Can’t…Or Won’t?

People are lazy communicators.

How are you today? Fine. In some cases, that is the preferred answer. When I ask my kids what they did today, the universal answer is, “Nothing.” Have any plans this weekend? “Not really.”

Then there’s the lazy response that losers love to give to any question pertaining to why they are failing: “I can’t.” People widely overuse it to inaccurately explain something away. As in, “I can’t get my clients to buy managed services… I just can’t find a good salesperson… I just can’t get anyone to return my call… I can’t raise my prices.”

Barring a genuine limitation, like you can’t jump to the moon, “can’t” is just a lazy replacement for the truth: either you don’t know how, or you don’t want to. More often than not, it’s the latter, with a touch of the former, because the TRUTH is that if you truly, deeply, absolutely WANT to do something, you’ll LEARN how.

Right now, I don’t know how to play the violin. That doesn’t mean I can’t. But in conversation, most people would just say, “I can’t play,” and leave it at that. Do I want to? No. So, of course, I’m not going to put the time in to figure it out. The truth is I have no interest in it.

But what about something you ARE interested in? Take a business owner struggling to grow and make a profit. Why are you still under a million after 10 years? They say, “I can’t do marketing…I’m a tech.” So when you were born, the doc slapped your ass and said, “This one’s a TECH!”? I think not. Marketing is a skill that can be learned, practiced and mastered. It’s not a trait you’re born with like your eye color or skin color.

Some might say they don’t care…they don’t want to “make millions.” Really? So, if I were to drop off a million dollars to you in small, unmarked bills, you’d send me away? Not likely. As Jordan Peterson so succinctly stated in Rule 8: tell the truth, or AT LEAST don’t lie. But people tell lies all day long, mostly to themselves.

Years ago I worked with a very nice woman who was significantly overweight. We shared an office, so I got to see her daily habits. She always had a big bag of peanut M&Ms in her desk drawer that she would eat all day, every day, by the fistfuls. Personally, I didn’t care – but SHE did.

She often complained about her weight, about not being able to find clothes that fit her, and would follow those complaints with, “I just can’t lose weight!” One day after she’d told me her frustrations with her weight, I gently suggested that she might cut out the M&Ms for a bit and see what happens. Well, that went over like a turd in a punch bowl.

My guess is she had an eating disorder that she needed to address…but she was incorrect in saying she “can’t” lose weight. It’s a simple math problem – you eat fewer calories than you consume. The end. Yes, yes, yes, hormones and stress DO make it more difficult. Yes, she probably needed counseling to figure out why she was compelled to overeat. Yes, it’s possible she had a medical condition that made weight loss difficult. But “can’t”? Impossible. Not a chance. No one can stay fat if they restrict their calories to less than their body is burning. No one. It’s medically impossible.

Many tell me they “can’t” do marketing or “can’t” be good at sales. Baloney. What they mean is they don’t want to do marketing, and they don’t want to learn how to sell.

Often we have people coming to us for marketing help, only to say they “can’t” afford it.

Years ago at an event, a member wore me out telling me all the bad things that happened that had negatively impacted his cash flow and sales and that he HAD to drop out of the membership because he “can’t” afford it. He begged me to give him a few months free, even though I had done nothing wrong and I was not contractually obligated to do so.

After I agreed, and we got into some small talk, he proceeded to tell me he was headed home from the event early because he and his wife were going on a vacation to Jamaica. I promptly informed him there would be no free months…

Here’s what I told him: “If you need an excuse to drop out of a program designed to help you with success and progress in YOUR business to achieve YOUR stated goals, because you CHOOSE not to follow it, stick with it or apply it, for whatever the reason, at least be honest about it. Fabricating a giant story doesn’t make the outcome any different for you or for me. Frankly, you do yourself way more harm than you do to me.”

I also suggested he consider what he CAN afford. Your business is struggling; growth is not happening; Your people, operations, service are not excellent, and you don’t have a single reliable marketing system in place OR a sales process you can depend on – AND you’re going to Jamaica? That tells me everything I need to know. Cuban would call you a “wantre-preneur.” O’Leary would have strong words.

At least be honest with yourself and say you won’t invest in your business, you won’t invest in marketing, you won’t stick with anything long enough to succeed and you won’t be a serious student of success principles. It’s more fitting.

Here’s a final tip: If you’re an MSP, you need to be at one of the 6 Roadshow events we’re doing this fall where we’ll show you how to position your MSP for maximum growth and profitability in the new emerging economy. It’s only $97 (thanks to our generous sponsors), and you will leave with a boatload of GREAT marketing materials, campaigns and moneymaking strategies specific to MSPs that you can plug in the minute you get home.

Can’t go? Hmmmmm…

The Great MSP Reset: Essential 2-Day Workshop For MSPs- Only $97!

There’s no doubt about it: Robin Robins has helped more MSPs and IT services companies to grow and prosper, liberating them from stagnation, frustration, drudgery and low incomes. For over 20 years, Robin has been showing MSPs and IT services firms how to implement marketing plans that attract higher-quality clients, lock in recurring revenue streams and secure high-profit contracts. Her methods have been used by over 10,000 IT services firms around the world, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar MSPs. For more information and a FREE copy of The MSP’s Ultimate Guide To IT Services Marketing And Lead Generation, go to


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