1. Timing is Everything
The timing of your product or service must be right in the marketplace. Mackey bit on the organic and natural food revolution just as the public’s palate for these products oozed into the mainstream, but if the market isn’t ready and you are way ahead of the market, then you must possess the drive and the willingness to sacrifice in order to make that product or service work.
You will need to choose to either wait for the market to catch up (requiring the resources to survive during that period, and accepting the risk of emerging competition), or you’ll need to adjust your offering to something more palatable to the market’s current readiness.
Smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to make choices and implement changes without the exhaustive process and conflicting points of view that slow down major corporations. You need to anticipate your market and customers’ needs and constantly innovate to stay ahead. This requires leadership with agility, resilience, and a willingness to fail–and to recognize that failure quickly enough to adapt and move forward.
2. Brand, Brand, Brand
Today’s economy requires business leaders to create positive memories for customers and partners, like Mackey has, or customers will turn to a competitor in search of a better experience. Whole Foods shoppers are loyal and believe they are embracing a healthy and socially conscious lifestyle by shopping at the stores. If you want to create a scalable business, you have to understand just how crucial it is to build brand equity. The emotional attachment that links customers to your product, as opposed to any other, translates into sustainable growth.
Here are some basic rules to connect, shape, influence, and lead with your brand:
Choose your target audience. The surest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people.
Connect with the public. Your objective is to make your audience feel an emotional attachment to your brand.
Inspire and influence your audience. An inspirational brand message is far more influential than one that just highlights product feature functions.
Reinforce the brand image within your company. Make sure employees at every level of your organization work and behave in a way that reinforces your brand image.
3. Scale Your Sales
Creating a unique product and a unique brand isn’t enough. It takes repeatable sales processes to create a scalable business. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design, and implement repeatable sales and customer delivery processes. You’ve created a repeatable and scalable sales model when:
- You can add new hires at the same productivity level as yourself or your sales leader.
- You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.
- Your sales conversion rate and revenue can be consistently forecasted.
- Your cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.
- Your customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.
A repeatable sales model builds the platform to scale. Like the search for product/market fit, it can take major experimentation/R&D to find a repeatable and scalable sales model.
4. Embrace Technology
Nearly two thirds, or 64%, of the recent Bank of America (BofA) Small Business Owner Survey respondents said they wish they took better advantage of technology innovations to help manage their business. If a small business can identify a genuine need, technology likely exists to fulfill that need both locally and globally. There are few barriers to entry in an age where anyone with wireless can cheaply and quickly access the enabling technologies needed to execute their business model. It comes down to creating the right operating blueprint that connects the dots between your business model and the application of accessible technologies.