It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘vision’

Your Startup Is Bigger Than You

After interviewing high level business pioneers and making headway on their book, here’s a big take-away: Most people have heard the phrase, “Know your *WHY* ” But what does it really mean and how do you apply it for sustainable success?

strategy

A little history lesson in product/service development and sales: Most young entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that their innovative product is king. Wrong. Others think it’s about the content–make sure your marketing and branding strategies are on-point, and you can fill the box with just about anything. Wrong. Oh, you might find a limited amount of profit and success that way, but you’ll also find it fizzling out, and you’ll need to scramble to find the next big thing to saty in the game, virtually starting over from scratch. That’s not sustainability. That’s grit (which is a great quality, but it’s not sustainability).

Instead, “Know your *WHY*” dictates that you understand what you want your product or service to do, and you get committed to that outcome. For instance, your *WHY* may be that you want to help people come together and connect at a table together, share stories and build relationships, because people are feeling alone and disconnected. That’s your *WHY* To answer that, you might productize bottles of wine for people to share together, but what your selling is a social tool meant to provide a shared experience more than a mere product or service.

Also, to really be sustainable, your *WHY* can’t just be about something that’s meaningful to you in a vacuum. It needs to be responsive to or reflective of a cultural need. In this case, data show that people want to put money in experiences and they crave connection. So, your *WHY* of wanting to help people come together and connect at a table, share stories and build relationships answers the cultural need for interpersonal connection and shared experiences.

Now, here’s the thing, because your focus is on your *WHY* and not the singular product (e.g. wine), when you expand or scale and decide to add new products/services to your offerings, they needn’t be more wine. They merely have to be reflective of your *WHY* So, a social club, exotic tours and retreats, books designed for book clubs and other groups, film festivals and other events, etc. all can be positioned to answer your *WHY* keeping you relevant even if drinking wine goes out of style (Although, I dare not think of such a travesty!).

#startup #whystatement #scale #strategicplanning #thinkbig #business #entrepreneur #legacycompany

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THE HAZARDS OF THINKING TOO SMALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

THE HAZARDS OF THINKING TOO SMALL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

(aka: the selfish monologue in business = short term)

Philosophically, our only true ability in life is to generalize from oneself. The only true perception we will ever have is our own, even when we empathize or “see through another lens” it’s still our interpretation of it. So, self is always in play no matter how hard we may try to remove ourselves. That’s not a bad thing, but it can get complicated when you’re establishing a company.

Portrait of smiling businesswomanYou need to know your *WHY* but whether you consider that to be personal or universal will greatly affect the scale and ultimate sustainability of your business.

At first a company is but a seed, a beautiful idea. Then, we nurture it into existence. We feed it, water it, love it, even struggle with it, then it blooms! Still, we think of it as our own, but is that the best view for the long-term health of pure creation?

Maybe you grew an orchid — a boutique hybrid that is gorgeous and exclusive and very personal. That’s wonderful! But it’s not very SUSTAINABLE. It has a targeted quick lifespan that will be enjoyed by a very limited number of people who will get to experience it. Which is great if that’s the goal.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you’re growing a magestic cherry tree. Ahhh, that’s very different. Many entities have contributed to this successful incarnation and will soon come to rely on its existence. Sure, you planted the seed, maybe even started it in a small pot to keep it safe in its formative time, but soon it will be a critical part of a living ecosystem on the planet. Earthworms, bugs, microorganisms, squirrels, birds, owls, bats, raccoons, snakes, etc. will one day rely on its shelter, stature, fruit and other forms of its biology. Decay, sunlight, rain and dew will all contribute to it’s growth, though you may still contribute, keep it printed and healthy, it’s grown much larger than you. Frankly, it can even live without you, and that’s good. That was the point!

Using the analogy of growing these “plants” from seeds into maturity are similar in business. If you intend to stay small, as a rare flowing plant, enjoyed by an elite few, you’re allowed to be selfish with its mission — you’ll do no harm to it, and long-term sustainability that benefits many isn’t it’s goal. You’ll likely achieve success, then you’ll move on to your *next*

But, if you intend to build an empire or at least a mid-sized corporation that will be able to thrive, maybe as your legacy, long after you’re gone, you need a mission that isn’t about you but is all about the culture and ecosystem your establishing and sustaining. This is your *WHY* and it’s far bigger than *you*

You also need to ensure that this large sustainable *WHY* is something embraced by everyone and everything in your culture, from your workforce and investors to your customers and fans. The moment you think your *WHY* in this larger game is anything about you, you know you’re playing too small and threatening sustainability. Because if you think this majestic cherry tree is here to give you joy and shade, you’re not addressing the more important needs of the many contributing to it and relying on it. You’ll strangle it’s growth and prevent it from fulfilling its fullest potential for the greater good.

A small business can afford a selfish monologue for its *WHY* because its goal isn’t long-term sustainability for the masses. A larger company, intended for long-term sustainability, needs a more universal, cultural, ecosystem-oriented *WHY* to thrive and grow at the scale that is most suited to it.

#branding #scale #sustainability #corporation #mission #yourwhystatement #brandstory #startup

Freedom Possessed (from The Book of Carver)

Poor chap. He’s obviously here on a tropical vacation. I can smell the stress oozing out of his pours mixing with the faint smell of rum frombeach-bar the night before. It’s about 9am, and yes, we’re sitting at the bar—a quaint seaside bar in a Costa Rica fishing village around Potrero. His eyes poured over me in an attempt to size me up, and he was a handsome gringo from the States. Sandy, blonde, disheveled hair with a sturdy athletic build framing a small, plump belly that no doubt served as the aftermath of far too many craft beers. I’d say that he looked ordinary and familiar, except that over the three months that I have been living here, the familiarity of America had dimmed to the flickering of a candle—a memory that I can still recall, but only in glimpses.

