Blingle Bells
It's all about Innovation

The Technology Diet

Why Are Small Businesses Allergic to Strategy? - Part 1

by Guest Blogger, Lena WestLakshmi_lena_west_4

SIDEBAR: This week, I'm going to be posting on Monday (today) and on Friday, when the conclusion of this post will run.

Before I give you the answer to the question posed in the headline, I need to set the stage...

About two years ago, our company completely gave up on working with small businesses. Ok, not completely.  Allow me to explain...

I used to do consulting for some pretty heavy companies - MasterCard, Pitney Bowes, etc. But one of the things that peeved me about working with large corporations is that my team would put our blood, sweat and tears into a project and just like that *snap* some suit from the CEO suite would cancel the project - and we were expected to shift focus and pump that same energetic ferver into the next project. As if!

So, I started to think, Pinky & The Brain-style, about how I could take over the world if Icould just get small businesses to use strategies that were similar to what the big guns were using. So, with my head in the clouds and a seemingly great idea in my head, I started xynoMedia.  But, it was hard to get business owners who were more focused on making their mortgage payment (as they should be) to devote time to working 'on' the business and develop growth-oriented strategies - and technology strategy no less? Yeah, right! So, the inevitable happened...our email and phone lines were dripping with interest but our bank account...well, it needed a tad bit more emollience.

So, in typical Scorpio, all-or-nothing fashion, I met with my Advisors and I convinced them that swearing off working with small businesses was the right thing to do and we started our work with mid-sized companies that were hell bent on growth.  All was well in the land of Nod until I started to realize that working solely with mid-sized companies wasn't going to 'wag my tail' (thanks Kelli!).  I missed the adrenaline rush of small businesses.  I missed the shorter sales cycles. I missed the empassioned calls from clients who realized that we helped their companies grow by 20 and sometimes 50%!  I missed nursing a project from concept to completion in less than 6 months. But, what to do?  I had already (successfully) convinced my team that small businesses weren't the way to go.

So, one night, I started thinking...what do small businesses REALLY need to know about business and about technology that will get them over the blasted small business hump and push them to the next level?  Hell if I knew but, I was certain there had to be something.

It hit me one night in the shower. Small businesses needed a Technology Diet! They needed to know which technology they needed to 'eat', when they needed to 'eat' it and they needed to know how to 'prepare' it so that it met their company's nutritional goals. There was all sorts of small business technology information everywhere but none of it was all in one place.  And, none of it had a strategic approach that only a technology strategist (me) could give it. EUREKA! With shower cap firmly in place, I ran to my computer and registered http://www.TechnologyDiet.com. Through this program, I found way to get my small business 'fix' AND help business owners at the same time. Cool!

But, we knew that in order for the Technology Diet Program to be a success, we would have to answer the $250,000 'strategy allergy' question so that we could help the participants clear this block; thereby freeing them to focus totally on strategy during the 8 weeks of the Program.

So, why ARE small businesses allergic to strategy?

Hmmm...I'll let you know on Friday...but, true to form, the answers came to me in the shower...

(P.S. In the meantime, post your own answers to the question in the comments area and the person who gives the most complete, strategic answer by this Friday will be awarded a mystery prize worth a couple hundred bucks...oh, and their name with a link to their web site mentioned on this blog.)

Comments

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Lena L. West

Jean:

Thanks for that story! 'Tis true...and sad.

You start off going in one direction and you end up going in another. It all boils down to two things:

1) No strategy

-OR-

2) No tight implementation/execution plan to follow the strategy.

Ok, you've got one more day to get comments in for a chance to win the mystery prize.

Ciao for now,

Lena

-Lena
Guest Blogger, http://www.Lipsticking.com
Creator, http://www.TechnologyDiet.com
CEO, http://www.xynoMedia.com

Jean Terranova

An allergic reaction to strategy is the death knell for creative, unique companies. I recently noticed a retail store called "Travel" next to a travel agency. I love to travel, so I stopped in, hoping to find something fun and unique for my next trip. What I found instead were the same items available at high-end retail stores anywhere -- jewelry, scarves, wallets, etc. The fun, unique, travel related items were there too, but they were buried in all this other stuff. As I was browsing, the owner asked if I had any questions. I wanted to scream. Why didn't she ask what prompted me to stop into a store called "Travel." Was I taking a trip? Where was I going? Would I like to hear about her recent travels? Did I have a minute to look at photos of some far-away places she had visited?
I suspect this woman started with a great idea connected to a passion for travel, but failed to come up with a strategy to follow through. So she ended up taking the safe route, selling what everyone else is selling, and destroying her own vision (not to mention the only reason travel-lovers would stop into the store).
This happens all the time. Candy shop owners deciding that candy won't cut it, so it's time to sell teddy bears, teacups, soap, whatever someone might buy. This allergy to strategy is why so many of the same boring goods and services are available everywhere. Great ideas, without any strategy to follow through.

Lena L. West

Lyn:

Thanks for letting me know that we're not completely crazy and for sharing your experience.

Your solution to the 'strategy allergy' is very similar to our own. I'll share your post with the Advisory Board as further proof that I'm not completely nuts (sometimes I believe they think I am!).

Ok, guys (gals? I HATE that word), so far, Lyn is the only one to comment (and offer convincing 'strategy allergy' reasoning). If someone wants to give her a run for her money for the mystery prize, you've got until this Friday to do so otherwise I'll be forced to award Lyn the prize as the solo commenter!

And.....GO!

-Lena
Guest Blogger, http://www.Lipsticking
Creator, http://www.TechnologyDiet.com
CEO, http://www.xynoMedia.com

Lyn

you go, girl! you've hit the nail on the head. we have struggled with the same big vs small issues....the little guys are much more fun but the big fish pay our bills. after toiling in the salt mines for years, i believe the answer to the question of small biz strategy allergic reaction is that to the small firm, strategy is vapor, they can't touch and feel it...there are no guarantees that it will work. so it's a huge leap into the void, and one that 9 times out of 10, they are afraid to make. our solution is to take-on a limited number of small business clients, just for the fun, visibility and possible long-term return of it--but not to rely on that market for own solvency.

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