Imagine that you’re filling your bathtub for a nice relaxing soak. You’ve got the water on full blast at just the right temperature, and the soap suds are perfectly proportioned. Yet there’s a problem: the water rises to a decent level, but never quite tops out to where you’d like it. Despite leaving the water on and stepping away for a while, nothing changes.
Then you realize the source of the problem: there’s a hole in the drain. It may just be a small one, but it’s a hole—water disappears down it in one direction only, never to return.
What do you do? You could leave the water on full blast for the entire soak, which might not be that relaxing. Or you could try to fix the problem by plugging the hole.
One of these solutions is much more logical than the other, of course.
Most of us, when considering the matter of the never-filling bathtub, would immediately think “We should fix that leaky hole.” We’re smart enough to realize that just running the water non-stop isn’t the brightest idea.
Yet in our business—whatever that business is—sometimes we aren’t nearly as wise. We spend all our time trying to fill the tub, doing whatever we can to increase the pressure on the spigot and bring in more customers, clients, or subscribers. Meanwhile, a lot of people who are already on board find themselves feeling neglected, and eventually they go away.
Instead of looking for the next big thing, and instead of trying to serve all the people all the time, slow down and look at what’s right in front of you. You may have a much more successful business if you shift your focus to serving the people who have already trusted you with money or attention.
How can you better serve the groups and individuals with whom you’re already connected? How can you plug the hole in your bathtub instead of just continuing to add more and more water?
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.
Image courtesy of Timothy Dykes.