Niche Companies

In business, the how matters, of course, but the why matters just as much. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? To share your knowledge? To build something that leaves a legacy? To make a good income to give yourself and your family financial security and breathing room? To have fun with a creative outlet? To create community? All of these are great reasons for building a business and becoming an influencer. Notice what isn't on the list? With entrepreneurship becoming so trendy, a lot of people are calling themselves entrepreneurs who really aren't. They should call themselves wantrepreneurs instead, and I wish they'd do this before they ruin the reputation of real entrepreneurs the same way unscrupulous brokers ruined how some feel about real estate agents or the way ambulance chasers and media hounds tarnished our opinion of lawyers. By definition, an influencer engenders positive word of mouth. If you don't care enough to induce others to rave about you, all you're doing is holding a spot for someone who really does care, the one who will waltz in and displace you. Here are some questions for you to ask yourself: Does your offering unlock exceptional utility? Is there a compelling reason for the target mass of people to buy it? If not, park the idea, or rethink it until you reach an affirmative answer.

Remember, a company does not want to rely solely on price to create demand. Is your offering priced to attract the mass of target buyers so that they have a compelling ability to pay for your offering? If it is not, they cannot buy it. Nor will the offering create irresistible market buzz. These first two steps address the revenue side of a company's business model. They ensure that you create a leap in net buyer value, where net buyer value equals the utility buyers receive minus the price they pay for it. Can you produce your offering at the target cost and still earn a healthy profit margin? You should not let costs drive prices. Nor should you scale down utility because high costs block your ability to profit at the strategic price. Is your offering priced to attract the mass of target buyers from the start so that they have a compelling ability to pay for it? When exceptional utility is combined with strategic pricing, imitation is discouraged. Failure to adequately address the concerns of employees about the impact of a new business idea on their work and livelihoods can be expensive. Companies should work with employees to find ways of defusing the threats so that everyone in the company wins, despite shifts in people's roles, responsibilities, and rewards. Potentially even more damaging than employee disaffection is the resistance of partners who fear that their revenue streams or market positions are threatened by a new business idea. Opposition to a new business idea can also spread to the general public, especially if the idea threatens established social or political norms. The effects can be dire.

The question is, How do you bring an organization with you to execute this strategy, even though it often represents a significant departure from the past? The challenge of execution exists, of course, for any strategy. Conventional wisdom asserts that the greater the change, the greater the resources and time you will need to bring about results. The key to tipping point leadership is concentration, not diffusion. Hence, contrary to conventional wisdom, mounting a massive challenge is not about putting forth an equally massive response where performance gains are achieved by proportional investments in time and resources. Rather, it is about conserving resources and cutting time by focusing on identifying and then leveraging the factors of disproportionate influence in an organization. On getting the maximum bang out of each buck of resources? On motivating key players to aggressively move forward with change? And on knocking down political roadblocks that often trip up even the best strategies? They can do this fast and at low cost. There are a scary number of people who say they're starting their business because they want to make the world a better place yet reveal themselves as frauds and hypocrites in answering one or two direct questions about their model. There are also a scary number of people who are so cynical that they can't believe anyone does anything without expecting something in return. I acknowledge the duality of human nature, including my own. At the same time, I love how it feels to make a positive impact on people's lives, which means I do what I do so I can help other entrepreneurs succeed.