Business easn’t easy. There is the operational side….with the right systems in place is manageable.
The difficult side of business is the thinking side….creating new products/services….new ideals.
In our businesses….50% of the time (or at least it seems that) was spent in developing the next promotion….seeking the next trend….and making sure the customers got our best product and service. Sometimes the ideas were great….sometimes not.
If a business is not generating new (and great ideas)….it won’t grow!
Business & People & Customers
Long-term brands and relationships are built on alignment.
A perfect relationship: I want your company to help me, and your company wants to help me. We’re both focused on helping the same person. – Seth Godin (SG)
For some businesses/organizations, alignment can be a difficult concept. Unless everyone is aligned together….the business will always sputter along.
Alignment may sound academic….however, it has to be a key part of the businesses/organization foundation. A non-profit that I wrote about in the past was never in alignment. The members and leaders had different objectives. Eventually….it failed.
In our business….we probably never thought about alignment….fortunately our team was on the same page (for the most part).
Alignment isn’t something you say. It’s something you do. Alignment is demonstrated when you make the tough calls, when you see if the thing that matters the most to you is also the thing that matters the most to the other person.
The tension that comes from misalignment can work for a while, but it’s when alignment kicks in that the enterprise really works. (SG)
Doing it Different
Buying eye glasses can be a little daunting and expensive….new lens and frames….$300-$400. Yet, if one visits the Internet, prescription glasses can be had for less than $50. Now $50 doesn’t get the buyer much service.
Clark Howard indicated that the opportunity exists for a new businesses that bridge the gap between the $50 no service glasses….and the $300 full service prescription glasses.
The real story:
Find a market that is not served….develop a way to deliver a value product/service to that market.
Don’t be small because you can’t figure out how to get big. Consider being small because it might be better. – Seth Godin
It is always on the radar: small vs. big….big is not always better…. a big fish in a little pond/little fish in a big pond.
Through the years, I have seen good businesses get overly ambitious….expanding to multitude locations. For some if management/leadership is astute, it works. For others that overextend themselves in capital and people, it eventually leads to demise.
Our thinking (like Seth Godins) was always to get better….growing carefully….getting the right people onboard.
Even more so….getting the right people with a vested interest in the business was our most important strategy for being better (and bigger).
Great Businesses Anywhere
I couldn’t pass up a post on Baker Boy. Baker Boy in Dickinson, ND makes basic everyday bakery products that bakeries, schools, restaurants and convenience stores use each day. The company has been in business for 56 years….has sales of $35 million….and continues to grow . Its market is in the northern part of the country.
Dickinson is a town of about 17,000 in central ND….not even close to large markets. Yet, Baker Boy is a family business that knows it’s customers….and is investing in a $13 million expansion to increase its business.
Good businesses can be found anywhere.
I just heard one of our vendors from our furniture business days….shut down. The Berkline Corporation was a prominent name in recliners in our era. We were a big retailer of the line. Berkline had been in business for decades.
At they end of March….unable to find a buyer….Berkline shut its doors.
Bob Ingersoll was the sales rep. A classic peddler from that era traveling from town to town….writing orders….visiting friends at each business. Bob was a good friend of ours and a real character….playing the piano at the drop of a hat.
In a down market….without sufficient capital….some businesses can’t survive.
Of course there will be other stronger companies that will continue on. Businesses/organizations have life cycles….for some it is shorter than others…..as well as some create new life cycles.
Note: The recliner in the ad was a best seller in our days….$89 with a lifetime guarantee on the reclining mechanism.
Understand the Market
A rather interesting story appeared in The Muskegon Chronicle…..about a relatively new business….Family Farm and Home (FFH)). Family Farm and Home is a resurrection of Quality Farm & Fleet (QFF) which was headquartered in Muskegon in the 70s and 80s.
FFH has 19 stores in Michigan and Indiana. It is a specialty retailer of farm and home products to rural homeowners. The stores range in size from 29,000 to 44,000 square feet.
QFF did well in its early years with the farm and home concept….a merger with another competitor led to its demise. In addition, QFF was a neighbor to our family business in Muskegon….we knew them well.
Al Fansler, a former executive with QFF formed FFH in 2002. Yet, until now they have been off the local business radar screen. The best part of the story….they purchased a historical building in the redeveloped downtown as company HQ.
Good for Family Farm and Home….Good for Muskegon.
FFH a business that knows its market.