Every dying business sends out certain warning signs before the eventual collapse. For the observant entrepreneur, this disaster is avoided by taking certain strategic measures. But for the non-observing entrepreneur, this disaster seems to creep in suddenly.
The death of a business is not as sudden as many tend to assume. Just as there is no such thing as overnight business growth, there is no such thing as overnight business collapse.
Accidents seldom kill businesses like it does kill humans.
Sicknesses seldom kill businesses like it does kill humans.
So what kills businesses then?
Businesses Die as a Result of these 3 Deadly Factors;
- Negligence: I am writing this unusual article to help you fight against this number one deadly factor that kills most businesses –negligence!
Negligence is simply not paying adequate attention to your business. Negligence is about being too busy ‘working in’ your business that you forget the importance of ‘working on’ it.
Later on in this unusual article, I will be pointing out 7 warning signs of a dying business. Knowing them will help you to be less negligent.
- Inexperience: This is the second factor killing most businesses and to some extent, this also has its root in negligence.
How do I mean?
Inexperience is not an excuse for failure. It is true that the best teacher is experience. But it doesn’t always have to be your own experience. Leverage on the experience and expertise of others ahead of you in different areas of your business. That’s why smart entrepreneurs always surround themselves with mentors, consultants, coaches and other professionals generally smarter than them on specific areas of their business.
You cure inexperience with borrowed experience. It doesn’t have to be your own experience!
- Greed: this factor is self explanatory. Any attempt to bite more than is ethically allowed will kill your business faster than the first two deadly factors.
Your business will die if you give customers less value than they pay for – greed.
Your business will die if you give your employees less than they contribute – greed.
Your business will die if you think your own needs is far more important than the needs of others –greed.
You cure greed by following the golden rule of business.
Those are the 3 deadly factors that can kill your business. Let’s now identify the 7 warning signs that inform you of their presence. In other words, the 7 warning signs of a dying business are the different ways Negligence, Inexperience and Greed manifest their selves in your business. They represent the symptoms of the 3 deadly factors that can kill your business.
The 7 Warning Signs Of A Dying Business
What are the obvious symptoms of a failing business?
1. LOW SALES
This is the most obvious sign of a dying business. Why? Because sales is the lifeblood of every business. Without sales, there is no cash flow and without cash flow, there is no business continuity.
Sales is to a business what blood is to we humans.
So when you begin to notice a period of low sales in your business, be on the alert, your business may be dying!
In this unusual article; what to do when business is slow, I described the first step you need to take in managing a low sales period.
2. NO INNOVATION – Nothing New
Variety they say is the spice of life. Meaning, people love new things. Your business will always be at the front of your customer’s mind if you regularly innovate –come up with new things.
So here’s the big question; when was the last time your business introduced something new [product/service] into the market?
To remain in business, you can’t afford to rely on past glory alone. You’ve got to keep reinventing yourself through innovation.
IBM held on to their past glory as the industry leader of mainframe computers and watched Microsoft steal away the global market of desktop computers through their user friendly Windows Operating Systems.
When there’s nothing new about your business, you bore existing customers and discourage potential new ones.
3. NO DIFFERENTIATION – Nothing Unique
Be careful of making the mistake that innovation is the same thing as differentiation. I listed these two warning signs after each other to make this clarification.
New and unique are never the same.
New ≠ Unique.
New = latest in town
Unique = different from others
What is differentiation?
When you list out all the characteristics of your business, product or service and compare it with that of others in your industry; differentiation is those attributes of your business, product or service that isn’t on any of your competitor’s list of attributes.
Differentiation is about having a competitive edge above your industry peers.
Differentiation is about focusing on a specific point of uniqueness separate from your industry peers.
Businesses that last stand the test of time because they are different from others in the same industry. Customers treat you like others when there’s nothing unique about you.
So here’s the big question; what’s unique about your business in comparison to your industry peers?
4. NO POSITIVE WORD OF MOUTH – referrals and testimonials
Are people talking about your business, product or service? If yes, what are they saying? If no, then you are as good as dead. Period.
