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Redesign: What Will Make Your Clients Really Angry?

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Joyce was one of my “reinvent your business” clients who likes to take things to the edge, fall off the edge, and either soar or splat.

We were discussing all the different aspects of her business model that she could reinvent: her target audience, her product/service offerings, her delivery model, her marketing model, etc.

We kept focusing our thoughts on “What does the client want?”

Hey, it’s a great question — but it was limiting the discussion.

So I asked Joyce, “What could you do that would make your clients really, really angry?” She is a business consultant to medium-sized businesses, and they have certain expectations of her even if she is a solo entrepreneur.

Asking this odd question can generate great ideas.  Here are some of Joyce’s answers about what would make her clients truly angry:

  1. Double our prices
  2. Reduce our quality
  3. Take a longer time to deliver our services
  4. Take a week to answer emails and phone calls
  5. Show up at their office in a clown suit (or with clown-like answers)

By asking this question, Joyce was able to see which pieces of her business model were most important to her customers — and which were not:

  • Nowhere did she mention how she delivered her products and services. In the past, she had always delivered her services one-on-one with the clietn in the client’s office.
  • Nowhere did she mention who delivered her products and services. Joyce had always delivered her services herself. Now she realized that she could hire subcontractors to deliver some of the services, which would allow her to leverage her time and expand her business.

These were two great starting places to consider redesigning in her business model.

Bingo! Asking this outrageous question opened her eyes to places where she could transform her business.

Question For You: If you were to ask yourself this outrageous question, what answers would come up for you? Share your comments here!

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Phases of Your Business Journey

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I’d love to be able to tell you that there are set of linear and finite phases that every small business owner goes through while you’re rethinking and redesigning your business model…

…but if I told you that, it would be a lie.

But there are some well known phases that you might go through, sometimes circling back to one you thought you already finished, and skipping others completely. Here is a short list of some of the signposts you’ll encounter on the road to redesigning your business model:

  • I know/feel something needs to change – You find yourself pausing in the middle of the day (or worse, in the middle of the night) and asking, “Is this the business I want? Is there untapped potential in me that’s striving to get out? What’s next for me?” People report feeling restless or frustrated, knowing deep in their heart and mind that the business needs a shake-up, a new way of being in the world.
  • Getting lost in the not-knowingness – This is one of the toughest phases in business redesign, because you have to be okay with not having the solution. Some spiritual teachers call this not-knowingness “the grace of mystery.” Puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it?
  • Finding clarity on goals – If you spend time tapping into your goals for your business, and for yourself personally, you’ll find that it’s easier in the next phases to explore and choose the right business model for you. Is there a particular problem you need to solve? A particular dream you’d like to achieve? Values you’d like to express into the world?
  • Exploring the possibilities – In this idea-generation phase you explore every aspect of your existing business model, looking for places to add, modify and discard. No idea is sacred and no idea is thrown away. Even the craziest of ideas can be a springboard to a new business model. Creativity and innovative thinking are crucial keys during this phase.
  • Making a road map – This is where you design your new business and marketing model, keeping what still fits from your old model and mixing in the new ideas you’ve generated. This is also where you create your transition plan and map out where and when changes will take place, and what resources you’ll need to make it happen.
  • Taking the journey – Implementing your business model changes can happen in a week or it can be a two-year process, depending on how complex the changes are and how many resources you have at your disposal. This is often a journey through the weeds and can be rough going. Why? Because you have to continue to run your existing business (unless you’re independently wealthy!) while creating your new business at the same time. Managing change can feel like a juggling act, and I’ll talk more about it in future posts.

Where are you on the path to rethinking and redesigning your business? I’d love to hear your story, so join me in the comments below!

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Why Redesign Your Business?

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Did you know your business runs in cycles? The key to a successful business is to begin the process of change, growth and/or innovation before the preceding cycle of success runs out.

Over the years, I’ve had an influx of prospective clients come to me with these exact words: “I want to rethink my business.”  I thought:  Cool! Me, too!

For me, I want to shake things up a bit. Running my business is too easy for me. There’s not a lot of day-to-day challenge and I don’t feel like I’m reaching my full potential. I don’t know what my full potential IS — but I know I’m not there yet. Have you ever felt like that?

A great way to keep growing personally and professionally is to keep rethinking and redesigning your business model without completely wiping away everything you’ve done in the past. Take all your experience and knowledge, plus any new goals and lifestyle changes, and make a plan for your future business.

Redesigning Your Business Model

There are lots of reasons why people redesign their business model. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard recently:

  • One of my clients needs to take her business completely virtual so that she can travel extensively with her husband, who retired early.
  • Another client said he wants to make more money so that he can send his kids to college in a few years.
  • One of my business colleagues wants to expand the services and products he offers to his customer base, to be more “full service” and have multiple streams of income.
  • One of my favorites is a colleague who wants to make her business completely based on passive income by selling educational products about her field of expertise. So not only is she redesigning what she offers her audience but her marketing model as well!
  • And last but not least, one colleague wants to completely redesign herself, sell her existing business, and take everything she knows and loves, creating a whole new career/business for herself.

Do any of these sounds like you? If yes, are there specific reasons why you’re transforming your business or marketing model, or just a gut feeling you have? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Rethinking Your Business
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Redesign Your Marketing Model

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If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably already have a marketing model that is working for you. Or, at least it used to work for you

There are seven different areas in your business where rethinking and reinvention are possible: Marketing is a great area for innovation and change!

Have things changed in your business and marketing?

