I have spent several decades helping people to develop their businesses and in 2013 wrote a book about it that was downloaded 25,000 times on Kindle. It is the approach that Phil and I use when helping our customers to evolve their ecommerce businesses.As a one-stop-shop for ecommerce we don’t just help our clients with the technical stuff, we help them to evolve, to become more successful across the board. We thought it might be helpful to outline here exactly what we do, in stages, taking one step at a time.
The most successful businesses are always on their toes. They rarely keep banging their head against a wall when things don’t work - like less successful businesses - they move on. They keep changing in response to a changing world. But not everything changes, in fact, that is what makes them successful – they know what to change and what to keep the same.
The consistency of product or service, or both, that helps them to stand out from the competition. It is also what is encapsulated in their brand. To do this you need to be clear about what these special characteristics of your business, that allow you to be different, actually are.
Quite a lot of businesses aren’t clear about the drivers of their brand or its success. Or at least they don’t make the most of it by communicating it clearly to potential new customers. The starting place for all this is the answer to a seemingly simple question:
What business are you in?
Easy question, right?
Well, from my experience, this is not as easy as it might seem. Businesses are often involved in several different things, or have more than one product or service category, and not all of them are quite as commercially attractive as others. It is possible for there to be similar levels of activity across the product or service range but a strong disparity in profitability. It is not unusual for most profit to come from a small group of products.
To answer my first question, I always look at where the gross margin is coming from. If 80% of your gross margin is generated by product group A, then you are in the A business, even if you are selling product groups B,C,D, and E too. Now, you will only generate high gross margins if you have some sort of competitive advantage. So, you will find that if you tell your prospects what it is that makes you different you will sell more, because the barriers for new customers will be lowered.
Now, while this may seem straightforward, it Is not easy to do. Businesses have inertia and none of us like change, so it is easier to discount the need to think this way, or even to accept that you don’t do all this already. You know what is driving your competitive advantage and gross margin. You communicate it clearly in all your marketing. You use it to set a development path for your business that changes over time, but keeps true to these fundamentals that have got you this far.
If you do this you are an exception and, most likely, very successful.
If you find any of these thoughts provoking and want to know how we might be able to help you develop your business further please get in touch. You might be surprised what value fresh eyes can see tucked away in your business.