Archive for the 'Rethinking Your Business' Category

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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Reinventing 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 80 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?

8 comments for now



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

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

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

Here are some “what if” questions to ponder that might open your eyes to new ideas:

  • WHAT IF you could serve the people who also serve your customers? For instance, I’m a small business consultant and coach. What if I could serve the financial advisors, accountants, virtual assistants, website designers, human resource and training companies who serve my customers?
  • WHAT IF you could serve a different target audience? Let’s just pretend for a moment that you didn’t want to offer one-on-one private 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.
  • 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? 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.

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Creatively Reinvent Your Business Offerings

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I was speaking with a client, helping her get a new vision for the products and services she offers as she reinvents her business.

We had a long discussion about being so closely involved with your own industry that you can’t come up with a new business model because you can’t see past what’s currently being done within your industry.

So we played a little game. It’s called Insight Is In Sight.

We are surrounded by inspiration but don’t pay attention to it because we haven’t framed clearly the question we want answered.

Say that you want more success in your business and you want to be creative in what you offer your customers.

If you frame your question to this: “What are the different ways that business, people, animals and things are successful?” you will open your eyes to a whole new world.

Keeping the above question in mind, imagine your typical day. Pay attention to all the businesses, people and situations you come in contact with throughout one day.

For Instance:

  • What does our lawn have to offer to the local population of deer that they can’t get elsewhere? (And how can my business products and services be this uniquely irresistible, too?)
  • How can my business mirror the way the local grocery store offers its products and services?
  • What is McDonald’s business model and how do they offer their products and services differently than our local fine dining restaurant?
  • How are children (and cats) so efficient at saying what they want — and getting it?
  • What are the real benefits of school buses in our community? How do the parents, children and the school administration view school buses? What business and marketing model does the school bus company use, given that it has three different audiences it’s trying to please?
  • What is the business and marketing model of the city of Las Vegas, and how has it changed over the years?
  • How is it that one species of tree can dominate acres of forest? (How can my product and service offerings dominate my industry?)
  • How (and why) did Southwest Airlines create the next generation of airline travel? (How can I be as innovative in my business offerings?)
  • Are all movie stars’ marketing models and branding the same? Which ones stand out from the crowd, and why?
  • Once I’ve purchased an iPod, why do I feel compelled to fill it with my favorite music and podcasts, over and over again, through iTunes? What business and marketing model (and psychology) is in play here?

See? By paying attention for one day to everything that comes across your path, you can ask questions about how all these things can be related to a new way of offering your products and services.

Warning: Once you see the world in this way, you may never be able to have a normal life again. 🙂

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Stop Copying Everyone Else’s Business Model!

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When I looked at my business transformations over the past five years, I quickly came to one daring insight: when I tried to copy other people’s business model, I got mediocre results. When I stepped outside of my own comfort zone (as well as what my industry says businesses “should” look like) and created my own business model, business soared!

Tom Volkar says, “Herd mentality works best for the lead bull. If you base your decisions on what others are doing then at best you’ll create a poor imitation of what has worked well for them.”

Transform Your Business by Zigging

You’ve got to be willing to zig when everyone else in your industry zags. What does this mean in practical terms?

  • If everyone in your industry sells their service by the hour, sell your service in a monthly package.
  • If everyone in your industry has a membership site, create a pay-per-use system instead.
  • If everyone in your industry has an email newsletter, offer a weekly audio postcard.
  • If everyone in your industry offers webinars, create live events instead.
  • If everyone in your industry sells to homeowners, sell to commercial building owners, apartment renters or vacation home owners.
  • If everyone in your industry competes on price, change your model to compete on quality or speed of service.

…and the list goes on and on! There are a million big Zigs and small Zigs you can do.

You cannot stand out from the crowd by following the crowd. W. Chan Kim writes in Blue Ocean Strategy, “Companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of the existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced.”

So instead of trying to compete in a crowded marketplace, find an untapped marketplace by going after an entirely new set of customers or offering a unique blend of products and services that rise you head and shoulders above your competition.

Not Creative? Ha! Impossible!

Ah, but what if the reason you don’t Zig is because you can’t come up with creative ideas? Well, stop trying to do it on your own! Join a mastermind group, brainstorm with friends, hire a mentor. We are all creative beings, solving dozens of problems a day in creative ways.

If you need a kick-start to come up with creative Zigs, find others who will spark your ingenuity. Find a mastermind group or accountability partner that will help you brainstorm ideas.

Don’t Know How?

There’s nothing you can’t learn how to do.

If your excuse for not zigging is because you don’t know how to implement your creative idea, you’ll sabotage your success for sure. Find a book (like Blue Ocean Strategy or Positioning or Seizing The White Space), take a class, talk to colleagues, interview an expert, hire someone who knows how to do it — find a way to learn what you need to learn in order to implement your Zig Idea.

Whatever you do, set your own rules for the game. Don’t let others define what your business looks like.

Want to learn more about how to rethink and transform your business? Read my other blog posts on rethinking your business.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Rethinking Your Business, Start and Run a Mastermind Group
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Are You Having a Business Identity Crisis?

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When rethinking your business model, different roadblocks spring up along the journey. One that nearly always happens is the business identity crisis: What is my business, and where is it going?

It feels as if you’re starting out all over again with incredibly basic questions. Darn! Again? Didn’t you do this at the very beginning of your business?

Sometimes it feels like you’re sliding backwards toward square one. Don’t worry, you’re not.

It can be frustrating when you are trying to transform your business to have to question your entire business model all over again. Truly — it’s necessary, and a wise move for any seasoned business owner. I see it as a great opportunity during your business reinvention process to pause and re-examine The Nine Big Questions.

Here’s an exercise in big-picture thinking for you and your business:

  1. What do you want from your business: emotionally, financially, intellectually?
  2. What personal values does your business reflect?
  3. Have your personal values changed since the last time you created your business model? If yes, what has to change in your new business model to reflect those new values?
  4. What brand does your business currently have? Do you need to re-brand it?
  5. If you re-brand it, what image/message do you now want to project for your new business model?
  6. Which marketing techniques are working and which ones need to be ditched?
  7. Who do you serve and do you still want to serve this audience?
  8. Who are your best customers? Who are your repeat customers? How can you serve them better?
  9. And the biggest question of all: WHY are you in this business? (Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get out.)

Don’t Panic

I know that rethinking your business can feel overwhelming. Take a look at these nine questions and pick just one to ponder. Pick a question that calls to you. Trust your intelligence and gut instinct to select a starting place for reinventing your business model.

Business re-design is not just about making decisions and implementing plans. It’s about asking questions, getting clarity and finding focus. You’ll be happy you took the time to ask yourself The Nine Big Questions.

So, how about you? Which Big Question is the one that’s on your mind right now?

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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