When customers no longer talk about your business, then you don’t matter. Businesses that matter get talked about by their customers.
How do I know?
By the number of referrals and testimonials such businesses get.
So here’s the big question; how many referrals and testimonials has your business generated this year?
If your customers aren’t talking about you to their family and friends, watch out. They aren’t talking because you are not WORTH talking about.
To make them talk, give them something worth talking about –innovate, differentiate, blow their mind!
5. LOW EMPLOYEE MORALE
Until now, the four warning signs discussed above focus mainly on your business’ relationship with your customers. That is; what customers expect from your business and what you expect from them. Now it’s time to shift the focus to the people who make the products/services you sell to customers –your employees!
How are they? How is your relationship with them?
They are the first customers of every business. After your purpose, they come next. They greatly determine the success of your business, because the products/services you offer for sale in the market come from their collective efforts.
So here’s the big question; how well are you paying attention to your people? How well are you taking care of them? Are they working with a clear unity of purpose? Are they at their best possible self ever? Are they working as one – a team?
A business with high employee morale is a healthy business. So to know how well your business is doing, check how well your people are doing.
6. POOR CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
If sales is the lifeblood of a business, it is so because of cash flow. After sales, the next financial indicator of a healthy business is how well they manage their cash flow.
Oftentimes a Profit & Loss (P&L) statement may show that a company is profitable, yet the company is struggling to survive.
The answer lies in their cash flow.
Successful small businesses become successful large businesses when they understand that cash is king and actually focus their business on generating, and preserving, cash.
What is Cash Flow?
Cash flow refers to the inflow and outflow of cash within a business. That is; the flow of money – where is it coming in from [account receivables] and where is it going out from [account payables]?
Managing your cash flow properly is ensuring you never run out of the financial resources necessary to sustain your business. A business that runs out of cash is a dead business!
So here’s the big question; how smooth is the flow of cash in and out of your business?
To accurately answer that question, below are two key indicators of poor cash flow management, both must be avoided to keep your business healthy financially.
- Overstocking Goods
Having stock that you cannot shift or sell quickly is a serious waste of funds and points towards poor cash flow management. Cash is tied up in inventory, the less stock the better. So only order what you can sell: you can always order more as demand increases.
- Poor Ordering and Invoicing Practices
Do you meticulously keep detailed invoices and accounts, outlining who has bought what, when they bought it, how much they owe and whether or not they have paid yet? If the answer is no then this must be fixed quickly.
7. NO LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Innovate or die.
Differentiate or die.
Change and grow or die.
Learning and development is the secret of competitiveness in business. To remain relevant in the market, you need to keep changing and keep growing. The moment you stop learning, you start dying. This is as true for individuals as well as businesses.
Your capacity to innovate is dependent on how much you learn and develop.
Your capacity to differentiate is dependent on how much you learn and develop.
So to do more, learn more.
To be more, learn more.
To have more, learn more!
From experience, yours or that of others, what other warning signs of a dying business can you add besides the 7 mentioned above?
Which of these 7 warning signs are you currently experiencing in your business and how do you intend to strategically correct it?
Speak your mind; share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.
Do you know why some businesses achieve more than their counterparts? Do you know why no two businesses are ever
the same? Do you know why certain businesses behave in a certain way that sets them apart from others?
The secret is found in their DNA.
In biology, the DNA which stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid contains the genetic instructions for every living organism. The DNA determines what kind of life is the organism being formed to live. In essence, the DNA contains the programming language [source code] for the organism. Suppose organisms were some hardware, the DNA would be the software. Meaning, it is what basically determines how the hardware functions. Without a DNA, organisms are bound to malfunction.
What Is The DNA Of Your Business?
Your business is also an organism and needs a DNA to efficiently and effectively function. The DNA of a business determines what kind of a company it will be, the basis of its operations and its outcomes. It gives the broad picture of what the business will look like, what will guide its actions and what type of goals it will seek to achieve. They represent the soul of the business, what enables the company to function as a unique living entity.
