Sunday, August 5, 2012

You don’t have a business…you only have an IDEA By Katrina M. Harrell

Companies like Apple, Facebook, Instagram and Google all get this and that is why they are as successful as they are even in what seems to be a short amount of time. Entrepreneurship for many is a term that is often misused, many new business owners and self-employed individuals have dreams and aspirations of entrepreneurship but never fully become an entrepreneur because of lack of understanding the importance of what entrepreneurship IS, what it isn’t and what impact or contribution they truly make to the world.

In studying entrepreneurship for nearly two decades and myself having started two entrepreneurial endeavors I’ve learned very early that your business isn’t the THING you do, or the product you offer. It’s not even the service you provide. Your business or your role as an entrepreneur is only in exploring one critical thing that sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the world that drives you to invest all of who you are into a business venture despite the lack of certainty that this new venture will actually pay off.

Entrepreneurship is only an IDEA.

It’s never the iPod for Apple; it’s “how can we create an experience for everyday people to engage with their favorite artist in a way that is liberating, easy and intuitive.”
It’s not the search engine for Google; it’s “how can we create an experience for people to utilize the internet in a way that puts them in control of their personal experience with the internet.”
Understanding that your business isn’t the “thing” you do but the experience you create for your customer is the first most important step in creating a business that is sustainable, innovative, and impactful. Many business owners remain stuck on services and products that don’t produce or are too fickle in their business (creating a new product every other month at the whim of a new client need only to see that not everyone has this need or they just simply aren’t buying it) and as a result have a bunch of “things” in their business instead of a clear and focused intention to not create “things” but experiences.

So what are 3 things you should or should NOT do in your business now to change its course?
  1.      Don’t develop the “supermarket” syndrome. You know, having a business that has something for everyone but nothing for no one. Evaluate your service offerings or products in your business right now. What are you offering that people are actually buying, consistently? Focus on those core 3 things and ‘boutique” your business – It’s best to be know for 1 amazing product than 50 sub-par products. It’s not a popularity contest first. The popularity comes with being effective.
  2.      Don’t focus on the “thing”. As I’ve illustrated, people don’t buy ipods, they buy Mp3 players. However they chose the iPod because of the experience the iPod creates for the customer. It’s not the hamburger, it’s the experience McDonald’s creates for its customers that makes Mickey D’s so lasting. What are the non spoken reasons your customers buy from you? Ask them, why do they hire your firm for PR or why do they buy your body butters, why do they call you for speaking? THAT is what they are buying…the ‘thing’ can always change
  3.       Connect to your “why”. Why are you in business? I teach in my online course that one should never be a Problem solver in business but a solution provider. Is I stated in #2, you want customers for life to create this you want your customer to see you as a solution, meaning as long as they have problems to solve, they will always come to you for a solution. Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, they trust that you are able to provide it. This is how you become the Apple of your industry.

Entrepreneurship has always been in the veins of our country and even world. It’s who and what many of us are. We are inventors, innovators, creators. Understanding what we are is powerful in understanding how to turn your business around, attract clients that believe in your business and vision even if it’s not fully developed. Successful businesses understand the power of evolution and realize that the only “thing” they create is a new reason to create. Allow your customers to build your business for you, not only is it liberating, but it’s sustainable and profitable.

To read more from this guest blogger follow Katrina M. Harrell at @KatrinaMHarrell