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By: Aaron | December 28, 2017

Grow Business Through Alternative Three Lenses

When we get into the heat of business, it is straightforward to put your nose to the grindstone and look solely at hard data. What is our cost, how much are we selling, what is our return on sales? When you become a number focused business, you will lose focus on the bigger picture of opportunities facing your business. This can lead to a slow death spiral and indeed will not promote future growth.

For those of us who are not content with our current market share and are looking for ways to continue to grow our business, you need to step back from the grindstone. Looking at your business through the lens of these three 'soft' ideas below, you will find many ways to grow your business and compound your gains in ways that have nothing to do with hard numbers.

Time is the Ultimate Non-Renewable Resource

Time - The Ultimate Non-Renewable Resource

One thing we all have in common is that we are inevitably running out of time. As compared to all other resources, this is the one that cannot be regenerated. If you lose money, you can always make more. If you need water or food, you can search it out. If we run out of fossil fuels, we just need to wait a few million years to get more. Perhaps not practical, but still renewable.

With this in mind, we still find ways to procrastinate. Until someone figures out how to manipulate the space-time continuum, and then they make it cost effective, most of us will never be able to go back in time or create more time for us. As such we need to find ways to use time more efficiently and responsibly. There are many different ways to do this.

Perhaps the single most important way is to actually get to work. Curb your social media use, quit calling more and more meetings to discuss issues beyond necessity, and set time limits. We all remember that in school if we had one week to finish a paper or one month, we still got it done the night before it was due. Set a time limit, preferably an unrealistically short one, and stick to it. It doesn't have to be perfect; it just needs to be done.

Once you get to work and focus on what you need to do, you'll quickly realize there is SO much to do, and not enough time to get it done. When you acknowledge that this is more than you can manage, you'll have to prioritize tasks that provide the highest returns of your time. Realizing that personally doing data entry for your business is not the most efficient use of your time opens the door to outsourcing simple tasks.  Outsourcing can come from technology improvements such as using voice dictation or buying better, faster machines to do repetitive tasks, or through hiring more hands or using freelance services. Yes, you too could design the next business card for your company over the course of many hours, or you could pay someone a hundred dollars to come up with a fantastic (and good enough) design, print and ship them to you more quickly.

Here's an example in real time: this article I am writing. First, I am dedicated to it at the moment with minimal distractions around me and have a set deadline to complete it before I need to move on to the next task today. Single-tasking means I will finish it quickly, and effectively use my time. Second, I am using technology to use my time more efficiently. In this case, Grammarly to edit this as I go to minimize the time needed to edit it later. Third, I will outsource the final copy edit to someone else so I, the author, can save time drafting more work and not nitpicking what I meant to say with what was written.

Value is greater than Cash

Value is Greater than Cash

Everybody continues to say Cash is King, and in some context, that is always going to be the case. For example, I will always put an intrinsic value on having cash on hand as opposed to paying off a significant debt and leaving you with no emergency fund, though that is another conversation.

However, businesses that put too much emphasis on actual dollars are destined to fail. Instead of merely focusing on hard measures such as cost and revenue, enterprises need to also give particular attention to value creation and what that can do for them. The old paradigm says that you do not give things away for free. If you want to share information, charge an hourly rate for it. Or write a book and charge for it. However, with the advent of the internet and the proliferation of information, businesses that want to continue to succeed have to shift and find ways to obtain value when they can no longer charge for certain services. Blogging advice to drive internet searches is one such example, but how can you apply this to other aspects of your business?

If you are a seller of goods, consider the value you can obtain by giving away your product at cost to a large consumer. If you are a coffee seller, for example, offer to sell your product to a local hotel at your cost. What madness is this? Giving away product for no return? There is a value in this despite no cash. If you can obtain this large contract, you should be able to get a volume discount on your product which in turn, means you will save on cost, and still turn a profit. Further, broker the hotel deal in such a way that your packaging is prevalent to the guests that consume it. Now you have also created a marketing campaign that costs you nothing. If just a handful of those guests decide to purchase your coffee, at the full list price, then you will gain market share as well as increase your margins, because the hotel's volume has given you a cost discount. Focusing on value and not cash in this example, can lead to growing your business and in turn, cash follows.

In another example, while writing this article is giving away some of my best advice for free, I am still ultimately going to come ahead. How? By sharing my best information, I am creating value for others (hopefully you!). While I will not receive cash for this post, I am still going to find value by probably building credibility with my audience, which will, in turn, lead to future consulting opportunities. Further, I am getting additional value by optimizing my SEO (search engine optimization) and hopefully driving more traffic to the website. Ultimately, this should expand my audience and lead to future opportunities. Cash has no part in this post, but I am creating value for my consumer and myself. If you have someone on your team that wants more analytical support for this activity, write off the activity as website optimization, SEO or marketing.

