I think finding your purpose in business is important, as is deciding what kind of leader you want to be and then putting yourself on a personal quest of continued learning.
I believe that it is the only way that we grow as individuals. Anyone that thinks they have learned everything that they need to know in life is foolish. We live in a time and age where change is dynamic and it is exponentially happening faster and faster.
It becomes vital to know exactly who you are and why you want to be that person. Every person finds this out in different ways. Personally, I have always prospered from listening to what other people have to say. I enjoy reading and I understand how fundamental it is in learning, but I have always taken the words of people I respect and regard closely with much more gravity than anything that has ever come from a book.
One of the most compelling things that I have heard from anyone in years was from a friend of mine who told me in a very purposeful tone, “Decide what you are going to be and be it.” It might be simplistic, but it is also extremely virtuous and quite humbling as a reminder that sits at the back of your mind. For me, it also means that you take that attitude into your business because you see a lot of companies go through, what is seemingly, an identity crisis which is usually stemming from the people who lead them.
It is very easy to try and fall into the ploy of wanting to be a company that tries to be everything to everyone. But companies that champion that ability are generally multinational juggernauts and, as a smaller business, it is very hard to even begin to compete with them.
This is where this gripping advice comes into play, and I will repeat it because it is very clear within itself, “Decide what you are going to be and be it.” If you have made a name for yourself selling hotdogs, don’t go out and add hamburgers and tacos to your menu as well. Sure, you may have attracted a new market of hamburger and taco lovers, but you might have also lost loyalty from the hotdog clientele that helped you get to your current position. And you should be catering to that latter group of people because they are, quite frankly, the reason that you are in business (yes, “quite frankly” was a hotdog pun, thank you for noticing).
You need to keep that in mind and come up with ways that will make your customers want to continue their relationship with you. You should aim to create the best hotdog on the planet, figure out what actually goes into making it and what will make your customer want to keep buying it. You have already decided what you wanted to be, listening to your devoted clients is a crucial part of working out how you are going to “be it” and how you will be the absolute best at being “it”.
I also think it is very important to not cross lines when it comes to wanting to be the best, it is so often confused with wanting to be the biggest or the most attractive. The overall underlying point is that you want to be the best in your customer’s eyes, they are the people that you want to impress.
At ESG, our hotdog is recycled paper. We don’t sell virgin paper because we don’t want to offer an alternative, and we are passionate about recycling and the environment. We sell recycled paper and proprietary dispensing systems, that is what we do and that is what we want to be the best at. There is no harm in taking a cursory glance at your competitor’s hotdog every so often, you would be silly not to do that, but as long as your hotdog is your top priority, then you are definitely on the right path to being exactly what you want to be.
So my advice, at the end of this rant about hotdogs, is that you should sit down with your team, decide exactly what it is that you want to do, figure out how you can become it and respectively leave the hamburger and taco sales to the red haired clown and the Chihuahua with a cheesy Mexican accent.