that it not only helped me with alternative routes to my business, but allowed me to look at the bigger picture and plan other areas such as my finances.

Steps that help us manage our impatience

Why am I really feeling impatient?

This simple question becomes more powerful once you ask ‘why’ a few more times. A possible result of this might be you realise that you were directing your frustrations at the wrong target. It allows us to uncover a deeper understanding to the situation, and hopefully add a perspective that neutralises some of that negative feeling.

‘What if’ the other person…?

There’s a nice quote that I read from Tim Ferriss, which was about the times when you ask people for help, and they don’t respond. To paraphrase;

“Don’t ascribe to malice that which incompetence or busy-ness could be the reason”.

Sometimes, people don’t act in the way you expect or want because they either can’t or are just too caught up with their own lives. By asking a rhetorical ‘what if the other person…’ question, we can become more forgiving (and patient) with others.

Managing your physiology

“A hungry man is an angry man” is something I relate to quite well. Much of our emotional state depends on the physiological state we’re in as well. Not enough sleep, hunger, stress, fatigue can all play a part in allowing us to become more snappy and impatient than we really are. Asides from attending to those things, taking a simple break to close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths can be enough to snap you back to a more ‘real’ you.

Impatience doesn’t have to be just a negative influence in our lives. By working with it, we can harness the best of it, while managing the times when it rears its ugly head. How do you strike that balance?

Soon MinImpatience: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Getting back to the road and taking action for 2016

Soon Min Blog, On growth 19 Comments

We’re fast approaching the end of 2015. For some, the holiday mood has already begun, while others are in the midst of plotting out what 2016 will look like. During that process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having too many options, particularly if you’re a solo-preneur like me. With control comes the responsibility of making decisions.

Not only are there the options available, but each have their own set of conditions that you’d be considering. Sorting out and deciding upon what to do becomes a headache. While there’s no perfect formula or pill to help with it, I’ve found that my stuck feelings come when there’s too much influence from external or internal sources. Much like when a car has drifted too much to the left or right of the road and begins to run on gravel. Here are a few questions that have helped push me toward the centre again.

Too much external influence

If you’re like me, it’s easy to drift into this area thanks to over-researching and over-thinking things. Say you’re considering a new business opportunity and are doing research on the market. You’re likely to be able to find many opinions around, both positive or negative. Even when trying your best to work with ‘data’ (vs subjective opinions) you’ll still running into camps for and against the idea.

Too much internal influence

On the other extreme is internal influence. Like it or not, we all have pre-existing ‘operating systems’ that we run on, but might not be aware of. These beliefs colour the way we look at anything. If you’re like me, slightly pessimistic and risk averse in general, you might skew towards too much self doubt. The opposite version of that is megalomania, where you believe that it is your destiny to succeed, in which case you wouldn’t have issues with making the decisions. Just the consequences.

A few steps to get you back on that road

Don’t make emotional decisions

This is for those of us that might make hasty decisions every now and then. While I believe in using emotions as a guide, I’ve also learned the hard way that heightened emotions are the worse state to be in when you’re making an important business decision. Acknowledge those feelings and note why you’re feeling that way. Let yourself calm down as you continue to gather more information and perspective.

What’s the worse case scenario?

It’s a great question that helps to remove some of the fear associated with making big decisions. Fear has a nasty way of lingering around, particularly if you’re suffering from a blow to your confidence or self esteem. I realised that many times (not all) it’s actually like being young and afraid of shadows. Our general fear fogs the mind, only to clear when you really scrutinise it. By looking at what is the worse that could happen objectively, you’d be surprised to see that it’s far from being life threatening!

What can I gain from taking action regardless of the outcome?

If you’re afraid of taking action because you’re unsure of it being the ‘right choice’ or just don’t want to waste time, money or resources, this is the question for you. Whatever decision that you take will bring you its own range of experiences, each with their own learning opportunities. In itself lies a decision whether to approach it as a learning opportunity, or to let it pass you by without notice.

What are you leaning towards emotionally?

When you noted your emotions earlier, how did you feel? Was it anticipation and excitement? Was it fear or greed? It’s likely to be a mixture of each, but they would culminate in a yes or no decision at the end, which can be hard to decipher! One neat trick is to flip a coin. It’s not to let fate decide, but for you to notice what outcome you were hoping for as the coin fell. While rough, it can be enough to add a little clarity.