All entrepreneurs create businesses.
So what makes the difference?
A set of unique attributes that clearly draws the line between ordinary entrepreneurs and their extra-ordinary counterparts. Don’t be alarmed by this, in the business world, there exists two kinds of entrepreneurs; those who do business as usual and those who don’t. Obviously, they will end up creating only two kinds of businesses.
For those who do business as usual, I refer to them as average or ordinary entrepreneurs and for those who do business NOT as usual; I refer to them as unusual or extra-ordinary entrepreneurs. The average entrepreneurs don’t really deserve much explanation, their title says it all – they are just average.
Meaning, at most, they are only capable of creating “good” businesses, but rarely ever create “great” businesses like the unusual entrepreneurs do. To know the difference between a good business and a great business, download the free ebook: the entrepreneur’s journey.
An unusual breed of entrepreneurs
Ever wondered what separates great entrepreneurs from mediocre ones? Ever wondered what makes entrepreneurs like Richard Branson of Virgin, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Tony Tsei of Zappos and the legendary Steve Jobs of Apple extra-ordinary?
It has been my central focus for the past 6 years researching and studying the lives and businesses of these unusual kinds. It’s been my goal to uncover those set of qualities that distinguishes them amongst others.
As a matter of fact, I created this site [naijapreneur] to chronicle and share freely with the world my findings on how these seemingly ordinary men and women create and build truly extra-ordinary businesses from scratch.
In this unusual article, I want to share as always some of my most recent findings about what it takes to become an unusual entrepreneur.
The 3-way approach
The making of an unusual entrepreneur is dependent on 3 critical factors;
- Character – the will to succeed
- Competence – the will to prepare
- Results – the will to execute
An unusual entrepreneur is a person of character. An unusual entrepreneur is not your everyday individual. An unusual entrepreneur is exactly the title they bear – unusual. Perhaps one of the best descriptions ever given about an unusual entrepreneur was given by one himself, Steve Jobs;
“Here’s to the crazy one, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round peg in the square holes …because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do!”
This is where it all begins –within. Every endeavour whether in life or in business begins first within and then without. The first order of things to be changed is you, the individual. Character is about your person; what stuff are you made up of? What do you represent? What makes you thick? What drives you? What guides you?
Character is about your will to succeed. A person can only go as far as his/her character allows. The journey within outweighs the one outside; no man can rise above the limits of his own character. In other words, your character determines your success either in life as well as in business. Who you are ultimately defines what you achieve –your success or failure. Defining character is the first step to greatness.
What is character?
Character means ‘wholeness’. It is the summation of several qualities, behaviours and thoughts that reveals the totality of a person. Character is not only a question of what a person does [action] it also includes both how you do [attitude] and why you do [thought].
Character is the whole of a person; an integration of “what you do” [actions, behaviours]; “how you do” [disposition, attitude]; and “why you do” [intention, thought]. It’s the summation of these three parts that makes up the whole of a person’s character.
How is Character formed?
Why do you think the way you do? Values. Why do you behave the way you do? Values. Values are a set of deeply held beliefs, principles, qualities, standards or virtues that inspire and guides how we do (attitude) and why we do (thoughts). Values are at the core of our attitudes, thoughts and dispositions; the combination of what we believe in and how we behave.
Habits are what you do (actions) as a result of what you believe and have accepted as true. Habits are your values in action. Your values are manifested through your habits. Your values are the source of your habits. If you have the wrong values, you will exhibit the wrong habits.
Here are some highly effective habits of unusual entrepreneurs;
Character focused on the internal requirements of an unusual entrepreneur; the personal development phase. That is, who they need to become on the inside in order to lead on the outside. Competence on the other hand, is where the unusual entrepreneur develops the basic business skills needed for exceptional performance.
Competence is the business development phase of an unusual entrepreneur. It explores the external requirements of entrepreneurship. That is, what you need to know technically in order to perform externally. If character is the personal side of business [personal development] competence is the technical side of business.
