Have you been island hopping recently?
No, I don’t mean sitting on the beach, sipping fruity drinks in far off tropical locations.
I mean, have you been jumping from one new business idea to the next without a plan to connect the dots?
It happens more often than business owners care to admit, and it keeps them from growing their companies as quickly as they’d like.
As owners and entrepreneurs, it is our job to create value for our customers. Part of that process includes innovating – creating new ideas and adapting existing ones to deliver even more value and stay ahead of our competition.
But how do we balance finding “the next big thing” with taking the time necessary to make the previous “big thing” work? How do we prevent our business from turning into a string of deserted islands rather than a lush, tropical paradise? How do we prevent our business from under-performing because we’ve over-committed?
Your job as an entrepreneur is to connect the dots so that your product (or service) is accessible to as many people who want, need, and are willing to pay for it as possible – AND refine their experience to the point they can’t live without it.
As the business owner, your job is not to manage the inventory or roast the coffee or update the website or bake the cookies or post to Pinterest. And yet, we feel like we should because “it’s our business.” We should do it all because “our competition is doing it, therefore we probably should too.”
As Chris Brogan, long-time blogger and fellow Ohio Growth Summit speaker, puts it, “Blogging is not your job…unless it is.” What he means is, business owners shouldn’t be blogging unless that’s what they get paid to do. If you’re a copywriter and your paycheck depends on producing content, then you should be writing. But if you’re a business owner, your job is to determine how blogging helps you strengthen the four pillars below, and then outsource it to someone more capable.
The Four Pillars of Business Growth
Last month, I presented this framework for business growth at the 10th Annual Ohio Growth Summit. It was my first time presenting the principles I write about on my blog, and it was met with warm reception.
People are often intimidated by the word systems because of the technical sound and think they need to be overly complicated in order to work. In practice, only four elements need to be created and connected in order for a business system to prosper.
If no one knows who you are or what your company does, it’s going to be difficult to provide value and therefore sell anything. By identifying your audience, exposing them to what you do, and expanding the reach of your message, you stand a much better chance of being found, and therefore being able to serve your customers.
Now that your ideal customer knows who you are and what you do, it’s time to put your product or service in her hands. Work to eliminate any hesitation they might have by using social proof, streamlining your sales process, and providing top-notch customer service.
The brands that see exceptional growth are the ones that deliver incredible experiences to their customers. They slowly convert customers to loyal brand advocates by showing them how indispensable their product or service is, by making it remarkable enough that they tell other people about it, and by making it so “sticky” that people can’t help but think about it or use it on a daily basis.
At the core, building a sustainable business is about changing behavior. Almost every company out there can sell something to someone once. But the most successful ones are able to retain customers and build relationships with them over time. This can be achieved through triggers (cues that get customers to think of your brand), raving fans (those people who will buy everything you have to offer), and word-of-mouth (techniques that get people to tell others about your brand for you).
Find an audience. Connect them with what you sell. Ensure they love what you deliver through incredible experiences. Have them spread the word for you.
These four pillars represent a straight-forward approach to systematically building your business. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Each step in the process requires time, focus and dedication. When done properly, business owners have a framework that helps them create a sustainable business by connecting one step of the customer experience to the next – rather than wasting time on isolated tactics that don’t support one another.