Why Doesn't My Mirror Work?

Education & Training SmallBusinessCT .org

I'd love to go into this diatribe about how the mirrors in Nordstrom's are rigged to make me look thinner and better in the clothes I try on there (probably not a bad sales strategy, come to think of it!) Today, I'll spare you the pain of that conversation. Take a moment, however, and reflect on this. Every morning you walk into your bathroom and look at yourself. Day in, day out... same thing every day. Then all of a sudden, you see a picture posted on Facebook. It's you! A much older/grayer/heavier version of that person you see in the mirror each morning. How did you not notice all that gray? Why did you think that shirt looked so great? There is this conditioned blindness that occurs every time you look in the mirror. Your brain is so accustomed to seeing things as they were, it doesn't always see things as they are.

Same theory applies in business.

In February, I spent some time with a small business owner who was nervous about sales. Her expectation was much greater for her newest location and she couldn't seem to figure out why, despite some very beautiful stores in prime locations, her sales had either underperformed or stagnated. She was contemplating firing one of her managers.

I went to meet with her. As she was standing next to me, she started to have that Facebook moment. It wasn't what I said as much as the fact that she was looking at her store through a completely different set of eyes. As we worked with her, she started to realize that the way she saw her business was not the way her customers saw her business. What she held most important to her, was not why her customers were shopping there. As we peeled back the onion and helped her connect the right message to her strategy and customer, her business has begun to soar. Today, only a few short months later, she attributes our support to adding over $100,000 in incremental sales.

One of the true joys that inspires our passion with Small Business CT/USA has been the continuous success stories. What we see differs greatly, however, there is one absolute. Until a business owner can see their business without blinders, they will never move forward.

Here are some tips to test if you have conditioned blindness in your business:

  • Your sales do not continue to grow year-after-year (Please stop blaming the economy!!)
  • You have not received critical feedback in over 30 days from a customer
  • You have not made any changes to your operating strategy in over 1 year (even the absolute best companies re-evaluate their strategies year-after-year, complacency in business is death)
  • You stopped goal setting (real, honest-to-goodness goal setting)
  • Your top performers continue to be your top performers and your bottom performers continue to be your bottom performers

Lastly, remember that friends and business associates will never be the mirror for you. There is too much to lose, whether it be strained friendships or the need for continuous referrals from you. Add their lack of expertise or fear of confrontation, and it's even more challenging to receive value-added feedback.

In order to truly assess your business accurately, you need to leverage an accurate self-assessment. Just looking in the mirror at yourself is not enough. It's important to look at your business through a different set of eyes and different standards. A customer's needs and wants change rapidly. How customers want to be found also changes. Just because you've been in business for 10+ years does not mean you've figured it out, it just means you've figured it out so far.

Whether it's your customers, surveys, analyzing your sales, or a consultant or program like ours, it's important that you step back, pause, and TRULY see where you are. Although I'm regularly driven by instinctual behavior and would never challenge someone to not "go with their gut," be sure your gut has 20/20 vision first.


To your success.

Colleen Ferrary, Founder Small Business CT/USA


Comments (20)

Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

Hi Collen, Joe sent me over. Welcome to Active Ran. You are a great writer as I can see and I love the principle behind this post as well as the cool cat/lion photo.

My joke is to say to people is sort of an arrogant way "I only shop at Nordstroms" and then two seconds I say "Rack".


Jun 28, 2014 11:38 PM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes™- by eXp Realty - Vancouver, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Great post Colleen. I've always suspected those mirrors are rigged. Lol. 
This is such compelling advice - and a good challenge. I'll be giving this some serious thought today. Welcome to the Rain.

Jun 28, 2014 11:50 PM
Janice Zaltman
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL
Energy Efficient And Eco-Friendly Homes in Florida

Colleen, what you describe illustrates perfectly that we could all benefit from having a coach or someone who is truthful has us see things in  different ways that propel us forward.  And regarding the Nordstroms mirrors, I want one. Much better when we can look at ourselves with love rather than our perceived "flaws"

Jun 28, 2014 11:54 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

You are so right about this.  And, this weekend, I've been in the process of analyzing my biz for this year as we are off of our goals and the 7 years of growth have stopped.  Part of it has been the weather this year which has delayed things 2 months, but part of it looks like a broader trend.  So, came up w/ 3 action items to do over next 3 months, so we right this ship.

Jun 28, 2014 11:55 PM
ReadySetLoan Team
ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC - South Windsor, CT
Residential, Commercial & Condo Financing Experts

HI Colleen - this is a fantastic article.  The success of my business will be determined by how easy or difficult we make the process for property managers.  We are constantly seeking their feedback and use it to improve.  In sales, it's all about the customers!

Jun 29, 2014 12:11 AM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Hello Colleen and Welcome to AR. Goo info in the post. Alwaysgood to have these types of reminders.

Jun 29, 2014 01:09 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Colleen!  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites.  This makes two great posts in a row!

Jun 29, 2014 01:09 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is very good advice for every real estate professional. Those that fail to make needed changes may be left behind.


Jun 29, 2014 04:44 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

I think you have hit on something that had escaped me, Colleen!  Like you, I think department store mirrors are rigged to make us look thinner

Jun 29, 2014 04:45 AM
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

Time marches on and sometimes our mind's eye, and business plan, remain stuck in the past.

Jun 29, 2014 06:41 AM
Alexa Sanchez
Bushkill, PA
Realtor Extraordinaire

Awesome post! You reminded me of some if the self analysis we did in corporate in America! Spot on!

Jun 29, 2014 06:44 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Collen I just finished reading Joe's blog, so I wanted to come on over and welcome you to ActiveRain.

Jun 29, 2014 09:09 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

Colleen, well, first off, gotta love ya 'cause Colleen is my middle name and you don't see it "on people" very often! Secondly, welcome to the fold. You've found your place already, it seems! (I am now following). Third, thanks to Pat Kennedy, you've been spotted by more than the feature folk. A well-deserved thumbs up! (And, yes, those mirrors lie, but hey, so long as we look through kind eyes, we're still okay!)

Jun 29, 2014 01:44 PM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Good morning Colleen. I am so delighted that you took the step to share your blogs on Activerain. As we already discussed you have a lot to contribute and the AR family has a lot to contribute to you as well.

Make it a great week!

Jun 29, 2014 09:29 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Colleen,

I'm back for your second post which certainly deserves a worthy feature! I'm now a subscriber! You have a lot to contribute to our Active Rain family and you will love the embrace by its members..so much to learn and share..this is a great platform!

Jun 29, 2014 09:53 PM
Diane Beck
Vibrant Interiors - Pittsburgh, PA
Greater Pittsburgh's Award Winning Home Stager

Colleen~  Great advice for everyone in all professions.  Thank you!

Jun 29, 2014 11:20 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Forget the mirrors...many have rigged their own eyes and ears to hear and see selectively

Jun 29, 2014 11:27 PM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Two award winning posts in a row, I am quickly becoming a big fan Colleen!

Jun 30, 2014 12:03 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good advice and insightful. Regarding mirrors... I know their trickery. Mirror Mirror on the wall... Years ago I threatened to open an eatery called "The Rear End" Th epremise was to have a mirror at the Entrance that made a person look plumper and then a mirror at teh Exit that made you look leaner. LOL

Jul 07, 2014 09:04 PM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Colleen~ Another great post. I'm learning to look at Facebook and not so much in the mirror. I'm one of those folks who is generally self-aware. The downside is that I don't always take action to move out of my comfort zone, which may not be the best place to be.

Jul 08, 2014 01:50 PM