Character is how the entrepreneur develops the capacity to succeed. While competence enables the entrepreneur prepare for success by developing the required skills for succeeding in business. However important character is, without competence which is the actual knowledge and skill needed to start, run and grow a business successfully, an entrepreneur will only be a dreamer.
What is competence?
Competence is the ability and skill required to carry out a particular function, activity, task or set of duties. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to prepare by gathering the skill set necessary for the unusual journey embarked on.
The competencies required by an entrepreneur to exceptionally fulfill the responsibilities of his/her position are of two categories; leadership and management. Starting a business requires entrepreneurial competence, working with people requires leadership competence and growing a business requires managerial competence. An unusual entrepreneur relies on both competencies to effectively and efficiently function in business.
Competence = leadership skills + management skills
I know you are the owner of your business no doubt, but you also need to understand this fact; building a successful business takes the collective efforts of others and not just the effort of only you the owner. It is not a one man show.
Before you chose to become a business owner, success was very much all about you and the result of your personal efforts, but now that you’re building your own business; success is all about others and the result of their collective efforts.
The success or failure of an organization depends largely on how well the entrepreneur performs as a leader. As an unusual entrepreneur, your role as a leader demands that you shift your focus from yourself and begin to focus more on others and what you can collectively achieve as a team.
The focus and function of the unusual entrepreneur’s role as a leader stems from his character as an individual. Without sound character the entrepreneur cannot function exceptionally as a leader. Leadership is about inspiring and motivating people towards the fulfillment of a predetermined goal, aim or objective; this is often referred to as VISION.
The combination of character mixed with vision is what makes an ordinary person become an extra-ordinary leader. You cannot be in front if you don’t have a firm idea of where you’re going [vision] and you cannot inspire others to follow if you haven’t first led yourself [character].
Character makes you a leader, but you need vision to lead others. Inspiring them to fulfill that vision is the job of a leader and the essence of leadership.
Every business has a way of operating that makes it completely different from any other business in the world. Ever wondered how some companies keep attracting and retaining high performing workers while others struggle to keep just a handful?
Have you ever walked into some business premises and without being told, you could feel a sense of intense energy in the air? How come some workers find fulfillment at their place of work and others don’t? How is it that some businesses in the same industries do better than others?
The answer to all these and so many more is management. As individuals are unique such that there are never any two people one hundred percent alike, the same is true of businesses regardless of whether they produce similar products or serve similar markets.
What makes the difference? Management.
After all is said and done, the day-to-day activities of a business purely rest on the competence of management. It’s possible for a business to have a great leader and a great product, but without great management practices in place, the business cannot exist for long.
Business is like a puzzle, the entrepreneur paints the whole picture but management is the one who begins to arrange them one after the other, putting each piece in its rightful place. Management puts the whole pieces together and brings everything into proper perspective by creating an organization.
Management takes everything the business is about and weaves it into one big and integrated whole known as organization. The creation of an organization is management’s core task. The fact that people congregate everyday to work in a particular business doesn’t necessarily make it an organization.
Management through the creation of an organization is the binding force that unites all the resources of a business; human, financial, material etc. together towards the achievement of a corporate end. To make a business into an organization is what management stands for. This is the essence of the unusual entrepreneur’s competence as a manager.
Result is the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to stimulate progress in the organization by creating an environment where change can thrive. He/she must inspire the whole organization to keep asking and answering this critical question; “what is our business and how well are we doing?”
Asking this question draws the entire organization back to the fundamental purpose of a business enterprise; to create customers by offering innovative products/services that meets their needs and solves their problems better. Making the organization capable of creating consistent change through innovation is the result the unusual entrepreneur must pursue. How is he/she able to achieve this? What are the tools for creating change?
Creation is the essence of entrepreneurship. The unusual entrepreneur is nothing without creation. He/she must be involved in a never ending process of creation by forming a creative habit. It is only through the habit of creating that the entrepreneur masters the art of creation.
I wouldn’t dwell much on this because there’s an unusual article that covers this subject of creativity, you can read it here –harnessing creativity for business success.
