Business owners are being forced to re-invent their business in one way or another. A few examples I have been involved in include:
- A training business pivoting from face-to-face workshops to online workshops;
- An IT business accelerating its use of remote access software to monitor and control their customers’ technology;
- An auditor switching to remote audits rather than visiting their customers’ sites.
I have also done some re-inventing in my business. Switching my peer group from monthly half day meeting with breakfast butties to bi-weekly 2 hour virtual meeting supplemented by a tea, coffee and biscuit gift pack sent in the post! I have also set up a Free Virtual Peer group to support business owners for the period during lockdown. Check it out for a taster session.
How Will You Re-Invent Your Business?
This article is one of a series that I will be writing over the coming weeks to suggest different ways of re-inventing your business if Covid-19 is forcing you to have a rethink. In each article I will refer to businesses I personally know plus I will refer to the ultimate outcome of a business re-invention: a successful sale of the business.
The story of those business sales will be told by John Warrillow, the founder of the Value Builder system, through his podcast series, Built to Sell Radio. John has consolidated 8 of his ‘re-inventing’ podcasts into an eBook, 8 Ways To Re-Invent Yourself In A Crisis, available to download here.
So What Is The First Way Of Re-Inventing Yourself?
Well, I’ll admit it, this isn’t so much a re-invention as a reinforcement. It’s a simple yet incredibly powerful business maxim that is too easily ignored by impatient business owners:
Do one thing…by focusing on what you are good at.
You may refer to this as building a niche or as Warren Buffet refers to building a moat around your castle. An alternative saying is ‘sticking to the knitting’.
There are many practical advantages of sticking to the knitting:
- Marketing differentiation is easier when you have one offering and you have the track record and customer feedback that proves it;
- That differentiation allows you to exercise some element of pricing authority. Yes, you can charge a premium because you are good at what you do;
- Sticking to what you do well means your business processes are more straightforward, efficient and reliable;
- Growing the capacity of your business is simpler – recruiting staff to continue that focus and operating reliable processes;
- Ultimately your business will become attractive to others who haven’t the time or money to copy you.
I have seen such laser focus work in businesses I know well. They aren’t as big as Stephanie Breedlove’s, one of the business owners that John Warrillow interviews in his podcast, but the messages are similar.
A great example is Matt Driver of Mint IT in Wakefield. Putting it very simply, Matt knows how to deliver IT services to primary schools. He grew up doing it, knows how schools work, what is important to head teachers. He good at it. Has he launched into secondary schools or private businesses or other public sector organisations? No, he is sticking to his knitting – geographic expansion to other primary schools and adding value to each school – taking away their worries about technology, regulation and managing a tight budget
So go ‘inch wide and mile deep’. Listen to Stephanie Breedlove whose niche was offering payroll services to people who employed nannies. Really inch wide as she didn’t try to sell payroll services to private businesses. But, really mile deep, growing her business by expanding to thousands of customers. Remember, most private customers only hire a single nanny so the payroll fee is not that big. Her laser focus grew the business to $9million and a sale of $55million – an incredible revenue multiple of six!
Stephanie was interviewed by John Warrillow, author of Built to Sell: Creating a business that can thrive without you. John is also the host of Built to Sell Radio, a regular podcast revealing the stories and advice of business owners who have sold their businesses. Listen to the full interview with Stephanie.
In my next article I will be introducing Sunny Vanderbeck, who made a dramatic investment when the market was in freefall. In the meantime if you want to see what our peer group is all about register here.