Having worked with both large and small businesses, it has become increasing apparent that most small businesses focus on short term tactics, random tactics whilst the larger players focus on strategy, the bigger picture. The actions of larger businesses are ALWAYS driven by an agenda that is not always obvious to the outside observer. The actions of fledgling small businesses seem mostly to be based on what everybody seems to be doing.
Let me demonstrate what I mean with a football (soccer) analogy. I mean no disrespect to football fans; I watch football once every four years during the world cup. I get really excited to see Ghana and UK play after which I go into football hibernation for another four years!
When I watch football, all I see are grown men (or women) chasing a ball hoping to get it into the goal post (trying to make a sale). I’m clueless to the strategic role of each player, his goal record, or the strategy behind each players positioning. I don’t understand or care much that each player has been preselected based on a strict criteria of fitness, goals scored, performance during training, leadership qualities etc. I don’t understand or appreciate the amount of preparation that has gone into the match and that players have been bought, transferred, sold and loaned (for jaw dropping sums) just to get the set up on pitch.
If I were to copy them, I would just get people together on the pitch with no training trying to do the same thing. The results will be laughter and a few goals (if I’m lucky) or disappointment and injuries.
It is the same in business. Simply observing and copying what other businesses are doing will not get you the same results, infact, it’s a recipe for disaster.
There is a simple reason why you may not get the same results.
You won’t get the same results because you don’t understand the reason why they are doing what they are doing and you have no understanding of the results they are hoping to get with that action. I have done things because other people are doing it and flopped miserably. Lesson well learnt. Understanding the reasoning behind the tactics guarantees better results.
Lets take Sally (names have been changed to hide identity) who was trying to sell a high end discretionary product in a location and to demographics that have little or no residual income. Her prices were comparable with the top players in the field and although her products were just as good if not better, there was no way a young company could go head to head with big competitors.
She was frustrated because she had been in business a while had although the business looked profitable to observers, she was struggling to grow it.
She needed a different approach.
After some braining storming and researching (done at no cost at her local library) we identified the right demographic and price range that her people could afford. She was able to introduce a product within the range that was affordable whilst still marketing the higher end (something she was very passionate about) exclusively to VIP clients.
She had been thinking about doing this for a while, but only felt confident to pursue it when she had confirmation through research. Understand what the market drivers are and how you can position your products or services for best results. Its not what everybody is doing but why everybody is doing what they are doing that you should concern yourself with.
Tactics are like opinion you can get a dozen for a dime. Just ask anybody and they will give you business advice, e.g. get a website, get on Twitter; LinkedIn, Facebook and go out networking and your business will explode. These are all tactics and if you’ve been in business for any length of time you know it takes more than each of these or all of these to make it LAST.
Next time you want to adapt some new tactic in your business, make sure you understand the WHY for doing what you are doing and make sure it supports a longer term agenda. Quick wins are good but longevity is even better.
If you’ve already been doing all the tactical things and not seeing much result, then try to fit them around a strategy and let me know how you get on.
Any thoughts and feedback on welcome.
PS: Along the same vein, my reason for blogging is to showcase my knowledge, give value upfront. I want to provide valuable content that helps business owners understand why their businesses are not working and what they can do to change it. As I market my business through blogging, I’m also making progress towards a life ambition of being a best selling author (phew, there I’ve put it out there) with a series of books to my name and a good way to start is by writing regularly, right?