Creativity is about the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to see opportunities and generate ideas; risk is about the willingness to explore and exploit them. It’s one thing to be able to imagine innovation; it’s another thing to actually deliver it. The difference is risk.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to consistently invest time, effort and resources in the pursuit of change [ideas and opportunities]. Besides seeing opportunities, the entrepreneur must be willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue them.
Risk is the sacrifice the entrepreneur is prepared to pay in order to create change. The entrepreneur must never be afraid of sacrificing immediate gains for the pursuit of better ways of doing things and satisfying the customer.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to step out of his/her comfort zone in pursuit of change even though the outcome is not certain and unknown. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to experiment with the idea generated and opportunity discovered. The entrepreneur must be willing to confront every uncertainty, fear and doubt and commit all that he/she is and has in pursuit of ideas and opportunities.
Over to you
Which of these qualities do you currently posses and which are you working on presently?
How have any of these qualities helped your entrepreneurial development?
What other defining qualities do unusual entrepreneurs possess besides those mentioned in the article?
For instance, everyone instinctively knows that long lasting success in any sphere of life is unattainable without handwork. In essence, hard work becomes an essential element in the composition of factors necessary for achieving success.
In the same way, there are certain “must have” pillars that are crucial to the success of every business. This is a matter of fact. When these fundamental pillars are lacking in any business, success is often unattainable. Identifying and applying them to your business, is what this unusual article is all about.
The 5 Essential Pillars Of Business For Guaranteed Success
If you are going into business and your sincere desire is success, here are the 5 pillars you need to focus on consistently;
Every business started with the conception of an idea [solution] or the recognition of a need [problem].This is the very first pillar of a business and the source of its purpose.
Businesses that succeed don’t exist for nothing, they exist for a reason. Purpose is your reason for existing as a business and that reason must be clearly defined.
The moment you venture into the world of business without a clear-cut reason, you‘ve already chosen to fail from the beginning. Also, the moment you venture into the world of business with a wrong reason, you’ve equally chosen to fail from the beginning.
The challenge is simple, what is the right reason for venturing into business if one is to succeed?
The only right reason for venturing into business if success is what you seek is to find a purpose greater than just making money.
I am used to saying this and won’t stop saying it; successful businesses are built on purpose not profit.
Why is this so?
BECAUSE PURPOSE IS PROFITABLE
Purpose in a simple term is the impact you are in business to make.
Purpose is the change you started a business to create.
Purpose is the difference you are in business to make.
Purpose is the problem you are in business to solve.
Purpose is the big picture behind your business’ existence.
Purpose is the value you created a business to add into people lives.
Purpose is the essence of your business’ existence.
The Essence Of A Thing Is The Fundamental Reason Why It Exists!
The essence of medicine is healing.
The essence of education is learning.
The essence of leadership is empowerment.
The essence of thinking is problem solving.
The essence of working is achieving results.
And the essence of business is customer satisfaction.
Meaning, until a customer is satisfied, a business is not fit to exist.
To satisfy a customer is the fundamental purpose why a business should exist. The moment a business fails to satisfy a customer, the business must stop to exist.
Your purpose for being in business therefore, is to satisfy customers by meeting their needs and solving their problems better than anyone else.
Since this is so, the big question then is this;
“What must a business do to satisfy customers?”
By creating unique and useful products/services that meet their needs and solves their problems.
In other words, for your guaranteed success in business, you must have a purpose that is completely focused on satisfying the customers by creating unique and useful products or services that meet their needs and solves their problems.
To find this purpose [reason for being] you must begin to think less about yourself, your needs and your problems and more about the customers. When they are satisfied, you are satisfied. Why? Because successful businesses exist for customer’s sake and not for the owner’s sake!
Having a reason for being [purpose] is only the beginning of building a successful business. A successful business begins with a compelling purpose that surpasses the effort of any one person, hence the need to recruit the help of others.
People are your greatest asset in business; they are the means through which purpose is achieved. Without people, your business no matter how big its purpose, is only a dream. It takes people to fulfill purpose.
