A few years ago, Yvon Chouinard was asked, “How do you know if you’re making the right move?
He said, “It’s a lot of gut instinct. If you study something to death, if you wait for the customer to tell you what he wants, you’re going to be too late, especially for an entrepreneurial company. That comes from Henry Ford: Customers didn’t want a Model T, they wanted a faster horse.”
The last time I checked, Yvon Chouinard’s Patagonia was debt-free and selling $575m per year. I like his track record.
I bring up this question of “making the right move” because it’s exactly what every business owner wants to do right now. But how can we know what “the right move” is if we don’t have enough information?
In the absence of a crystal ball, let’s begin with the assumption that this virus and the social upheaval that came with it aren’t going to go away all at once.
Now let’s speculate about what things might look like in 7 months.
It is Thanksgiving Day, 2020. People are still worried about a “second wave” of infections and the unemployment problem hasn’t entirely disappeared, either.
Seven months from now when you look back at this moment, what will you be thankful you decided to do TODAY?
I’m trying to say… No, what I’m shouting is, “Now is the time for you to tweak your business model.”
You and I and everyone else (except maybe Chick-fil-A) is effectively out-of-business because the underlying assumptions that sustained our business models are no longer true. This isn’t just “a moment” that will soon pass, it is a season that will be with us for a number of months, at least.
You didn’t want to hear that, and I didn’t want to say it. But it is precisely what you need to hear right now if you’re going to look back in 7 months and be glad of the decisions you made.
We are in the early stages of a once-in-a-lifetime change of fortune, and fortunes. This is when the big fish quit eating the small fish. This is when the fast fish eat the slow.
If your plan is to “wait it out until everything gets back to normal,” you are in danger of being the slow fish.
You’ve got to make it easier for your customer to do business with you. Think big but start small. Start with something you can do TODAY.
I have a friend who owns a jewelry store in a town of about 115,000 people. When his state went into lockdown mode, the other 8 jewelry stores sent their people home to “wait it out.” But my friend decided to answer the phone each day, just in case a customer had a need that couldn’t wait until things were “back to normal.” He was laughing when he called me a couple of days ago. “Roy, I’ve sold 4 engagement rings in the past 5 days because of this new, high-tech thing I’m doing called ‘answering the phone.’”
WOW 1 DAY PAINTING is one of the new international franchises of Brian Scudamore, the founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, the largest privately-owned junk removal service on earth. Prior to the public becoming concerned about Covid-19, WOW 1-DAY PAINTING was doing more interior painting than exterior. It took Brian less than 48 hours to create and distribute a new radio ad for all his franchise partners.
James: WOW 1 DAY PAINTING
Brian: can paint the exterior of your house
James: in just [pause] 1 [pause] DAY. [SFX Magic Sparkle]
Brian: Your next-door-neighbor will drive to the grocery store,
James: and when they get back, [SFX Magic Sparkle]
Brian: your house will be a whole different color!
James: Seriously, we are THAT good.
Brian: We can give you a price during a live video chat.
James: You can even PAY over the phone!
Brian: WOW! [SFX Magic Sparkle]
James: 1 DAY PAINTING
Brian: is a precision team
James: of professional painters
Brian: who plan
James: and prepare
James: Happy painters wearing uniforms!
Brian: Go to WOW 1 DAY dot com
Next, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING is going to post all the thousands of available paint colors on their website. But that takes time. Offering to quote a price during a live video chat and allowing customers to pay over the phone are things they could do TODAY.
When reinventing your business model, the most important thing to keep in mind is this:
“If the Wizard of Ads was wrong, and this virus goes away all at once, and everything goes back to exactly how it used to be, will I still be glad I made the changes I made? Will I have moved my company forward by making it easier for customers to do business with us?”
How can you tweak your business model to make it easier for your customer to do business with you? How much of it can you do TODAY? And be sure to do only those things that you should have already done. Take only those actions for which there is no downside in the future.
The hardest thing you will ever do is trust yourself.
But it is also the most important.
Roy H. Williams
PS – If you’d like to talk for an hour about possible ways to tweak your business model, email firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll set you up with a couple of wizards who will stimulate your thinking and encourage your soul. Merry Christmas.
Roving reporter Rotbart and his multi-talented wife, Talya, recently co-authored a book about two Canadian entrepreneurs, Margaret and Riyaz Adat, who have become global role models for do-it-yourself charitable projects. Perfectly Ordinary, Yet Extraordinary, recounts how the Adats, an upper-middle-class couple, leveraged determination, focus, love, and their limited personal resources to rescue a woebegone school in faraway Arusha, Tanzania, from the brink of collapse. This week, Margaret and Riyaz join the roving reporter to encourage the rest of us, no matter how limited our resources, that we can really can make a difference in the lives of others. MondayMorningRadio.com