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(Expert Feature) Conformity: The Guaranteed Way To Fail In Business

I heard of an interesting experiment a psychologist named Ruth W. Berenda and her associates carried out with students.

It was designed to show how a person handled group pressure.

The plan was simple.

They brought groups of 10 students into a room for a test. Each group of ten was told to raise their hands when the teacher pointed to the longest line on three separate charts.

the dangers of conforming to other businesses

But here’s the twist: one person in the group didn’t know that nine of the others in the room had been instructed beforehand to vote for the second-longest line.

No matter what instructions they heard, the nine were told NOT to vote for the longest line, but INSTEAD to always vote for the second longest line.

The experiment began with nine students voting for the wrong line.

The one student who didn’t know what was going on would usually glance around, looking confused.

After a few seconds, that student would slip up his hand along with the rest of the group – AND KNOWINGLY VOTE FOR THE WRONG LINE!

The instructions were repeated and a different card was raised.

Time and time again, the one student who didn’t know what was going on would sit there saying a shorter line was longer than the longest line, just because he/she lacked the courage to challenge the group.


If You’re Thinking This Is An Exception To The Rule

And just to be clear, this wasn’t a freak response or one easily influenced kid.

This happened in about 75% of the cases. And it was true whether they tested small children or high-school students.

You might be thinking, “Haha! Dumb kids!!

But can I tell you a secret?

The same exact test was used on adults back in the 50’s by a guy named Solomon Asch.

And guess what happened?

The adults responded in pretty much the same way!

They also gave into the group pressure and conformed with what they majority said.


What This Has To Do With You As A Small Business Owner

Why am I telling you this? Because many of the “common practices” of small business owners in your industry are based on conformity, not necessarily because they are the right or best choices.

That means that in any given industry there is a group of small businesses in the same niche choosing the same things about: price, advertising, marketing, etc. all based on the crowd.

It’s each small business owner conforming to what everyone else is doing.

Now that’s a good thing, if you’re conforming to “best practices“, but don’t assume that you are.

You might all be pointing to the “second longest line” and saying it’s the longest line.


Your Only Option Is A Scary One

The only option you have is to have the courage to go against the crowd in your niche.

Your only option is to raise your hand when no one else does.

It means that you need to be willing to try things that people will respond to and say, “No one does it that way!

But I have some encouragement for you.

The small businesses that succeed in their niche at levels that the others don’t are the ones who are brave enough to resist conformity. 

They resist fitting in.

And they are rewarded for it.

Be wise. Make sure that the things you choose to go against aren’t best-practices.

Make sure the thing you’re dropping is not something everyone is doing because it has proven to be the best.

Be smart. Also test your changes in small, safe ways, so you don’t lose a bunch of money.

Testing in small ways will help you ensure that it works before you invest all your time and effort in it.


The Only Path

But other than those warnings, I want to encourage you to be brave.

Stop conforming. Be willing to go against the crowd.

It’s the only path that leads to the success you’re hoping for. 

No one ever succeeded by being like everyone else and doing what everyone else was doing.

Remember, there are no rewards given for those who are “the best at going along with the crowd”.


P.S. Many small business owners don’t know the “9 Challenges Every Successful Business Overcomes“.

They are ignorant to these challenges that all business face and clueless about how to overcome them. Don’t be like the crowd.

If you would like to be one of the 24 who get to learn about these challenges on one of my upcoming webinars this summer, then go here to learn more.


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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.