Relationships Launch Business

Relationships Grow Business

It's not what you know, but who you know that matters. We hear that time and again. If you ask around the office, you will be surprised to find out how many employees are there not because they alone had the merits, but because they knew someone. Other cliches to tie into this are: don't burn your bridges, and it's a small world. While we roll our eyes at this and may ignore it, these same lessons will always come back to us, because they are true.

In the sales world, people that focus on making the sale may succeed to sell one used car, but people that focus on building a relationship will sell a used car to the same family again in the future. Making a relationship with your customers that is more meaningful than a quick sale will lead to future opportunities. Think back to a good experience you had in a store and will return because of it.

However, in terms of growing your business, this same lesson can be applied in a broader perspective. Building meaningful relationships with your vendors, clients, and business service providers has the ability to grow your business much more significantly than if you only transact business like you would with an ATM.

If you outsource your accounting, for example, do you simply mail in your information to the CPA and expect it to be done, or do you take the time to foster a relationship with them? Mailing it in will ultimately accomplish your means of getting the tax return done, and maybe a productive use of your time, However, the CPA will also just do the minimum necessary for you and mail it back, them move on to the next client.

If you take the time to build a relationship with them, however,  you just may find greater success in your own business. Building a relationship in which both parties genuinely care about each other will benefit you in multiple ways. For one, the CPA may take some extra time to ask pertinent questions which will save you more money. They'll be more likely to 'forget' to charge you for that phone call where you discussed family and the holidays and slipped in a question about your return.

Going even further, can you build the relationship into a partnership? Promoting your CPA to your friends and other businesses, will likely lead to reciprocal response and lead them to promote your business. Finding ways to benefit each other, you may be able to strike a deal in which you both benefit. John Deere is known for its green tractors. However, did you know that Fisher Valves uses the same exact green paint? The owners of these entirely different companies partnered together to obtain a volume discount on their paint and combine their purchases to cut their costs. What other group can you work with to gain mutual benefits and maintain the relationship because you do not compete for the same clientele?

Compounding for Exponential Opportunity

Compound Results to Branch New Opportunities

Once you have begun to apply these three trains of thought together, you will find that when put together, they lead to exponential opportunity. How is this so?

Let's again use this post as an example and see how each concept can be compounded by itself.

I am focusing my efforts on this post to get it done in a timely fashion while utilizing tools to make me more efficient as I go. However, I can also receive compounded benefits if I use a concept I like to draw from Billards, the combination shot. In one stroke, I am not just completing my goal of writing this article and sinking one ball in the pocket, but I am also compounding my effort to bank the other balls on the table to set up future opportunities. I am also using this content, in particular, to help me outline an upcoming speaking engagement, adding more content to the website, generating content for a potential book, building credibility and so much more.

Similarly, because I am focused on value and not cash, I can get multiple returns for this activity. As I create more and more articles, I am still getting no cash for the effort of any single post, but as a compilation of doing this activity and generating eventually hundreds of posts, I receive value not only in expanding my reach but in practice and mastering this skill. Mastery of skills is a value in itself that can translate into future opportunities.

I am also focused on relationships here. Instead of writing from a cold and thoroughly professional perspective, I am filling this with voice and trying to relate to you and build a relationship that will encourage you to use these traits and find success in your frontiers. If you are successful, I hope that you will reach out and will build a stronger relationship. But, long-term, compounding that relationship as referrals and develop additional relationships with people in the future. One connection may lead to three new ones, which lead to three more each, and on it goes benefiting all that are involved.

When you compound these independent concepts, you will quickly find that they compliment each other quite well, and can further compound your returns and grow your business exponentially. Ultimately, maximizing my time opens me up to more creating more value. Creating more value for others will build relationships. Building more relationships can save more time by partnering with people that can streamline my processes, cut down sales cycle, and bring more opportunities to my attention as opposed to taking time to find them.

What does this look like for your business?

Just like all authors have their voice, each business executes differently. Take time with your organization or advisors to see how you can apply these three concepts to your own business. To receive the most value from this conversation, make sure you include people that are both internal to the organization and know it well as well as outsiders with different perspectives. This will allow you to have out of the box ideas as well as challenge 'tried and true' conventions that you have been operating with.  When begin looking at all opportunities through these lenses and compound them, you too will see Better Results.

Do you have anything to add? Or questions specifically for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on : July 30, 2018

Nice content and full of information.

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