As I watched the vote on whether or not the United Kingdom should leave the European Union, it was no surprise when the result was the one no one thought would happen. Even those that campaigned to leave thought they had lost.
So what went wrong and what are the lessons, both at vote time and subsequently, for business owners running their own businesses?
The first thing that went wrong is that the people who were voting were not listened to. While the people worried about immigration, the bosses in parliament focused on the economy.
How often to businesses run into trouble because they don't listen to their customers and then get surprised when they vote to leave? I often come across businesses that try and shoehorn their customers into what the business owner wants them to buy rather than what the customer actually wants.
It is often said that it is ten times easier to sell to a customer that you already have than to find a new one. However, that assumes that you take heed of the cheapest market research going by talking to your customers.
If politicians had listened to their constituencies they would have understood the real problem and could have addressed their concerns.
The other thing that has struck me since the vote, and which also has a message for business, is the obsession with the politicians on both sides to make themselves the issue rather than the requirements of the people.
The number of prominent people that decided that the democratic vote was stupid astounded me. What they meant was that it did not agree with their vested interest or view.
How often to businesses discount the views of their clients as plain wrong because they do not coincide with their own view of the universe? And more recently, how often is the business more about the owner and their ego, rather than about the workers and the customers?
Before you castigate a politician for what happened with the vote, ask yourself a couple of questions. Firstly, when was the last time I listened to a customer and adapted my product or service accordingly? Secondly, if I had to put the workforce, the customers and me in order, would customers and workers come before me?
Now is the time to take action and stop your own possible Business Exit!