However, you need purpose to be able to attract to the right people to work in your business. Successful businesses pay keen attention to the selection process of employees in order to shift out the wrong people from working in their company. One way of doing this is by examining if their values align with the purpose of the business.
Here are 6 characteristics of the right kind of people to put into key seats in your organization. This was extracted from management guru, Jim Collins’ latest book “How the Mighty fall” –a must read for every CEO!
6 characteristics of the ‘right kind of people’ to work with in business
1) THE RIGHT PEOPLE FIT WITH THE COMPANY’S CORE VALUES:
great companies build cult-like cultures, where those who do not share the institution’s values find themselves surrounded by antibodies and ejected like a virus. People often ask, “How do we get people to share our core values?” The answer: you don’t. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang on to them!
2) THE RIGHT PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO BE TIGHTLY MANAGED:
the moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake. If you have the right people, you don’t need to spend a lot of time “motivating” or “managing” them. They’ll be productively neurotic, self-motivated and self-disciplined, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it’s simply part of their DNA.
3) THE RIGHT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE “JOBS”; THEY HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES:
they grasp the difference between their task list and their true responsibilities. The right people can complete the statement, “I am the one person ultimately responsible for ….”
4) THE RIGHT PEOPLE FULFILL THEIR COMMITMENTS:
in a culture of discipline, people view commitments as sacred – they do what they say, without complaint. Equally, this means that they take great care in saying what they will do, careful never to over commit or to promise what they cannot deliver.
5) THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ITS WORK:
nothing great happens without passion, and the right people display remarkable intensity.
6) THE RIGHT PEOPLE DISPLAY “WINDOW AND MIRROR” MATURITY:
when things go well, the right people point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves; they shine the light on other people who contributed to the success and take little credit themselves. Yet when things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setbacks and failures; they point in the mirror and say, “I’m responsible.”
The fusion of purpose and people creates the perfect environment and motivation needed for business success. However, this is not enough.
The perfect environment plus motivation have to be harnessed by creating operational processes in the business.
What are operational processes?
In simple terms, they are how activities, tasks or work is being done in a particular business. In other words, they are systems through which work is executed; a specific way of doing things.
Creating a process of executing work helps to properly align the activities of a company with the central purpose of the business.
Without a structured way of doing things the central purpose of the business may be compromised as people go about their respective duties.
To ensure the purpose is achieved, the activities of people must be organized by creating processes through which work is done.
Examples of operational processes in a business are;
- Human Resources [HR] – a specific way of finding, hiring, training, retaining and firing workers
- Finance – a specific way of sourcing, allocating and managing funds
- Marketing – a specific way of attracting, retaining and growing profitable customers
- Production– a specific way of converting resources into finished goods and service.
Purpose + People = PROCESS
The purpose of a business can only be fulfilled through the creation of a product or in some cases services that are offered to the customers in order to satisfy them [meet their needs and solve their problems].
Without a product, a business is just expending efforts and money and will never be able to fulfill the purpose for which it exists.
When creating a product /services for your business, the key thing to bear in mind all the time is this; uniqueness and usefulness. Meaning, make your products/services as unique as possible and useful enough to your customers.
Don’t always copy other people’s products/services; always be on the lookout for creative ways to originate yours. And even if you do copy, always find creative ways to differentiate yours.
Purpose + People + Process = PRODUCT
The creation of a compelling purpose, the selection of the right people, the establishment of operational processes to organize activities and the invention of products are all efforts expended in a business.
All of these are considered expenses and there’s only one income –profit.
Profit is the reward gotten for fulfilling purpose.
Profit is the result of all your efforts is business.
Profit is not an input you create; profit is an output you get after putting in so much effort.
Profit is the last pillar of business that guarantees success because it is what empowers your business to fulfill more purpose.
The essential thing to bear in mind when it comes to profit is this; never expect profit until you’ve ensured the above four essential pillars have first been created.
