Your Single Most Important Role as a Business Owner by @DarcieHarris


by Darcie Harris | Guest Post

I don’t mean to scare you, but here’s just a short list of companies that have failed in just the last three years:

• Bennigan’s
• Borders Books
• Blockbuster
• Crabtree and Evelyn
• Hostess (no more Twinkies)
• Hummer
• Pontiac
• Ultimate Electronics
• Woolworths (for those of you old enough to remember!)

Wow, those are some powerful brands that somehow became…well, irrelevant.

What about you? Are you completely confident that your company will be here in three years?

Not just surviving. Thriving.

Here’s a metaphor to help women business owners fully embrace their role as leaders and prevent becoming irrelevant: think of yourself as orchestra conductor.


One of the most important roles the orchestra conductor plays (no pun intended!) is to put herself the role of the audience and ask what they want.

Wow, there’s a concept!

I’ll never forget seeing Garth Brooks interviewed years ago. He said the first thing he does when his band gets to the venue where they will perform – those huge arenas and giant stadiums – is to find the seat in that’s farthest away from the stage.

He walks out and sits in that seat and asks himself, “What does this guy need to get HIS money’s worth?”

What a great example of a business owner who “gets it.”

I bet your taste in music has changed in the last ten years, along with the way you listen to music.

That’s my point. My guess is, your customer’s needs have changed as well.

Resistance to change is fatal. Business graveyards are littered with companies that said, “But this is how we always did it.”

Sadly, some companies are so deeply invested in their own traditions that they tend to confuse those traditions with their real function.

You’ll be surprised at one “industry” that has done a great job of embracing change: churches!

As demographics changed, churches needed to appeal to a younger market. Some use multi-media programs; some integrate contemporary music & drama into their Sunday morning services. Others offer casual services on Friday evenings. They work at addressing the needs of young families.

They’ve paid attention to their market (their audience). Sure they left behind a few traditions, like some of the formality, some of the old hymns. But they attracted an entirely new market of young people.

Think about this:

• MEDIOCRE Companies survive by MEETING customers’ needs
• GOOD companies grow by ANTICIPATING customers needs
• GREAT companies thrive by CREATING needs for customers

Twenty years ago I was not walking around thinking “I need a phone in my purse” (let alone thinking I needed an entire computer in my purse!).

No. Someone created that need for me. Now I can’t live without my smart phone. Neither can you. Someone had a vision of what could be.

Don’t resist changing needs. Embrace them.

Be an orchestra conductor. Anticipate your customers’ needs get out ahead of them.

Be like Garth Brooks. Sit in the last row and ask yourself, “What can we do to give THIS woman her money’s worth?”


Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 11.11.37 AMDarcie Harris is a champion for women. An international speaker, trainer, and award-winning consultant, loves helping women achiever their personal best. Darcie founded EWF International®, a company offering peer advisory groups, coaching and consulting for female entrepreneurs and executives, and the Alpha Mare Academy™, an online educational resource for women business owners. To learn more, visit,, or email

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