The answers to this question we consistently hear back has three common themes: “I started my business because I believed I could make more money working for myself than being someone else’s employee”; “I wanted more freedom over my own time now and in the future”; and “We believed that being a business owner was the best way to create balance in our lives and more choices for our families”.
Many of the business owners we spoke to mostly ran successful businesses. Yet when asked about their current reality in terms of financial opportunity, freedom, and balance most of them felt they were simply not reaching the goals they had set out to achieve. Instead, they told us “I’m not making the money I want”, or “I want less stress”, or “We don’t get to take the holidays and family time we need”, or “I want to exit”.
We hope to help you to achieve for your family all that you set out to achieve when you started your business, however, what we find interesting is that everyone thinks the issues they face are unique, however almost all the blocks to a business’s progress can be traced back to one or two key issues. Of course, the time, money and freedom are essential, but what are the real reasons for being in business? Let us start by giving you some food for thought about your REAL reasons for being in business….
The most important reason for being in business, is first of all understanding WHY you are in business for yourself.
All businesses understand ‘how’ they do what they do (their treatments, products and services etc), they talk about everything they sell and provide, they become product obsessed, or technology obsessed, but they never really understand ‘what’ their patients really want (the fundamental intellectual property and rocket juice that sits at the heart of the business and what makes their customers are really ‘buying’).
It is rare that a business will actually say: “We provide what a customer needs and wants”.
Most businesses say “we have great products and a quality service, – so let’s get some clients”.
What business are you REALLY in?
Very few businesses really understand the ‘why’. It’s a pity because the ‘why’ is where the power is.
If you aren’t getting the results in your business that you expect, hope and feel you deserve. Why is this? Are you simply peddling commodities? Is there no difference between your practice and your competitor across town? If you think about all the most successful businesses, the ones people would most like to work for, they all have a strong and well understood ‘why’. It’s this ‘why’ that staff buy into figuratively – and customers buy into literally.
If you want to differentiate your practice and build a brand, then you must really understand the needs of your patients and the outcome of their experience: both from a tangible and intangible perspective;
For example the tangible treatments and results you provide mean that lines are softened and complexions are more radiant. However, it is the intangible results they provide to your patients that really matter and make the difference: improved confidence, self-esteem and an inner glow. The intangible outcome of their experience.
Charles Revson, the Founder of Revlon Cosmetics summarised this well back in the 1930’s: “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.“
Apple understands why it exists in its bones and has invested huge amounts of time in instilling this belief in its staff. This ‘why’ is distinct from ‘what’ it does. Apple believes that everything they do challenges the status quo. It believes in solving problems for people through great design. Making and selling computers is just ‘what’ it does. This fundamental belief in a ‘why’ drives everything the business does – it creates the context for all the decisions the business makes. Go into any Apple store and you’ll see the outcome in powerfully motivated staff who love working there and believe passionately in the product they sell – and communicate that passionate belief to customers.
Compare Apple to Dell, a company with a clear understanding of ‘what’ it does but not ‘why’ and shows how this limits them. Since Dell has a clear ‘what’ (make and sell computers) and Apple has a clear ‘why’ (solve problems through great design) customers will only buy computers from Dell whilst they’ll buy computers, music and telecommunications from Apple. And they’ll make every purchase decision when buying Dell partly on price (since it’s a rational ‘what’ choice) but price hardly features when buying Apple, which gives Apple a very healthy margin and a massive valuation. This is the power of positioning – the power of an ‘Iconic’ brand.
Remember when Bill Gates said “We will put a computer in every home and in every office across America”. But do you remember what happened when Microsoft stopped thinking like an iconic brand? They went from constantly innovating to simply wanting to double their turnover and that’s when everything changed for them. It was no longer about their customers, it was simply about the bottom line.
The most ‘Iconic’ brands set themselves up to SERVE customers.
Disney – To make people happy
Sony – To experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public
Nike – To experience the emotion of competition, winning and crushing competitors.
Google became iconic as they wanted to redefine how people use the web. They succeeded.
First Direct redefined banking for customer convenience and provided a 24/7 banking service for the convenience and ease of their customers.
THINK ABOUT THE FOLLOWING FOR YOUR PRACTICE:
Think about your mission, what it is that you want to be known for, the reason you get up each day.
Be RADICALLY different to any other company. Set yourself up to ignore the competition. Google have no enemies, but Microsoft and IBM think that their enemy is Apple. You don’t have to have an enemy although it can be powerful if you KNOW you can do a much better job than them.
What do you want to be known for? Remember, unless you KNOW what you want to be known for you can’t design your practice to serve customers first
What are you up to other than making money?
What are you trying to re-define/re-create?
What do you want to be TRUSTED for?
How do you want to leave people feeling? What emotions do you want them to experience? (Elation, confidence, happiness)
What will make your life worth living? What legacy do you want to leave?
What culture do you want to instil with your staff? Everybody in your business should feel the same.
What is the outcome of your brand experience?
When you talk about customer service what wording do you use? What stories have you collected?
What do you talk about in staff meetings? How are people rewarded? How empowered are your staff?
TOP TIP: Make sure you move away from COLD, ONE SIZE FITS ALL, to an individual experience.
WHAT TO DO NOW: Answer the above questions honestly and MEAN the answers. Design your whole experience around what you want to be known for and how you want your clients/customers to FEEL.
For the next week, when you make any decision in your business (even the small ones) ask yourself “Why did I decide that way?”
When you are communicating decisions, communicate the ‘Why’ as well as the ‘What’.
When discussing decisions with your partners or team, if you find yourself moving in circles ask the group “Why are we making this decision?” – And have a conversation about that instead. The actual decision will usually appear much faster as a result.