  1. Your audience isn’t reacting to your marketing techniques the way they used to.
  2. You are bored with your marketing techniques, so you’re not doing them as consistently as you once did, and the quality of your marketing is suffering.
  3. You’ve become complacent because business is going great, and stopped paying attention to “big picture” strategic marketing planning.
  4. Your marketing techniques are stale, outdated.
  5. You’re totally freaked out by the amount of work you have to do, so some things just get put on the back burner, like marketing (and remembering to eat).

Time to shake things up!

Last time I counted, there are over 100 offline and online marketing techniques you can use. There’s one for everyone. Why not try a new marketing technique you haven’t tried yet but have always been curious about?

If you’re feeling the innovation itch, why not combine two techniques into something original and noteworthy?

For instance, could you combine a free, funny bumper sticker giveaway with a contest?

What about combining a free webinar with a SEO using a strong article or blog post, to increase sign-ups and boost your mailing list?

Pick a new technique or combine two! Jazz it up!

Here’s the trick.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do 20 new marketing techniques at once. Choose one, learn all about it, try it out, track your results, and master that technique. Then do it again with the next new one.

Having an annual marketing plan will help. You could schedule a new marketing technique each quarter, based on your goals and what you’re promoting that quarter.

Maybe it’s time to delegate?

One big reason why seasoned business owners don’t do the level of marketing that they should do is that they simply run out of time and energy. Just because you’re the business owner doesn’t mean you have to be the head of each department.

I know, I know: you’ve heard that you should delegate a million times. Hey, just do it! (Do I have to pester you?) Consider finding someone who can implement some (or all) of your marketing techniques for you, so you can focus on your core competencies, the unique gifts you bring to the world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Where do you feel you need to shake up your marketing model?

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Rethinking Your Business
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Deep Thoughts about Your Target Audience

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Scaling, leveraging, redesigning, and transforming your business model means looking at all aspects of it, even those pieces you think are sacrosanct, like your target audience.

I know you have spent vast amounts of time defining your perfect customer — and even more time building relationships with the customers you have.

So when you’re rethinking your business and getting ready to take it to a new level, one place to create instant leverage is to question your target audience and look for new possibilities.

Here are some “what if” questions to ponder, which will open your eyes to new ideas:

  • WHAT IF you could serve those people who also serve your customers? For instance, if you’re a small business consultant, what if you could serve the financial advisors, accountants, virtual assistants, website designers, and human resource companies who serve your same target audience?
  • WHAT IF you could serve a different target audience with the same assets you already have? Pretend for a moment that you didn’t want to offer your individual services anymore, but you didn’t want to throw away all that knowledge and experience either. Could you create a training program to teach people how to become what you are? Then they could serve your original target audience. Imagine you’re a team communication trainer, but you don’t want to offer your workshops to corporations anymore. Could you team other people how to either deliver your workshops, or team them how to run a team communication training company, essentially training the next generation and moving yourself into the “mastery” role.
  • WHAT IF you could narrow your target audience to one from a specific demographic? For instance, let’s say you are a graphic artist and you’ve been working with local companies to design their marketing materials. What if you focused solely on service firms, or solely on manufacturing firms? What if you focused only on businesses which make more than $1 million a year? Or focused only on women-owned businesses? Or focused solely on businesses with a strong social-responsibility stand?
  • WHAT IF you could ponder all the past customers you’ve had and choose the ones that you most enjoyed working with and/or the ones that were most profitable? What do they have in common?

You don’t have to make a major shift to a brand-new target audience (though that is one viable business reinvention strategy). You can re-define who you most enjoy working with and which clients are the most profitable — transforming your business to align more with your goals and values.

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions…what are you thinking about your target audience these days?

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Eeek! Shiny Object Syndrome!

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It seems to be a trend that’s growing: small business owners are getting distracted by too many ideas or the latest fad, going off in a million directions and never completing anything. (Employees suffer from this, too!)

This loss of focus is costing people hundreds of hours a year in lost productivity, lost hours, lost dollars.

It even has a name: SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome. It’s not quite ADHD. It’s more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.

We think of a new idea, we hear of a great new gadget or marketing technique, and ZOOM, we’re off! There’s great energy and excitement in starting something new.

Of course what happens is that that everything always gets started, but nothing ever gets finished. In addition, countless hours and dollars are wasted in pursuit of the new, shiny object without having thought through whether this new item, technique, service or product is “right” for your business. Countless people have started blogs and abandoned them within a year (or less!) because they got tired of writing posts — or worse, no one was reading the posts.

It’s Not Just You

Lest you think that it’s only us small business owners who suffer from it, you’ll be happy to know that it’s rampant in many industries.

Software and tech companies are notorious for following every cool new fad that comes along, without thinking strategically about whether it’s a good fit for their business model.

TV creates shows around SOS, then dumps the show after 6 or 8 episodes.

Big business follows every business development fad that comes out in books or from gurus, only to drop it when the next cool fad arrives.

Tips for Choosing a Focus

I know it’s hard not to get excited about every new idea that comes past you. Some of them are very, very cool. But you are running a business and you must stop and ask yourself:

  • Is this right for my business/career?
  • Do my customers want this, and are they willing to pay for it?
  • Do I have the time, resources, energy, and money to put into this to make it successful?
  • Do I have too many open projects sitting on my desk that need to be finished before I begin something new?
  • Do I have the ability to finish this new project, and implement it, and maintain it?
  • What has to drop off my radar in order for me to start something new?

There’s nothing wrong with loving innovation and reinvention. Just make sure you don’t lose focus on what’s most important for you, your business and your customers.

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Rethinking Your Business
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