Purpose + People + Process + Product = PROFIT
The almighty formula for business success is given below;
BUSINESS SUCCESS = Purpose + People + Process + Product + Profit
Over To You
How have you been putting to use each of these 5 essential pillars of business to use in your company?
Besides these 5 essential pillars of business, what other ones are you currently applying in your own business?
When push comes to shove, the usual businesses die first long before the unusual ones ever do!
Business is an evolutionary process and only the strong will survive. Your entrance into the world of business can be both a blessing and curse depending on how you approach the world of business. The business terrain is a highly competitive one and gives no room for mediocres. A great deal of businesses has failed as a result of not fully taking cognizance of this fact.
More than ever before, the world is crying out for SIGNIFICANT [unusual] businesses. People want businesses that represent something unique and useful; they want companies that are different and making a difference. So if you are going to survive in the business world of today, then doing business as usual is definitely not the road you want to take. You’ve got to be unusual to survive the kind of global competition today’s business world is made up of.
The way business as Usual works
In case you’re wondering what I mean by business as usual, it’s just a simple phrase I use to describe mediocre businesses. They are the businesses that lack a greater purpose for being other than making profits. That is, businesses that are merely existing in their industry but never owning a spot or carving a niche for themselves.
They are the businesses that don’t stir up any reaction when mentioned; they are the businesses that don’t generate positive word of mouth; they are the businesses that don’t represent anything in the minds of their customers or prospects; they are the businesses that don’t come up with anything new; they follow all the rules and always prefer things to remain as they have been.
They are the businesses no one hears or knows about except from the mouth of their salespeople. They exist only as a number in the marketplace they operate in. They are only good for statistical purposes and are not a major force to reckon with. They are the first to die at the event of any market changes. They are the businesses that thrive on survival because they focus on just making a living.
You are dead if you’re just like the rest!
It’s just simple logic, why would anyone remember your business if there’s nothing remarkable about your business? There are a thousand and one competitions out there and people want to know what’s so unusual about your business that makes you different from all others. Especially at a time like this when the whole world is going through a financially constraining phase, people are more prudent with the way they spend. Meaning, getting money out of people’s pocket ain’t going to be as easy as it used to be.
So unless your business is well positioned and well differentiated in the eyes of the prospect and your customers, then making a sale might become increasingly difficult. You have to offer them [the marketplace] a compelling reason why it’s your business they should be dealing with and not the competitions. What would you consistently do to them that would guarantee their loyalty? Answering this question is your only chance of survival in this era of intense business competition.
The danger of doing ‘your own thing’
You see, the business as usual mindset is especially common amongst small businesses because of the general drive to ‘be their own boss’ and ‘do their own thing’. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be your own boss or doing your thing, the real problem with this approach to doing business is the fact that it tends to revolve around you the owner.
And once your business is all about you the owner, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to think of your business in other terms other than a tool for meeting your personal and immediate needs. This is where the whole business as usual mindset begins to set in. When you are the only person driving your business, there’s no way you are going to get past the survival mode – what to eat, where to sleep, what to wear.
Your focus will not be to do the unusual; your focus will be to get by. Since you don’t see beyond your needs being met when you think of your business, you won’t see any need to do unusual things that will make your business distinct. Your business becomes another 9-5 job that puts food on your table. Nothing else will seem to matter so long as there’s money coming in.
In no time, comfortability sets in and maintaining the status quo becomes your only goal. You don’t want to rock the boat; everything is going smoothly, why would you want to do anything silly all in the name of innovation when your customers don’t seem to be complaining about what you’re currently offering? So you plateau and probably think it’s time to put your small business empire on autopilot. But guess what?
When MONEY [survival] is the FOCUS, business is as USUAL
I have generally studied most small businesses that end up winding up when there’s a little shaking in the market they operate in. Most of their businesses weren’t anywhere near exciting at the time they existed. Their customers didn’t consider them special neither did their own employees feel they were part of something greater than themselves. All that seemed to matter to the owners was how much money their business was making them.
