Business Owner Or Tradesman, Which One Are You?

By Bruce Poling

I was looking over some of my old blog posts and found this one written about 10 years ago.  I thought I would post it here and invite feedback from anyone with an opinion on its relevance today.


Really, we are exploring “value” in the eyes of the customer and how to identify it.

Since the time I wrote this article  I have learned so much more and have so much more technical knowledge but am really happy to see that my feelings and opinions today have stayed true to what they were many years ago and I can see the foundation of learning for me in this article.

Please feel free to send feedback.

Originally published on CMO in 2007 by “Bruce Poling”


Recently, I had a very interesting and sad conversation with a business owner who had been in business for over 30 years. To him the most important thing was how HE wanted to build cabinets and what HE thought was the best ways of doing things. The conversation never deviated from the focus on what HE thought. Even though there were much better ways of doing things that his customers would be just as happy with (if not more) and these methods would earn him much more profit, he was not interested because that was not how HE wanted to do it.

I could not say anything that would change his focus to question what his customers wanted or thought. ​

I find this topic is a very common topic and my most successful clients are the ones where the light has come on at some point in the conversation (you can actually see it happen) and they realize they are not building a product for themselves, they building it for their customers. There is no opinion that is more important than your customers.


This particular owner I was talking to was such an extreme case, I felt inspired to write about it. He has been in business for over 30 years and never really achieved a high level of business success other than to say he has been in business for 30 years. The sad part is that when the hard times hit recently, it forced him to look elsewhere for revenue because this business of 30 years had no cash reserve to see him through the hard times.


In essence, it was like he was in his first year in business because he had learned nothing new in the 30 years.

I felt very sorry for this individual because he is a very nice honest, hardworking person who has done nothing dishonest or illegal to deserve the rough times he was going through, however, 30 years of his life seem to be wasted.

I have often said that the number of years in business are meaningless unless you learn something new each year and apply what you have learnt, keep your company’s revenue streams diverse, implement continuous improvement across your enterprise and ensure profitability. If you do the same thing every year, it doesn’t matter how many years you are in business, it only counts for one year at best!


Finding a good industry specialist coach/consultant who will provide you with a good “no bull” opinion on your company and areas where and how you can improve will be money well spent. This does not necessarily need to cost thousands, but if a recommendation that cost you $1000  saves you thousands throughout the year and increases your net profits, that will be the best $1000 you have ever spent.


Remember, a good consultant lives and dies by how many successful clients they have, so what they charge you is not where they make their money. They will make their money when you achieve success from their recommendations and spread the good

word . So they are a stakeholder in your success just as much as you are.

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