There are so many things involved in running a business, but when it comes to winning in business, only one thing
matters – RESULTS.
Winning in the competitive world of business requires more from you than just efforts; it requires an unwavering ability to produce consistent results. All your strategy, marketing and activity must ultimately lead to some results or else, there’s going to be a big problem.
When it comes to competition, nothing differentiates better than results. All your marketing campaign, strategic planning and efficient activities will not compensate for a lack of result. Results are what you can point to, results are measurable, and results silence every doubt in the customer’s mind.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Action speaks louder than words.” Well here’s the business translation of that saying; “Results speaks louder than promises”.
Meaning, at the end of your promises and after expending all efforts, what matters most is the results achieved. Nobody cares about your efforts, nobody is interested in all your stories, all they want to see and care to know is what you’ve done over the years. In other words, what are the outcomes of all your efforts and how many of your promises have you successfully kept?
To remain in business and win in its highly competitive terrain, you’ve got to keep on getting results.
This unusual article has been specially designed to show you how. Read on …
An unusual challenge
In April this year, 2011, precisely the week of the Easter celebration, Newchild, the I.T. Company I co-founded got a call to attend a meeting where together with some other I.T. companies would compete for a website re-design deal of a big business.
This was our first time of hearing about this business; in fact our name was enlisted as one of the companies to contact due to a referral from one of our customers who got a word about the deal. We got the clue that it was going to be an unusual project judging from the part of town they were located –Lekki Peninsula.
The instruction was very simple; come with your company profile and nothing more. This was an obvious reverse from the norm which was supposed to be come with your proposal and be ready for a presentation.
The meeting was stated for Wednesday and we got the call on Monday. Easter holiday was starting on Friday of that same week, through the weekend till Monday and there was another holiday on Tuesday for the gubernatorial elections in my country.
We were the first to arrive at their office which was located at the tail of Lagos, very close to the Atlantic. We didn’t have a car, so we had to wake up early in order to meet up the time. Some other two companies joined us much later and the meeting commenced.
They are a multinational company formed by the joint-venture between the Chinese, Lagos State government, and some Nigerian Investors. They are developing 3000 hectares of land out of the 16,500 hectares of land set aside for economic development as a Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria. This obviously meant they were much bigger than we had thought and this was going to be a big break for us.
The following questions were generally put across to the 3 companies represented in the order we arrived;
- “Who are you and where is your company profile so we can know more about you?”
- “How long have you been in business?”
- “What is your staff strength?”
After we all answered, it turned out that our company was the youngest of the three, only two of us presented our company profiles and ours had a better packaging.
They had a poorly designed website which they weren’t very pleased with. The purpose of the website was to attract foreign investors globally to invest in the diverse industries of the Free Zone. They had initially given the website design to several other companies that had promised much but delivered less and so they didn’t want to go by that approach again.
This time, they wanted to twist the approach by asking us to come up with a demo or beta design of their website and the company with the best design gets the deal. We had only one week to deliver this demo site, which meant we had only one working day to ourselves since the Easter and election holidays were coming up.
The company with the most preferred demo design will not only get the contract, but will also be given an award. The game was on!
An Unusual Solution
We couldn’t possibly come up with a winning demo design in just one day, so it meant no holiday for us. To meet the deadline, we had to work both night and day, through the holiday, weekend and even after the election.
In the end, we were a day short. Instead of submitting the demo design on the given day [Wednesday], we sent in ours on Thursday. We thought we had lost our chance.
But guess what?
We were the only company that met the target. In fact, the following day after the meeting, two other companies joined in the bid for the deal making a total of 5 companies competing for the deal. Out of 5 companies, our demo design came in first!
But this is not the highlight of this story, there’s more.
Out of the 5 companies, only two others were able to come up with a demo design of the site and this was sent in two more weeks after the initial deadline had expired. The other two companies till now haven’t sent in anything, they probably weren’t up to the task. So they had 3 demo designs to choose from.
