Yesterday I went to the circus with my son, Elliot. It was the famous “Billy Smart’s Circus” – the one I remember from my own childhood. Elliot sat transfixed, mouth open wide, as the first act arrived – a group of men and women who climbed like monkeys up huge 40 feet high poles and did all sorts of acrobatics on them. Chico the clown was a great favourite with the audience as well and the trapeze artists were simply amazing. Coming out of the circus Elliot was full of questions. How did the magician turn a box on fire into a lady? How come the trapeze artists performed tricks no-one else in the world had attempted? How much do you get paid if you work in the circus? Typical questions from a 7-year-old. But they made me think. The trapeze artists were only in the show for around 10 minutes. With two shows a day, they only work for 20 minutes a day. Yet, they clearly cannot perform so well without hours of practice each day. Similarly, Chico the clown had to fill time whilst the stage crew had to deal with a problem in the ring (an item that had been used by the previous act just would not fly up to the roof of the Big Top. Yet, the children didn’t even notice. Chico used his expertise to do additional funny things and tricks, occasionally glancing to see if the stage crew had managed to complete their task. Only a clown with practised skills could carry that off so well. And as for the magician – you simply cannot turn a burning box into a woman without several practice sessions..! So what does this tell us about online business? Well most people I meet who try some kind of online business – such as using a blog to promote their work, or setting up a shopping cart – tend to do it once or twice and then give up because “it isn’t working” or “it’s too difficult”. What most people are doing with their online business is the early practice of the trapeze artists. I bet if you had been to their practice sessions they kept falling off, landing in the safety net and getting back up and starting again. But how many times do you think this routine happened before they succeeded in performing the most difficult trapeze trick in the world? Once? Twice? Probably hundreds. Most online businesses fail because of lack of practice. People make one or two attempts at something and then give up because it isn’t working. What you need to succeed online is dozens, maybe hundreds of goes at something until you find the way it works best for you and your customers. Giving up too soon would have meant that the trapeze artists wouldn’t have amazed me and Elliot. Neither would they have got a job. And if like Elliot you are wondering if it’s all worth it, try booking a circus act for your company’s dinner dance. You won’t have much change from £1,500 for a 20 minute show. It’s worth it.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+