The Clockwork Principle- A 4 Part system to help you propel your business forward
You know, oftentimes in entrepreneurship we talk about ’the bigger picture’ and while that’s true, I like to think of business more in terms of moving gears in a clock.
When I think of picture, I think of a snapshot in time; a static image. However, business isn’t static, its dynamic; it’s always changing. That isn’t something that should worry you though; because that’s the nature of life in general, we’re always adjusting and adapting, and we’re probably not even aware of it half the time.
For your business to experience steady growth, you have to be intentional, consistent and strategic in your efforts.
I like using imagery to explain concepts, so I want you to to do a little visualization exercise with me:
Think of a traditional analog clock
Think of the second hand, the minute hand and the hour hand
Think of all the tiny little gears that fit together to move the hands forward in time.
I’ve found that businesses operate in a similar way, and I’ve developed a four part system that can help you fit the main ‘gears’ of your business together so that it’s in constant forward motion.
The four parts are :
There is the face of the clock which is the identity- this is your understanding of yourself and your client. It’s how you present yourself to the public and how the public perceives you. Then there are the three gears of operations, visibility and expansion that help your business to progress in a steady manner.
Operations are like the second hand, steadily running in the background and keeping everything organised.
Visibility is like the minute hand- moving periodically, reminding your client ever so often that you are there to help.
Expansion is like the hour hand, moving into place slowly, deliberately when all the other gears are aligned.
For the whole system to work, it needs an energy source and that would be you. The entrepreneur; the driving force behind the business.
And although we are talking about gears, the four activities should ideally take place in a particular order for the whole system to work. That way when everything is set in motion, it moves in sync.
Let’s now dive a little deeper into how these four elements actually come together to work for your business.
Part 1- The Identity Clock- Understanding your client and yourself
Have you ever seen any of these questions before?
- Who are you and why are you in business?
- What is your purpose?
- Who are you serving?
- How are you delivering that service to the customer (What’s your business model?)
It’s extremely important that you understand why you’re in business and who your ideal client is. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but it really is that important. It takes time to develop and refine who your ideal client is, but the good news is, the more you interact with them, the more you’ll find out about them. You need to know your client intimately so that you can create products and services that directly address their needs and solve the problems they are facing and so that every aspect of your business from the packaging to the lighting to the music and the customer service is designed to delight them.
Once you understand your purpose, who you’re serving it gets easier to figure out the best way to deliver your service to them. This is where your business model comes in.
For example, if you have a business targeting parents of newborns; let’s call it Parents SOS. You’ve identified your purpose as supporting new parents through the exciting yet challenging period as they acclimatise to parenthood.
You’ll need to develop a whole profile on these parents by considering things such as:
Their income level
Brands they purchase
Where they hang out
Online and offline sites they frequent
Their greatest desire
…And so on
When you know who you’re serving, all your products and services and the way you deliver it to your customer becomes much clearer.
Now that you’ve identified your purpose and developed an extensive client profile through your market research and experience interacting with customers over the years. You know the intimate details of your clients likes, dislikes and habits. The ideal clients of Parents SOS business may be parents who are pressed for time, so it follows that your business model may be one where its an online based delivery service because you want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for your client to access your product. Perhaps you offer a same day or overnight delivery service. It would be very helpful to do a business model canvas which gives you a comprehensive overview of your business. Have a look at how to do it here. (Let me know in the comments section if you’d like me to do a blog post or a video on developing your business model canvas).
Part 2 – Operations
Now remember the operations are the backbone (minute hand) of your business. This helps you get your product or service out to the customer.
We’re going to continue with our fictional Parents SOS business. So you’ve decide that you want your customers to benefit from the convenience of online delivery. But how does that function in reality?
This is where your operations come in. Parents SOS will have to consider all the aspects of creating, packaging and delivering the product to get it out to the customer.
They would have to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for their business. There must be a repeatable process to deliver the product and service to the customer.
A few other things to consider when standardizing and refining your operations are:
- What kind of promises do you make to the customer and how are you going to fulfil them?
- What’s your system for taking orders, recording them and fulfilling them?
- How do you track orders?
- What is your policy and system for handling complaints or returns?
- Based on complaints, what kinds of improvements can be made to avoid similar complaints in the future?
Added to this, you have to think about how you’re going to train new staff about your operating procedures to ensure that they maintain turnaround times and ensure that the quality of the product is the same every single time.
Part 3 – Visibility
This is important for one obvious reason; if nobody knows about your product and nobody buys it, then you don’t have a business. You need to be able to get in front of the right people at the right time by doing three things:
- Building awareness
- Developing relationships
- Driving the customer to take Action
And doing it consistently.
However I’ve seen many people make the mistake time and again of putting in a lot of effort getting a lot of visibility and then having nothing to show for it. You may know some of these people too; they have a lot of followers and little to no engagement or sales.
Everybody wants that ‘lucky break’; to be featured in Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post or the latest podcast. However, getting eyes on your business is only part of the equation. You need to have a strategy in place as to what happens after you get your customer’s attention. How will you continue to engage with them? How do you prove yourself to be an expert and a leader in your niche?
Let’s use our Parents SoS company again.
They want to become the go -to expert on all things parenting and use their high profile to be top of mind and in turn drive sales. Some things they could do to build their profile and maintain a relationship with their customer are by:
- Sharing their own blog posts about what being anew parentis like. They can use the shared challenge to build a community and strong emotional ties with their customer
- Hosting a podcast where they interview parents as well as industry experts as it relates to newborn care and parental care.
- Sharing some behind the scenes teasers and other insights into new products they’re developing
- Having live videos talking about a hot topic
- Posting motivational content
- Sharing curated content- content from other people and experts.
Then, when the time is right, and they have obtained that know, like and trust factor, then they can make a pitch for the sale.
Part 4- Expansion
Increasing your reach and your revenue channels.
Just as with your visibility, you must be very deliberate and intentional about who you want to have your product. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining a certain level of exclusivity
Everyone is not your customer. You do not have to sell to everybody.
I get that you want to be everywhere. But that’s not always a good thing. Hand in hand with visibility sometimes comes popularity, and if it’s not anticipated or managed well, it could cause your business to fail. Oftentimes you end up being unable to then inundated with orders that they are unable to fulfil. Do you remember the case of the company that made the Kate middleton engagement dress? They ended up going out of business because they weren’t equipped to handle the influx of orders. I once consulted on a company who, due to some great PR work, was able to land a deal with European buyers. However they didn’t adequately plan or budget for it. They realised after the fact that selling to this overseas buyer wasn’t profitable because it was costing them a lot to get their product to the buyer. Is it really worth it?
You have to consider all the factors that go into expanding:
- The additional costs, hours and manpower needed
- How you are going to deal with increased demand.
I will reiterate that expansion should be deliberate and executed after you have properly planned and prepared your business accordingly for it.
I hope this has given you some insight into how you can better organise your business so that you feel less stressed, overwhelmed and have greater clarity on putting the gears in place to make progress in your business. No one likes feeling stuck and I believe I’ve given you the keys to getting unstuck.
Until next time,