As we slowly bring 2017 to a close, I've been reaching out to many of my protégés around the country and the world to review the year and candidly asking them about the mistakes they have made.

The lion's share of them - even working with me - all seem to deal with scale.

You've read those cautions and caveats in these pages many times and ultimately, scale is the only way that you bring an idea to the market and grow your Dream into a Great, Growing, Company.

As a result of some of this feedback, I've put together some observations based on my experience over the last forty years on where the mistakes often get made with respect to targeting - that is to say - understanding who it is that you are trying to attract.

Your product isn't for everyone, even if everyone can use it, and that is where many small companies drop the ball with respect to targeting their clients.

It's kind of interesting.  There's really about five distinct areas that I've found that any company needs to focus on to solve most issues. What are they?  All the ones that made this list are directly related to targeting and new products or services.  Read on!

  • Not going narrow enough.  Many, if not all, the failures I've studied have come from companies trying to charge a premium for a "one size fits all" approach.  If you build a product for the masses and then give it a boutique price point, very few, if any, buyers are going to use it or, more importantly, continue to use it.  A specific solution requires a specific price point, but a generic solution requires a much lower one.
  • Not taking advantage of the assets and experiences you have access to.  If you spent years in the software industry and then become a marketer, you had better acknowledge your own expertise.  At the same time, if you know a world-class software programmer, then you need to bend his or her ear to learn how your new ideas could be incorporated.   You have a team, use it!
  • Not going after a market that can make you money.  If you know that "X" market has capital and a need for a service that you can develop, then you need to determine how to break into that market.  Ignore that information at a substantial financial risk!
  • Being unclear on the clients you want.  If you don't know what kind of client can make you the most money - or who your ideal client is - then you are failing to provide them the real value that they deserve in the first place.  Until you understand who it is you are serving you can't help anyone!  At the same time, trying to serve customers that are less than ideal for your business' primary skills and products results in less than efficient operations and - let's call it what it is - less money.

Do you see something in all these?  They all revolve around the very basis of the business - The Dream, The Vision, The Purpose, and The Mission.  You need to get crystal clear - NOW - on these things and start identifying places that you have left money on the table in your overall operations.  Until you do, you are going to no operate at peak efficiency and profitability and that is a New Year's Resolution you cannot break!