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The recent post by Yaro seems to have stirred up some emotion between his fans. His discussion to change his business model has been based on trends and statistics, and perhaps a need to change to keep his business thriving.
You see, times change and what worked once in the past will not always work in the future. Look at any business throughout history and we will see the ones that kept their air of superiority without adapting to change, always seem to meet a similar fate. I private coach many well-known marketers and I always instill one core message: ‘Your business is either growing or dying, there is no such thing as ticking along’.
In this brief series, I will be exploring why companies must change, the mentality that ensures those changes and how to make the correct changes. I will start by talking about large companies and then translate those lessons so every small business can benefit from what we uncover. It’s a little different from my normal articles, but I really feel this is an important lesson that you all should read.
Let’s start with a quick story about two brands. Brand one was a young energetic company. Entering a new world with exciting possibilities. They were all fired up to make an impact and stake their claim.
They all happened to be college students, still able to dream big without having to think too sensibly. They fell into a magical collaboration and found that their product was distributed all over the world. Their name spread far and wide. They became rich beyond their wildest dreams.
They thought about what they could add onto their business to make it earn even more. They invented one or two new additions that fitted well and for a number of years they were simply unrivaled. People would study their brand and use it as an example of great branding.
However, they seemed to be living in their own world and forgot what was going on around them. Rival companies began to spring up around them, but they simply ignored them as inferior and nothing to worry about. Until of course, they started to lose worrying chinks of market share.
Years after they found themselves being the ones playing catchup to newer companies that were amassing huge fan bases in their own right. They were so far behind that they were no longer leading the field, but having to resort to buying other companies to ensure they were not left completely behind. Instead of leading the market, they were resorting to following competitors. Instead of creating new innovative products, they were simply following what their competitors were doing.
This once global giant is starting to lose it glimmer, and is often seen as a sinking ship in need of a new inspiring captain. What a turn around from perhaps 10 years earlier when it was the envy of the world.
That brand is, of course, Microsoft.
Now let’s talk about another brand. This brand entered a world which was already dominated by another very well-known name. They were going to have to play catchup.
They thought long and hard about what their ambition was and then gave themselves an inspiring slogan, which both motivated staff to work extra hard and gave them a focus on where they wanted to be. This mantra resonated with followers of the brand. Through efforts to be technically superior, they eventually made a foothold in a very competitive market. They were seen as a vibrant and inspiring company who was at the forefront of technology. Analysts, however, were not too impressed, as they had seen this brand cycle all too many times before. Until something amazing happened.
This company did not stick with it’s traditional market. It adapted to the changing times. It brought us new technologies based on what consumers were really telling them they wanted. They added style and flair to their products to effect mass appeal. Their ambition was not to be a big brand, but to be THE BEST BRAND. To be the leader of the pack and not the follower. They would revolutionize the way they interacted with customers, and constantly use their feedback to effect their future products. This was a company that was never going to sleep.
This company causes Microsoft headaches. This company is, of course, Apple.
I may have oversimplified the story, but the core message is abundantly clear. Apple had the vision to become the best in the market, leading the way and leaving the others behind. Their whole mantra is to be the best. They could have sat on the success of the iPod or the iPhone or even the iPad, but they choose not too. Because they know one simple lesson: your business is either growing or dying.
Microsoft forgot this lesson. Although it’s business revolved around having a go at new things, it’s larger philosophy was to maintain it’s current market share. However, if business is either growing or dying, then there is no such thing as simply maintaining your current market share. If your aim is to hold market share, then your business is simply dying.
Any business whether it be a large business or smaller business needs to make money. But when we get to a point where we are happy with our income level, we seem to slow down and attempt to maintain the status quo. Many, many Internet marketers have done this over the last few years.
They created great products after the dot-com bust of early 2000’s, made a name for themselves, earned some money and simply sat back. This is not a dig at them, many of them are my friends, but it is a harsh reality of that generation.
They forgot to think bigger then their current products. They found themselves not pushing their industry forward. They thought their business was ticking along, until it dawned on them that it was actually dying.
Their businesses were simply stagnant. They put in some effort to maintain it and bring in some fresh visitors, but there was nothing new on the horizon. They fell into Microsoft mode. They had been successful, no one can deny that. But instead of being at the forefront of their industry, they found themselves commenting on others who were biting at their market share. In business, you can never be the best for long. You have to constantly reinvent yourself to be the forerunner in the market.
This is perhaps even more important on a smaller scale. When you are a new startup, your ambition is simply to gain customers and make money. This very mindset will eventually lead to failure, because the ambition to grow your business is simply not prevalent enough.
Have a guess which one of my blogs would do the best. A blog where I want to share business advice with entrepreneurs, verses a blog where I want to share the best business advice anywhere in the world, so it is the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs.
It’s a very slight change in mindset, but it is so important. The fact that I want to be the ‘best anywhere in the world’ gives me focus in business. It helps focus me on seeking out the best advice and ensuring I am one step ahead. I never take my eyes of the competition, but I’m more focused on ensuring I lead the industry and they follow me. (Just as with Apple, it will not happen overnight, but continuous effort to that philosophy will bring just rewards.)
Now imagine another business. I want to share business fundamentals via a course to help Online Marketers improve their business, verses I will run the ‘BEST COURSE IN THE WORLD’ helping online marketers gain the complete set of business fundamentals (tools and techniques) to improve their business.
That change in focus prevents me from simply creating a product and living off it, to constantly ensuring that I educate myself to the highest level, so that I can also in turn update my course to be simply the best in the world. (That is why I recently completed my MBA, and why I currently work with universities looking at latest trends whilst continually working with real businesses. I aim to be the best Online Marketing Consultant in the industry.)
That simple change in thinking can change the life of your business.
It works on a local level too. Imagine if you were not just a good graphic artist in New York, but you were THE BEST graphic artist in New York. You no longer focus on simply finding clients and fulfilling their needs, but you find a new motivation to ensure that everyone knows about you, and that you constantly educate yourself on what is happening so that you are ahead of the game.
You surround yourself with people who live and breathe graphic design, so that there is no way you ever miss out on anything happening in this industry. You ensure you work with big clients and smaller clients, so that you completely understand the changing customers’ needs. You aim to be the best.
Don’t simply aim to do business, AIM TO BE THE BEST. Invest in yourself, surround yourself by customers and experts within your industry, and always be thinking about the next product or how you will impact the industry, because if you are not working on growing your business, then your business is simply going to die.
In the next article I will be giving tips and tricks on how to be the best in your field. Your homework today is to redefine your business strategy. What is it that you do? What is it that you will be the best at?