On Saturday, June 7, Steve Coburn, the owner of California Chrome, horse racing's Triple Crown contender, was considered by some to have reacted like a sore loser. After his horse failed to win the Belmont Stakes, Coburn called the racing circuit unfair and demanded changes. He said that all horses should have to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, instead of allowing a fresh horse like Tonalist, the winner of the Belmost Stakes, to run—and win—the last race.
In other words, because his horse didn't win the Triple Crown, Coburn wants to change the rules. He later apologized for his outburst.
Do you ever believe that the odds are stacked against you in your business? While there's a slim chance that's true, it's also true that you may just have to work a little harder to overcome the odds and come out on top.
My definition of a sore loser is someone who wants the rules permanently changed in their favor so they can win every time. In fact, I'd say you're a sore loser if you've ever said any of the following phrases (even privately):
1. "There are too many things in the marketplace beyond my control." The rules of the market are always changing. The key for small-business owners is to take an action, learn what they can, adapt to the market and then try a new action. This gives them the best chance of success.
What to say instead: "I can't control the market. I can only control my actions."
2. "A few key people control who gets the business." While a free market economy is supposed to be equally fair for everyone, it isn't. There are no perfect markets—there are always barriers to entry and exit. Find out who the influencers are, and market to them first.
What to say instead: "Can we meet for lunch?"
3. "That competitor wins because they have an unfair advantage." It's quite possible that one or more of your competitors has an edge because of incumbency, influence, economic power or location. Instead of simply giving up, think about what your company has that could neutralize this.
What to say instead: "I can win at the game I create."
4. "It's too hard to get started. It takes money to make money." This is another chicken-and-egg scenario. It's time for you to build your nest egg. Get your initial paying customers on board, and use those profits to slowly grow your business.
What to say instead: "I will only sell to profitable customers."
5. "The good people are too expensive—all the very profitable or well-funded companies get the best people because they can pay the most." Not everyone takes a job because it pays the most. Find the team members who want to be part of something special and will buy into your dream.
What to say instead: "Let me show you how my vision will change the world."
6. "It's hard to borrow money from a bank without first having money." For the rate at which a bank lends money, it can't afford to take a lot of risk. When you're initially looking for capital, search for sources other than bank loans, including family, friends and crowdsourcing options.
What to say instead: "Mom and Dad (or Friend), can I borrow some money for my business?"
7. "I can't believe Facebook (or Yelp or Twitter) allows customers to post negative comments about my company." Let the haters hate, but respond with empathy and a solution.
What to say instead: "I can understand how you can see it that way. What solution do you suggest?"
Business is unfair, because capitalism is imperfect. But that doesn't mean the rules should be changed so you alone can win. Instead of expecting the rules to be changed in your favor, why not go ahead and break them instead? Your success may depend on it.
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