APPRENTICE TIPS: Do not please everyone

Tuesday July 9 2019


By Julius Bulili

My trusted advisor recently told me that I was holding myself and my business back by trying too hard to please everyone. He used an excellent phrase that has stuck with me ever!! “You need to be more presidential.” Truly, he was right!!! I do try way too hard to please everyone and I am keenly aware of it. But my rationale has always been that it has generally served me well in my business and I am proud of my reputation, relationships, and my company.

But frankly spoken, it beats the alternative -- I’d rather risk being too nice, too generous, even too eager to please, than to risk the slippery slope of moving in the opposite direction. My advisor said to me that there’s a whole lot of distance between those two extremes, and asked me why don’t I try something in the middle... take it back a notch and be more presidential.

Easier said than done, right? It is my nature to want to make people happy, and I know for sure it is good business. But sometimes it can work to my own detriment. Business may be good, but maybe it would be even better if I spent less time obsessing about pleasing everyone. So I had to find a middle ground.

Many young entrepreneurs and small business owners make a common mistake when they launch their new business or a new product/service. They believe that at launch, they should always target as many customers as they can.

It is logically true, right! If your potential group of customers is larger, aren’t you more likely to succeed? Nop!!! It is incredibly difficult to please everyone. Literally, pleasing some people more means pleasing others less. There is simply no way to create a good balance. This is true for inexperienced business owners and also for some of the world’s most successful Brands. For example, in several occasions Apple unveiled a number of new versions of its mobile operating systems. Based on these changes, some people were excited about the changes, but others found the new operating system confusing, right? You cannot please everyone in business.

As an entrepreneur, trying to please everyone, you definitely are at risk of committing three common mistakes that can easily destroy your business.


Firstly, you will definitely lose focus on your core business. When you try to please everyone, you make compromises. Compromises weaken your brand. By focusing your efforts and not trying to please everyone, you will create a stronger brand and a more successful business. Many businesses fail because their leaders lose focus while trying to incorporate all (or many) of their customers’ suggestions. It’s easy to fall prey to the “yes’ mentality. Saying yes makes us happy. We believe that saying yes is more likely to cause the customer to buy our product or service. Saying yes makes our customers happy.

Ultimately, we want happy customers, but making customers temporarily happy while destroying your company is, in my opinion, an unacceptable cost. No company has unlimited resources and when you say yes to customers – you’re over committing those resources.

Secondly, by pleasing your customers, you are literally confusing them. Your marketing messages should reinforce your brand. But if you try to please everyone, you have to either create targeted marketing messages that uniquely speak to different groups of customers, or sand down your messaging to create a common message that speaks to all customers. In either case, this creates confusion. Hence a complete disaster to your business!!

Thirdly by pleasing everyone in your business you will become less nimble. Successful companies can quickly adapt and evolve – both their products/services and their marketing.

But agility requires discipline. It is a fact that in 1999, Apple had a dwindling share of the computer market. By consolidating its products and focusing its marketing, Apple has become one of the most successful companies in the world.

In conclusion, saying “no” to customers can save your company. To succeed, stop trying to please everyone. My advisor said to me that being presidential means knowing when to say no, when to say yes, when to try, when not to, and how to do either and get the desired results in business. Good luck!!!