You hear the crap all of the time. Why? Because you run the place. Every biting email, phone call or walk-in eventually makes it’s way to you. Yet, you can not be all things to all people. So please, do not try.
Remember what makes you great. Think back on the dreams that you had when you began. How were you going to be revolutionary, different, and possibly even extraordinary? That is what your business needs to be about. Make it special. Do remarkable things. But remember, you can not do it all, so you might possibly need to stop trying.
How can you do this?
Eliminate underperforming services. Can a marginally profitable product. Remove a feature of your company that takes up way more time than it should have a right to take.
Zero in on your best ideas and your best opportunities. Find the items that will set you outside the normal expectations. Create beautiful work and services that others will pay a premium to receive or donate to if you are a nonprofit. Dream big. Execute daily. Ignore that complaints that you are not “all things to all people”.
I know this has happened to you, as it has happened to me. You see a tweet, email, or some article highlights a great new tool, service or app for your business. It could be something new for marketing, productivity, accounting, or social media. A pretty logo, a nice splash page, and a killer video. And WOW, only $20 a month, or maybe its $49.99. You get super excited, because, well as the video says, this new tool is going to revolutionize your business.
What I constantly see, is these things launch with great buzz, or even you bought it with great excitement. But in 2 or 3 months, no one is talking about it, and you never use the thing, or maybe you jump ship to the next revolutionary idea.
Have you ever really stopped and asked yourself this question: Is this going to really change MY unique business? Is my life going to be different after using this for 3 months? Or maybe Is this going to have a direct impact in new customer conversions?
We all need to ask ourselves questions like this. I see far to many businesses flocking to the next great app, plugin, SaaS, or whatever, all with the wrong ideas in mind. Keep your customer base in mind, your work flow, and your bottom line.
Indeed there are so many great applications, web tools and resources in the world today. Seriously, I applaud the application, Software as a Service (SaaS) companies and website plugin tool creators. Just keep your head on straight. The true innovators out there dont need these shiny widgets to make their business function with excellence.
A tension exists between who you are, who you want to be and who you perceive you ought to be. No, this isn’t a psychology blog. This is about business and this is a real tension in business. It’s also a tension in marketing. A company run by under normal operating conditions goes through a checklist of sorts making sure that they:
_ list with yellow pages
_ pay for ads in local papers
_ get a website
_ design website with areas & content found on demonstrated on competitors websites
_ open a twitter account (although you don’t know what you will do with it)
_ pay for 3 months of google ads (this money goes into outer-web–space very fast)
_ open Facebook account
_ create Facebook page
_ harass friends and family and all of their friends on Facebook
Great businesses design who they are going to be. They know the ‘playbook’ for business as usual, but they decide intentionally to take their own paths. It doesn’t mean that they refuse to be on the web, but what it does mean is that they are purposefully creating their unique presence on the web. It also means that they are creating their unique business culture as well as striving for excellence in their planned and purposeful way.
There are a lot of things that we never try for lack of courage, extra finances or motivation. However, we all know that some of the best discoveries are made through relentless trials and successive errors. Our businesses and organizations are very much our labs for experimentation. Don’t let our slick websites fool you… we are still learning a lot and trying a lot. We have so much more to learn even though there are a few things we do very well.
But how about you? What are you experimenting with? What new idea do you need to just try? What service have you been afraid to implement or eliminate?
Keep experimenting. Keep trying. Keep enjoying what you have begun.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
My youngest boy evidently has a favorite ‘adult’ restaurant that he asked to go to several times while we were on vacation. So we headed out to it one afternoon for their specialty shakes and reasonably good americana fair. The service in this establishment was mediocre at best during a ‘less than busy’ period of the day. As usually happens, my kids focused on the the good things, while I remained puzzled by the items in this operation that could be easily improved upon with a little attention and no more money spent. We were no less than two-thirds of the way through with out meal when our waitress magically appeared with the check in hand. Without concern for our next needs or whether we would like to order more or whether we were satisfied she laid the check down on the table with this stellar quote:
I am going to go ahead and drop your bill of now and get it out my way.
End of quote… end of service. I could hardly believe it. For the 3 of us I was going to be on the hook for about $35 and this is how is was being ‘served’. It was a jolting reminder to me…
Whatever price your customer is paying for your product, they anticipate that level of service or more.
Up economy or down, it is not that complicated to give your customers top level quality service. It takes no more money to serve them with a great attitude. The only thing that can come from your determination to be personable in your delivery is a more loyal and appreciative customer. Obviously, you can figure out what might happened if the converse is true of you or your employees.
People reference your work whether you think so or not.
I wonder if anything is worse than stating the obvious. Like when watching a sporting event live, and the guy next to you has to constantly scream “Shoot the puck (or ball, or whatever sport)!!”
So somehow this guy clearly knows more about when and how to make the shot, than the guy on the ice (or court, or field)? I doubt it.
Its easy to sit back from a distance out of the game, in the stands, and think that if you want more sales, go out and get them. Want to make more money, get more projects. Duh.
Get in the game, Yes the generic goal may be to make sales happen, but take the calculated shot with good timing. That guy in the stands will yell at you one way or the other. Just dont be that guy.
This is NOT one more post about the tough times… you can get that negative talk anywhere. We all need some inspiration, motivation and ideas to move forward and upward in our pursuits. —- One of the most foundational contributions to my personal leadership & business development was being pressed by a friend to read “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. A key principle from the reading,
“work on your business, not in your business”.
Translation: On good days most of us small business owners slave away trying to keep up with all the items that are going on. We run form one urgent item to another following the squeaky wheel axiom. On bad days, we moan, groan, have lunch with buddies and hope that our yellow page investment will finally pay off with the phone ringing in new work any minute.
Every day that you are in business that you don’t invest in working on the development of your business or organization is a wasted day. QUIT wasting your days! Take at last 30-60 minutes every day to look ahead into areas where you need to do something better, different, more efficient, etc. Build your business, don’t just work in it.
Start by picking up a copy of this particular book and reading — it will inspire you to grow!
Do the hard times really bring out the best in businesses and non-profits?
I believe so.
One recent commentary on our current economy strongly suggested that during lean economic times it is natural for people to trend towards ‘BEST’ even when on a whole we are spending less. Think about it, even the BEST companies are cutting their prices right now. It isn’t the BEST companies that are going under, but mostly the sub-par and also the marginal ones. The BEST out there are competing like never before and are positioning themselves to survive & SUCCEED during these times. Some of the BEST products are now in reach of purchase where they weren’t before. Heady organizations are putting their dollars into their BEST core products or contributions.
Below is a link with a short interview from Seth Godin as it relates to positioning your company or organization.
Here are some additional thoughts:
- what can we do to REFINE our organization?
- how do we UNIQUELY set ourselves apart from our competition?
- in which areas are we STRONGER than everyone else?
- do we care more about being known or more about being on target and succeeding?
- which of our people make the most irreplaceable contributions?
Godin Interview : http://mashable.com/2009/02/04/seth-godin-advice-for-startups/