Break the decision into baby steps and take action

It finally comes to the point where you’ve got to make a decision and take action. There’s a strange and irrational belief that takes over sometimes. “If I do this, there’s no going back!” Guess what? Most of our decisions are rarely cast in stone, and aren’t life commitments we can’t turn back from. To make things easier, break those decisions into smaller bite sized chunks, and just take one step at a time. As you move and build momentum, more clarity will come.

The bigger the decision, the more complex it can become and scarier too. Even if we don’t act, it’s a decision in itself. As you prep for a better 2016, I hope these steps help you take action. What are some of your own methods?

Soon MinGetting back to the road and taking action for 2016

2 Powerful customer needs and how marketers ‘help’ them

Soon Min Blog, On strategy 15 Comments

Photo credit: (M.E) Morgan via / CC BY-NC-ND

For much of our waking lives, we’re being engaged by some company or another in their quest to get our attention and/or money. The fascinating bit is that even though some of us might be aware of it (especially those with a marketing or advertising history), we’re still suckers for some of the tricks they play.

Some simply nudge us in the right direction of a decision (okay, it’s ‘their’ direction), while others have hooks that sink deeper by really getting under our skin. As entrepreneurs, there’s much we can learn from these tricks, and as customers ourselves, perhaps a slightly improved resistance. Here are some of the interesting ones I’ve seen.

The need to feel like they made a smart choice

Everyone likes a deal. It might not be literally be the ‘cheapest’, but as long as they feel that they’ve got the best value and made a good decision.

Tactic 1: Comparisons between competitors or before/after

Most marketers tend to stop at providing a list of product features. Those a little better are able to distill the benefits from those features, and highlight them in an appealing way. The power marketer understands that if it’s not some competitor they need to take into account, it’s inertia they have to battle.

This tactic is brought to life by using charts, infographics or side-by-side lists depending on the medium. An experiment was conducted with the Economist’s subscription service by Dan Ariely (a behavioural economist). Here’s what the form looked like:


If you look at 2 and 3, it seems silly to even bother having the Print Only option, but what the research found was that because of it, more people chose the expensive subscription. This is in comparison to the other version tested that only had Online + Print/Online, where the majority chose Online only (the cheapest option). When done in the right way, comparisons help customers make what they think of as a smart decision. 

Tactic 2: Copywriting that overtly suggests it
This tactic is deceptively simple. Customers are faced with a sea of information and distraction, which makes it harder to process and make decisions. So, if for example, you’re selling a bag with fairly large dimensions and assume that people would come to that conclusion just by reading the size description, you might not be getting as many customers as you could.

The tactic simply calls for you to make it obvious when you present your offer. An experiment by Carnegie Mellon University modified a sales page from “A $5 Fee” to “A Small $5 Fee” saw a 20% increase in conversions.

The need to feel in control and secure

We can be a skeptical bunch when it comes to purchases, especially if they’re large ones. To counteract this, marketers can help us believe we’re making a safe decision.

Tactic 1: Price reframing or staggered payments

When it comes to purchases that have higher costs, the price tag alone can scare people off. For example, an insurance policy that would cost you an annual fee of $1200. As an up front cost, that kind of money sounds too much, and would likely have an ‘unknown’ (but bad) impact upon my spending capability.

By simply reframing the cost as ‘From only $100 a month’, ‘Less than $3.50 a day’ or maybe even ‘Less than a Starbucks latte a day’, the fee doesn’t become so scary or unknown.

Tactic 2: Addressing objections up-front

Very few purchases are made without some level of resistance. This uncertainty usually revolves around the features and benefits of what you’re offering. If you’ve engaged with enough customers, you’d likely have a sense of the type of Q&A that they bring up frequently. Alongside this, you’d also be exposed to common excuses as to why some of them resisted making the decision.

This tactic is used where there’s a possibility to engage the customer for a longer period, whether during a live sales pitch, brochure, or landing page. Internet marketers do this well, by bringing up and addressing the common objections up front (often times before the customer even ‘thinks it’). The end effect is that customers feel that his concerns are noted, the brand is being open and honest, and thus more confident in making a purchase.

Neil Patel, internet marketing guru and founder of CrazyEgg wrote a great piece about this here.

What are some of the tactics that you tend to use when it comes to nudging the customer in your favour?

Soon Min2 Powerful customer needs and how marketers ‘help’ them