One of the things that I see beginning to plague small businesses and make the world “un-flat,” again is obsolescence. As you know, most small businesses that start up go out of business after a few years. Only two out of the ten that opened their doors 10 years ago are still in business under the same leadership that established the business.
A little known fact is that probably only 4% (that’s right four out of 100) of business leaders ever make more than $100K per year. (That means that if our mutual friend is bringing home more than $100K, you and I are out of luck!) The reason I bring that up is because one of the reasons people go out of business is because they are under financed. What that equates to is not having the resources necessary to keep the business in business.
As you know, one of the conversations around business has to do with doing things faster and cheaper. In order to do things faster and cheaper, people have done things such as offshoring services, cutting corners and hiring less expensive staff. What has made the greatest impact, however, in doing things faster and cheaper is technology. Sending emails and using social media are only the tip of the iceberg.
When large companies are using technology, they are doing things like cloud computing, giving their customers access to their data and projects through online portals, automating sales and marketing processes, leveraging telepresence and creating virtual workspaces for remote teams. This, unfortunately, is where the degrees of separation exist; while we, as small business owners, can attract the same audience that the bigger companies can, the bigger companies are able to put time and money into resources to create all of the bells and whistles necessary to close the deals.
Does this mean that we raise and sink a bunch of money into our own virtual infrastructures so that we can emulate what is already being done? Smart money says, “NO!” Smart money says that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. It doesn’t say bigger, flashier, Apple-er or XFinity-er. These are what restaurateurs would call a “flash in the pan.” You want a mousetrap with staying power.
As business leaders of large or small businesses, we must always be evaluating new technologies against the needs of our businesses, the needs of our clients and the expectations of our clients. One of the children from the movie, “The Incredibles” referred to this when Mr. Incredible asked him, “What are you looking at, kid?” to which the young boy responded something to the effect of “something amazing!!”
That is what our clients are expecting from us…something AMAZING! If they are used to sending emails, they aren’t going to revert to writing letters and sticking them in envelopes. If they are used to tweeting and IM’ing, they aren’t going to stand around and write and wait for emails. When we expect our clients to bend to our capabilities or interests, we are setting ourselves up for failures. In a country where service is a major product, anything less than the best is unacceptable.
With limited resources, leaders of EVERY business has got to find ways to deliver “AMAZING” and do it faster and cheaper. We’ve got to build the better mousetraps, and build them more often. Look at Apple, Sony, Microsoft, HTC, Google…they are constantly looking at ways to improve or bring new CORE products to market – not necessarily creating something from scratch, but enticing followers with more features, greater ease of use, more intuitive functionality, etc. This is how companies dominate their markets – even if they have to build a demand for a product or service! Consider this – who actually NEEDED to be able to add a thousand apps to a TELEPHONE five years ago.
Innovation must to be woven into the very fabric of your organization, or your risk obsolescence. Look, closely, at your business, at different components of your business. Determine if you are getting all of the “bandwidth” you possibly could out of each. If it’s not making money, evaluate it = can it be a money-maker? If not, toss it…send it back to the idea lab. If there are unexplored opportunities – explore them. Your customers are going to be demanding that you give them the best of the best of the best if they are spending money with you. Make them beg for more!
Go ExtraOrdinary. Stay on top of technology. Leverage resources. Cut your costs, operate more efficiently. Be a four-per-center!
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.
We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.
If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].