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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If You’re Feeling Like Your Business Needs Reinventing, You’ve Come to the Right Place

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Does this sound familiar?

  • You’re feeling restless. You yearn for “something new” for your business, but you’re not sure what that something is yet.
  • You’re thinking, “My business model isn’t working for me anymore. What’s next for me and my business?”
  • You’re frustrated, because you’re ready to take action, if only you knew what the right action was to take.
  • You can feel change is coming — you just know it — and you’re excited about it. And maybe just a little scared.
  • You need a crystal clear vision for the future of your business. (Oh, and an action plan for implementing it would be nice, too.)
  • You’ve run a successful business before, but your goals and values have changed, and you need a business model that mirrors those changes.
  • You have bits & pieces of the picture for your new business model, but not a complete picture. You need to put the pieces together, but in an entirely different way than your current business model.
  • You want to grow personally and professionally and you want to design a business that will challenge you and help you grow.

Business reinvention is a journey of discovery.

Business reinvention isn’t about tweaking one marketing technique or hiring one employee. It’s about reinventing your whole business model.

This is not just about a minor makeover or a little face lift – it’s about transforming your business and strategically choosing the future direction of your business with complete clarity of purpose and a strong action plan.

When you reinvent and transform your business model, you are an explorer in a new territory. In this series of Business Reinvention blog posts, I talk about the different phases of this business reinvention journey, but in essence the journey begins with exploring two important pieces: You, and Your Business Goals.

Transform your business with a step-by-step process.

Business reinvention isn’t about throwing the whole thing away and starting from scratch (though you can, if you really want to). You take all your knowledge and experience and assets with you on this journey. Read What Does Business Reinvention Really Mean? to get a better idea of my definition — it may help some of the pieces fall in place for you.

Many people have been on the reinvention journey before you and there’s a process to transforming your business. In the blog, I’ll share the milestones and roadblocks I’ve discovered on my own journey, as well as Reinvention Stories from others, so that you can learn from my experience and the experiences of other small biz owners just like you.

Check out my four-part video series on how to step through the thinking process for your own business reinvention. Watch the Re/Vision video series here.

In the final analysis, it’s about having a roadmap and a compass to help you on your journey to business reinvention.

Start your business reinvention journey here>>>

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Phases of Your Business Reinvention 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 reinventing 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 reinvention:

  • 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? 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 reinvention, 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 reinventing 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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Improvement versus Innovation When Transforming Your Business

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How can you tell if you should just go after improvements, or if you should go after true innovation when transforming your business?

Susan M. Grotevant of the University of Minnesota says, “Old organizations, like old people can become set in their ways.” We tiptoe around innovation because it means getting rid of sacred cows, those projects, tasks, products and services we’ve been doing a long time but are no longer profitable, effective or efficient. Instead we settle for improvements, small tweaks that seem like we’re moving forward but really are a smokescreen to real transformation and business reinvention.

Improvement can be defined as small levels of change that have low risk, and typically start with an existing problem or process. There’s nothing wrong with gradual, consistent improvements, and the Kaizen philosophy of  change is being embraced all over the world.

But gradual improvements don’t allow for the type of creative thinking that starts with a clean slate, breakthrough thinking which helps innovate new ways of serving your customer and leapfrogging over your competitors.

Yes, innovation is riskier, but the rewards often outweigh those risks: greater revenue and profitability, thought leadership, and a bottom-up overhaul of how you serve your customers so you can serve them even better than ever.

Which strategy is better for your business reinvention? Both have their place in your strategic thinking, and your long-term goals will help you determine whether innovation or improvement is right for you. Don’t push away innovation because it feels to overwhelming or risky, though. You could be pushing away the future of your business.

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