They were no jobs they couldn’t do, every client was a client even though the client requests for inferior work. They represented all sorts of disjointed perceptions in the mind of their customers. You simply couldn’t just place a hand on what they were about, except that they were more interested in collecting money than in adding value.
Before long, someone else comes along and takes the bull by the horn in that same industry, by then, it’s already too late for them to make any significant changes. To get past the survival mode, you have to look beyond yourself as the owner of your business and focus on the market you serve. Their needs must always be exceeded and not just being met.
Here’s the thing, if all you ever do is meet a customer’s need, then the customer would only be satisfied. He/she will not be angry since they got what they came for. But that’s no different from what others are offering too. For you to get more from a customer, you’ve got to do more than they asked for.
Here’s what I mean;
To be memorable in the mind of the customer means you’ve got to do something unusual, something they never anticipated. Through your product or service, their expectation and perception about what you are offering must be elevated beyond the general industry standard, that’s the only way you can be remembered.
You want your business to occupy the highest position in their mind when compared to all others in your industry. You want them to associate your business with a particular and unusual idea. You want your business to be the reference point in your industry, that’s what really being unusual means. To occupy an irreplaceable position in the customer and prospect’s mind – to deliver the unexpected. Only when you can take them beyond their wildest expectations will they never stop spreading the message of your unusual business.
It’s not WHAT you do, But HOW you Do it
The trap of doing business as usual is mostly associated with the mindset you bring into your business than on what you actually end up doing in your business. It doesn’t matter the market or industry you are in, it doesn’t matter what it is you sell or provide, what matters is how you see and perceive your business and its role in the environment in which you operate.
If you see your business as an instrument for making a difference, then you wouldn’t do the usual things common amongst other businesses in your industry. But if you see your business as a personal instrument for your own benefit, then you wouldn’t see any need to do things differently with and through your business.
It is often a matter of intention rather than action. It begins with your original intent for going into business. If your intent is to make a difference, you would be different [unusual] and would use your business for something SIGNIFICANT [unique & useful]. In the end, it all boils down to whether you are in business to make a difference or in it to make a living.
The benefits of being UNUSUAL
- You stand out from the crowd
- Standing out from the crowd makes it easier to be spotted
- Being spotted eliminates all others who are present and increases your odds of success
- Being spotted draws attention towards you and then,
- Makes it easier for you to make an impression
- The impression made will always be remembered
- The remembered impression made turns into a FREE advert for your business through word of mouth
- Eventually, word of mouth brings you more customers to also make an impression on!
In the end, it’s only those who are unusual that will be spotted and only those who are spotted will be contacted and those that are contacted will be rewarded with more and more business and enjoy the greatest form of marketing; word of mouth advertising, thus eventually increasing their chances of turning leads into lifetime clients.
How to Do Business NOT as USUAL
It wouldn’t be fair on my part if I talked about and showed you what doing business as usual is without pointing to you or giving you a clue on how to actually do business unusually. That is what this site was created to help you achieve. Here you get to read the most unusual articles about how to build SIGNIFICANT [unusual] businesses in the whole world wide web for free [pardon the play on words, it was intended to make you almost bite your tongue. I hope you did!]. To get them, you are going to have to subscribe by entering your full name and email address below.
This is going to be a very passionate post, so I want to pre-warn you early, stay off now if you don’t want to experience a radical paradigm shift in the way you do business.
Last week Monday I wrote a guest post on bloggingbookshelf about trading comments and that article really caused uproar. While this post is not necessarily a follow up on that, the underlying principle remains the same and that is;
“Why should you settle for GOOD when you can have GREAT?”
Two kinds of business: Good or Great?
Management guru, Jim Colins wrote a classical book on this issue titled; “good to great” where he emphatically stated that the enemy of great is good. I couldn’t agree more. You see, there is absolutely no joy in doing anything unless you are prepared to give it your best shot. Being good is never good enough when there’s nothing holding you back from being great. You are only going to end up shortchanging yourself if all you ever want to be and do is ‘good’. Good businesses are the first who gets swallowed up by the great ones.
All businesses are not created equal. Hence, there two kinds of businesses;