Why reinvent the wheel? The most successful businesses in the world are all based on commodities, not products. "Product life" is measured in months, not years, and as soon as you introduce a "product," understand that others in your business are going to reverse engineer it to duplicate the results after they circumnavigate the patents, the trademarks, and the intellectual property.
The successful companies USE the commodities they sell and create an experience with them - be it a hamburger, a cup of coffee, a cellphone, or a discount store.
How did the entrepreneurs of McDonalds, Starbucks, Apple and Walmart make that happen? Every one of them stood outside the business as they were building it to see how to perfect the company. Why aren't you?
Simple - small businesses don't "work" - the people that own them do! Why is that? Because the model isn't a successful one and unless you do three very specific things right now, at the dawn of your company, you are going to be stuck in the middle, in the business, and unable to establish even the most basic systems to allow you to grow in the future.
Where to start? Right here! If you are already open for business, then you need to reverse engineer these pieces. On the other hand, if you are starting with a blank sheet of paper and a beginner's mind, these HAVE to be in place if you ever can hope to scale your business from a company to an enterprise.
The truly great companies, and, as I said earlier, they sell commodities, all became great because at the onset, they did these three things:
· Generate Leads - It's hard to think about Walmart needing lead generation, but as a startup, you can rest assured they did. In 1962, no one used the term "lead generation" but you can rest assured that Sam Walton understood that pricing and variety played a role in getting people into his stores. The truth might be lost to history, but over half a century later, that strategy is still playing a key role in the retail giant's success. Understand this - as a new company, if you don't know how to get interested prospects into your company, then you don't have a company. At the same time, if you, as a owner, have to drive every lead into your business, then you need a real lead generation strategy.
· Lead Conversion - Let's move from one retail giant to another with Lead Conversion. Do you make it hard to buy from your business? Think of checking out on Amazon - it couldn't be easier. Starbucks is the same way, even though it is a radically different company. In fact, Starbucks now uses a system for online ordering where the customer needs only to order and pay through the app - then simply walk into the store and pick up the order a few minutes later. If you make converting a lead into a sale harder than a trip to the local DMV, then you lose sales to someone else - with an inferior product - who can make it painless. Don't do that!
· Client Fulfillment - My earlier examples have dealt with a retail environment, so fulfillment can be virtually instantaneous. At the same time, Amazon has created a system to put new purchases in the hands of buyers faster, year after year. In neighborhoods around the world, even on Sundays, a steady stream of deliveries from Amazon find their way to their new homes in less than 24 hours, no matter what the product is. Have you incorporated the fulfillment side into your business? If you are the sales staff and the production staff, chances are your fulfillment is going to take longer than a systemized fulfillment platform - and that means that buyers and clients are not getting the treatment that they have become accustomed too and the chance for them to look elsewhere is very real.
Ultimately, the economy we operate in as entrepreneurs is predicated on commodities. As much as you'd like to believe that your business is special, chances are, you're dealing with a commodity. It could be a rare one, but a commodity nonetheless. You may sing at pet funerals, you may design water pumps for antique engines, or you may be a web designer, but in the end, your customers have options in choosing to do business with you. Your success starts with how you are able to get clients in the door, get their business, and leave them satisfied. If you, personally, have to spend too much time doing that, you have simply bought yourself a job, not an enterprise. Take hints from success stories all around you!