 He began three seats over, and I pretended not to notice him much. Within the course of a full minute, he had maneuvered his way to the seat next to mine through a series of gestures, beginning with taking a lime out of the bar caddy to squeeze into his seltzer water, then shifting over to give room for his right leg, which sported the faint scar of a jellyfish sting.

 “Hi. I’m Carver,” he said, and reached his smooth hand over to offer mine a polite shake.

 I took his hand and cupped them in both of mine, rolled his palm upward and began tracing the lines with my finger. “You’re here on vacation. You had a terrible encounter with a sea creature when you first arrived, and you’re only hear for less than two weeks. You drank too much rum last night, but your leg is feeling much better.” I continued examining the palm of his hand.”

 “You read palms?”

 “No. I just don’t think you’ve ever done a hard day’s work in your life,” I winked at him and smiled. “I’m Veronica,” I said, as I smoothed over his hand and gave it back to him. He suddenly broke open with a smile that engulfed his entire face, and he lit up with beams of gorgeous energy. I’m certain I blushed, so I looked away to conceal my excitement.

 “Do you live here?” he asked.

 “I think so,” I said and turned back to him. “I’ve been here for three months. An expatriate of sorts. I don’t know how long I’ll stay. I’ll stay as long as I like.”

 “Wow. An extended vacation. Must be nice. I might have met a rich heiress, or just a freedom-loving beach bum who roams the world unencumbered. Intriguing. I want to know your story.”

 Oh, and what story is that?” I asked leaning into him slightly.

 “What is your take on being rich or freedom-loving?’ He looked down and his face dimmed as if he were being reminded of all that stress that had recently started melting away from him. “I could sure use a different perspective right now.”

“You really want to know. Want to know what I really think about all of that?”

 “You have no idea how badly I need to know,” he sad as he craned his neck over to glance into my eyes.

 I placed my hand gently on his shoulders and glided my fingers over them, “Well then I’ll tell you.’

 “About money. I prefer having money over not. I’ve had a whole lot of both. But, I’ve also learned that I prefer freedom over money. I used to think that money could buy freedom, and that it broadens our spectrum of choices. That’s only partially true. It matters where the money comes from. In looking drearily over the state of our political affairs back in the States, it’s clear the effects of having a bought government has on our liberties. The same can be said for most Americans. We are a bought society mostly, as most of our countrymen (and women) are owned by another corporation or set of persons for the better part of their day, nearly every day, with some temporary time off for good behavior. During the time we are at work—another party benefits far greater for our service than we do, and the majority of our actions, behaviors and even image is dictated by another. And, usually, the better we are at feeding the monster’s greed in some fashion: money or prestige or obedience, we are rewarded with a small share of money for ourselves and a few regulated freedoms.”

“Some smaller than others, and yes. I can’t disagree with any of that. But what can we do? We have bills, mortgages, responsibilities. We must obey,” he said, sitting up straight and taking a few gulps of his soda. “We’re in the machine—just a cog in a dysfunctional, evil wheel.”

 “Well, we don’t have to have all of those responsibilities. That’s the first part of the trap. We need shelter, food and clothing and a few dollars to help us get around and handle an emergency if needed. That’s it. It’s all the other shiny stuff that lures us in, and then we find ourselves trapped. Or perhaps we just think we’re trapped. In fact, they left the cage door open. We just didn’t realize it. We continued behaving like we were trapped, so they didn’t bother locking the door. They got lazy because so did we.

 “Okay, but if walking through that door really was easy, don’t you think more people would do it?” he said.

 “Most people never see the beast. One day, I saw the monster for what it was. It showed itself to me, and I spit on him. I took the most unimaginable leap into freedom that most people could not fathom, and I walked out into a sea of limitless uncertainty. It was easy for me to do—I just put the focus on “limitless” and used the power of uncertainty to fuel my adventure!”

 “Oh come on! I believe you’re good. But you didn’t escape clean like that. I know you didn’t,” he said.

 “I made a few small missteps along the way. At one point, I became “self-employed,” working on projects with dozens of individual clients, and it didn’t take me long to realize the horrible truth—that I had traded in one master for many! The only thing that I had taken control over was my earnings. I was still owned.”

 “I can see that. But, then what? That didn’t land you here, did it? You still need to pay for the shelter, food and clothing, right? Someone has to provide the cash for you to do it, and you are accountable to them for something, right?” he asked.

 “Sure, and that wasn’t the end of my mistakes, either. In my ennui, knowing that I didn’t want to be owned by these people either, I started doing more things I enjoyed for much lower pay, and my income and expenses were not even remotely in synch. A little of that had to do with me helping to support a sick family member… back to those emergencies I mentioned. So, I was in a whole, behind on most of my bills, and I needed to catch up. Along came an opportunity—one high-paying client. After three months there, and allowing another fluorescent-lighted cubicle littered hell to eat my life for a bit, I walked away.”

 “But,” I said, “I walked away with an epiphany. I learned that I could command a much higher rate of pay than I thought. My expenses had already been reduced to a minimum, combine that with a high rate of pay, and now I’ve found the balance that I needed. I take on just enough work, doing work that mostly I enjoy, for people I enjoy working with, to cover my expenses and a little more to pad the wallet for rainy days and my work can keep me roaming about the planet as I please. I can do what I do from any corner of the globe where I have internet access.”

 “And that mostly sums up my perspective on money and freedom and how I like to keep it balanced for me. Not to fulfill everyone’s dream—my dream.”

 Carver stood up, and rubbed his eyes, then he slowly began walking away back to his motel room.

 “Where are you going?” I asked.

 “I’m instructing my brother to sell my Porsche.” 

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