Every day I meet people who are really good at what they do; and every day I remind myself what I am best at. It’s not because I need the constant ego boost, but because I have to remind myself to stay focused…laser focused on the big picture instead of getting side-tracked when something sparkly catches my eye.
Why is it that companies like Kodak, Xerox and Microsoft still thrive in today’s competitive space given the fact they were founded 35, 104 and 118 years ago? It’s because not only did they stick to what they knew, they knew their strengths and they made a commitment to creating and changing the rules to stay on the leading edge. Take Kodak, for instance and their Wikipedia blurb, “Long known for its wide range of photographic film products, Kodak is re-focusing on two major markets: digital photography and digital printing.” Besides the witty use of “re-focusing,” it indicates a major shift in business model. Why did Kodak “get it” and Polaroid miss it? A one sentence explanation in Wikipedia for Polaroid about sums that up as well, “Its bankruptcy was widely believed to be the result of the failure of its senior management to anticipate the effect of digital cameras on its film business.”
My analogy is not to promote one digital camera company over another, but it is an example of defining what a picture perfect business model using best practice philosophy might look like. Sometimes we forget to change our speed. Sometimes we forget to focus. Either way, the picture is blurry; as are the lines between the way we’ve always done it and the way we need to do it going forward. Maybe somewhere between the iron-clad mission statement and a look into the crystal ball lies the secret to the ever-changing business model.
This concept is illustrated in a 2006 article in Entrepreneur Magazine, where the emphasis is on progression and adaptation to change. “This kind of business-model evolution is just smart business in a marketplace that’s moving at warp speed. Gone are the days when a growing business with any hopes of long-term survival could etch a business model in stone and follow it into oblivion. Savvy customers and a fragmented marketplace require companies to move on, adapt or die. In the 21st century, it’s not merely an original idea that endures in survival of the fittest; it’s the ability to change. Strength is derived from nimbleness within the business model itself.”
So how does that apply to the rest of us solo- and entrepreneurs? It means that yes, we need to stay laser focused on what we’re good at, but it also means that we need to evaluate and re-evaluate to keep our head out of the sand. Here are a few steps to keeping up with the changing times in your business:
- Brainstorm about your company ideas, products and factors that are important to your largest client base
- Discuss how their industries are changing and make sure your product is still relevant to theirs
- List your company’s core competences and things you do better than anyone else
- Brainstorm on how your core competencies can morph into products or services your customers can’t live without
- Don’t get side-tracked with smaller projects that are outside the scope of what you’re great at
- Make sure you’re offering an environment of change within your organization that is being shoved in anyone’s face
- Re-write your “tagline” or “business focus” daily, weekly or monthly until you get it right…take a snap shot then look at it in a month to make sure it has kept up with the change
The punchline to all of this is that the picture perfect business model is not the etched-in-stone model of our predecessors; ours is now one of mobility and agility. Keeping your staff part of the process is not just smart, it’s a necessity since they’re more likely to be tuned-in to the changing needs and trends of your customers. I’m always an advocate of the “go with what you know” philosophy, but that does not mean you can’t learn new things and adapt to new ways of doing them. Get the picture?