I was speaking with my barber the other day, and he started talking about golf.

My barber explained that he plays at least 30 to 40 rounds every year. He practices at least twice a week, and takes a few lessons every year. He frequently breaks 85, and occasionally even 80. He explained that he continually works to perfect his form, makes small tweaks to his swing and watches the results. If it doesn’t work, he corrects himself.

I, on the other hand, am not a very good golfer. I’ve played well over 100 rounds in my lifetime, but I’ve had a tough time mastering the sport. While I occasionally have a beautiful swing, I’m always surprised when the ball connects. For every 100 swings, I may have 50 great shots. But I don’t practice all that often, and I haven’t taken a lesson in about 10 years. So I shouldn’t be overly surprised or disappointed when I miss.

When I miss, it’s expected. When my barber misses, he knows what he did wrong, and adjusts.

Golf is an easy sport to play, and a hard sport to master.

You wouldn’t go up to the golf ball without ever having practiced and expect to be a good golfer, right?

Now, let’s relate this to the startup entrepreneur.

Many entrepreneurs have incredibly unique skills in a specific area, or graduate from college with a skill in a particular trade. For example, you may have a skill in plumbing or gymnastics. But if you start a plumbing company or gymnastics studio, that skill doesn’t make you an expert in succeeding at business.

Understanding and becoming an expert in business is as much of a skill as understanding how to nail a dismount, or, connect with a golf ball, but knowledge in one doesn’t presume knowledge or skill in the other. And that’s where many startup entrepreneurs fumble.

I’ve heard a countless number of people say, “If I build it, they will come.”

Reality check. NO, THEY WON’T.

Why do so many entrepreneurs believe they should open their business first, then figure out how to sell and market their product, well after the business is open?

That’s analogous to getting up to a golf ball, and then learning to swing at that time.

You wouldn’t do that, would you?

Here’s the thing: If you’re trying to figure out how marketing and sales work well after you’ve opened your business, it’s no wonder that your business is struggling, your sales are stagnant, your business isn’t profitable, and you’re having a problem keeping the lights on.

And just as a golfer needs constant practice to perfect their game, an entrepreneur needs to study, for countless hours, in order to perfect the art of marketing.

If you’re running a small business without being educated about the specifics, you shouldn’t be too surprised when the business doesn’t grow as much as you want it to.

If you want your business to flourish, then you need to take a page out of my barber’s playbook, and “play 30 to 40 rounds a year, practice at least twice a week, and take a few lessons a year.” In other words, you need to put as much time into understanding the art of marketing as my barber spends on his golf game.

What does that mean?

You need to listen to hundreds of podcasts on business and marketing, and take courses on Facebook advertising, Google PPC, landing-page optimization, marketing automation, and email marketing. After you understand these key elements, the results will follow.

Nailing marketing is one of the main keys to succeeding in business. Now go practice.

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