This week on Marketing Smarts, I speak with John Jantsch, the man behind Duct Tape Marketing. John's most recent book is The Commitment Engine, and it focuses on the very personal work that small business owners need to do to build a business that, because it is imbued with purpose, attracts committed employees and customers.

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I call this work "personal" because it involves, as John describes it, a great deal of introspection, reflection, and mindfulness—all activities aimed at producing a sense of clarity with regard to the purpose of the business one seeks to build.

Far from being some form of kumbaya-infused navel-gazing, however, this search for a clarity of purpose is, to John's mind, critical to sustainable business success and core to building a community that will support the business through thick and thin.

"If you can create something [around] a very powerful message," John told me, "a business that's built very much on 'Here's why we do what we do,' and there is an audience that is not getting that from somewhere else, they will become extremely loyal and help you build a very, very profitable business."

Growth Demands Change

"I don't find that you can ever grow unless you change," John said, "unless you create new behaviors, unless you create new habits and go out there and do things that you have never done before."

The process of gaining greater clarity around the purpose of your business and your work can present it's own set of challenges. Specifically, it can cast a light on things that you may need to change about yourself and your organization if you want to achieve your goals. While that may make some uncomfortable, that's a feeling that you need to embrace if you would like to move forward.

"If I ever get really comfortable," John explained, "and I start having this 'Wow, everything is really clicking along just as planned and everything is great' [feeling], then something is wrong. I'm not pushing. I'm not experimenting. I'm not exploring."

According to John, the uncomfortable feelings that confront us when we are trying to create something—change something, grow something—need to be carefully heeded. 

"If you're feeling nervous," John said, paraphrasing Steven Pressfield, "if you're feeling fear, that's a sure sign from the universe that that's the thing you need to be attacking the most."

Rather than red flags or signs of danger telling us to turn back, such feelings are really indicators that we need to press on, however daunting that may seem.

The Importance of Daunting Goals

As it turns out, the goals we set for ourselves and our businesses should provoke precisely these feelings. In The Commitment Engine, John warns against "playing small," that is, setting goals that are too modest to actually be motivating. 

According to John, small business owners (and not just them!) fall in a trap by setting "reasonable" goals. For example, if you are a doing well in your business, but you want to grow, it might be reasonable to shoot for 10% or even 20% growth year over year. Entirely reasonable.

The problem is, as John points out, "that is not a big enough number for you to think how you've got to change the business or how you've got to operate differently."

To get there, John suggests, you've got to be more audacious. 

"What if you said, 'This year we're going to double our business or we're going to triple our business'?" he asked.

"Even if you didn't know how you were going to do it," he continued, "what it would start is the process of forcing you to think differently, completely differently, about your business."

Think Big

In his most recent book, John writes, "If your goals aren't big enough, they won't come true."

What every business owner needs to ask is, "Are my goals big enough, not just to make a difference in the world, but to make a real difference in how I do business?"

Are yours?

If you would like to hear my entire conversation with John Jantsch, you may listen above or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. You can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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