Our design was eventually chosen as their most preferred after one month and we emerged as winners!
As I write this, we are concluding the final phases of the project and will soon upload the site officially. Once it is uploaded, you can view it from our latest project portfolio on our website.
Needless to say, the negotiation was stiff. From an original quotation of a little above 1 million naira, we eventually settled for a little less than half a million naira after considering other non-financial benefits such as recurring maintenance, more referrals and of course, bragging rights!
The Unusual Lessons Learnt
- Size is irrelevant
- Differentiate or die!
- Know your stuff well
- Prepare, Perfect, Persist
Size is irrelevant
Results have nothing to do with size. Big is not always better and greatness is not measured by size!
The first take away from this story is this; don’t be intimidated by your size or the size of any other company for that matter. When it comes to winning and delivering results in business, size should be the last thing you should be worrying about.
Winning and delivering results is more about attitude [insight] than about magnitude [size]. You can be a small company up against other big companies, this shouldn’t intimidate you, rather you should be excited because you can work twice as fast as they ever can as a result of your being small.
We didn’t have a car, we didn’t have their staff size, and we weren’t as long in business as they were, yet we beat them to it. We knew we were going to win right from the beginning, because we believed in ourselves and focused on giving our best. We weren’t in anyway frightened or worried who we were going to compete against, we just kept our eyes on the mark. This matters more than size when it comes to winning and delivering results.
What you must bear in mind is this; it is the result that counts not the size of the team. It is the results that count not the number of years in business. It is the results that count not the size of the car they drive. It is the results that count not the location of their company. The result is what you would be judged against and this depends more on what you got on your inside than what is on your outside.
Differentiate or Die!
Results are not cheap and you shouldn’t expect them to be. From the onset, we didn’t set out as an I.T. company to follow the crowd; we set out to lead them.
Our web designs are not only professional, they are unusual. We strive to make an impression on the client by delivering the extra-ordinary. In a very simple term, the difference is always clear. Our work always stands out when compared with that of others.
So the lesson here is this, creating results begins with being unique. You’ve got to differentiate your market offering from that of the competition even if it means making little profit. On the long run, just in our case, being differentiated will hit you a big break!
Know your stuff well
To deliver results, you need to be well informed. Again, I say to you, results don’t come cheap. They will require so much from in terms of skill and creativity. Knowledge is the secret formula for creating consistent results.
Result is about letting your work speak for itself. To achieve this, you’ve got to know your work better than anyone else. When you know better, you will naturally do better and ultimately achieve better results.
Our team is complete; we have different people responsible for different things when it comes to web design. I lead the team creatively through my conceptual skills as a person and bring my content creation abilities to full bare making sure the right words and phrases are in the right places. We have a graphics person that caters for every image that is to be used and then there is the web programmer and designer himself who ensures the right layout is crafted creatively.
We are not a one man army and we are not a battalion either, we are just a guerilla unit. We are a highly specialized team with each person operating from their core area of strengths and expertise. We know our stuff and allow ourselves enough autonomy to unleash our creativity.
Prepare, Perfect, Persist
This is the ultimate price of results – consistent preparation to perfection. Results don’t come cheap because they take time to achieve!
Long before we got the call, we as a team have been trying our hands on various web design projects on our own. I mean we have been giving ourselves different web design challenges to test our skills and creativity.
We have several company initiated websites that require an unusual level of skill and creativity. We didn’t create websites just when clients need them; we create some for ourselves too.
This is a classical way of being prepared long before the opportunity manifests. You’ve got to keep persisting and improving on whatever it is you do. Don’t fold your arms waiting for the next contract, create one for yourself.
This is especially true for those of us in the creative business; our job is to create always. Whether it is for you or the customer is immaterial, just keep on creating!
Over to you
What other lessons did you learn from this unusual article?
How do you deliver results in your business?
What are some of the challenges you face in trying to deliver results?