5 Must Haves to Scale a Business with Ease
“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution” ~ Uri Levine
If there is one consistent theme I’ve noticed in being in and around businesses for 40 plus years it’s the vast majority of businesses fall in love with their solution and when they do they fail to see changes in the market soon enough to avoid disruption. Back before the technology age, persistence and monopolies were considered strengths because changes happened slowly and innovation was an expensive process that few could afford. Advances in technology changed all that. Disruption has become the new norm. Now anyone can start a business in their garage and take market share from even the largest businesses on the planet. Flexibility, adaptability, and speed have become the most precious commodities.
Companies like Kodak, Blockbuster and Toy’s R Us learned the hard way and not so long ago companies like Apple, General Motors and Microsoft also faltered. Why? Confirmation bias. It’s that voice inside your head that convinces you to try again after a failure. It’s an asset in the early stage of a business, but it becomes a liability when it convinces leadership to keep trying the same strategy too long even though there is evidence to the contrary. See Kodak, Blockbuster and Toy’s R Us.
So, you can’t be complacent. If you are not growing, you’re dying, but innovation for the sake of innovation isn’t the right approach either. What do you do to avoid a similar fate? First, you need to recognize you have a blind spot. There are 3 symptoms I look for:
- Overall declining profit margins
- Inconsistent profit margins across a large number of products, services or customers
- A large concentration of revenue across a few products, services or customers
If that’s your business, here are 5 key elements that vaccinate your organization against putting too many eggs in one basket, persisting too long with strategy and missing out on opportunities.
- Noble Cause
- Competitive Advantage
- Ideal Customer Persona
Together, they should serve as the foundation for all your sales and marketing material as well as a litmus test to make strategic decisions. Your business may not have all 5 and that’s okay, call me and I can help, but even the majority of those that do, make the same mistake. They don’t use the voice of the customer when creating them.
“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” ~ Peter Drucker
Captain Obvious alert, your business is not about you or your solution, but if you’re like me, you love your solution. You could talk about the nuances of your 3 step method or the features of your one of a kind widget for hours without taking a breath. News flash, your customers could care-less. They care-more about how your solution gets rid of something they don’t want or gives them more of something they do want. And the key to selling more stuff and avoiding extinction is to walk in their shoes, use their words and feel their pain. For example:
- Noble Cause ~ It’s also described as your north star and I believe it’s what separates good from great. It’s the problem you must solve. It’s the thing you can’t stand to see happening to other people.
- Vision ~ A verbal description of the better world your solution will create for them. It’s not what you are going to do to them, but what you’re going to do for them.
- Mission ~ Supports the vision and contains a little more “what” than “why”, but avoids too much “how”.
- Competitive advantage ~ Is what your ideal customer would say when you ask them why they picked you over your competitor.
- Ideal customer persona ~ Should sound as if you were interviewing your ideal customer about their business, their problems, and their wants and needs.
For a list of thought-provoking questions to use to create your competitive advantage or ideal customer persona, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to stay ahead of the competition, increase revenue, lower costs and have more time, money and energy start using the voice of your customer. Rethink your Noble Cause, Vision, Mission, Competitive Advantage, and Ideal Customer Persona. Involve everyone in your organization when you do and get out of the building and interview ideal customers. If you do, I promise you’ll have happier customers and employees without having to work harder.