I want a guarantee, dammit!
We don’t like to hear it, but there are no guarantees in business. Most startups fail. An easy-to-follow guide that explained exactly how to run any business successfully would be nice.
Our first instinct in understanding how to define a successful business is to turn to the leaders, watch what they do, and emulate them. They are the ultimate business advisors. They are the most successful. They’ve clearly done something right.
We absorb what successful thought leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk and Guy Kawasaki have to say, only to realize that it conflicts with what successful companies are actually doing. Every time we think we get it, we spot somebody that’s breaking one of the cardinal rules, and excelling.
Successful companies succeed by making their own rules. It’s not too much of stretch to say that no two companies can follow the same set of rules in the same market space without one (or both) of them fading into obscurity.
We don’t need no steenkin’ rules!
Of course there are rules that apply to content marketing, customer service, B2B sales, branding, and marketing strategy. The trouble is that none of those rules applies everywhere, and many of them simply don’t apply to you. Nor should they, if you want to stand out.
Everyone wants to be #1; are your closest competitors emulating you (or vice versa)? If you disappeared today, would your customers really notice? Or would they simply reach out to a competitor, who they perceive as offering the same services or products?
In “Different” Youngme Moon discusses “The great big blur of similarity” that defines most businesses. By playing it safe, trying to conform to “The Rules”, and running with the herd, you are taking the road more travelled. Do you think playing by the rules is the safest path? Do you really want to put all that effort into running a “me too” company?
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself if you want to run a business that thrives. Once you realize what rules your competitors are playing by, you can define your own set of rules, and find your space in the marketplace.
If you can’t be the Apple of your industry, who could you be? How are you identifying and defining your rules?