Don’t Change Your Business; Redefine It

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Last week I was the guest on a radio show—two hours talking about the Beatles, which is heaven for me. One of the things we spent a great deal of time talking about was the Beatles’ incredible growth and evolution from album to album. I mean, in roughly five years these guys went from Please Please Me through Sgt. Pepper and the White album all the way to Abbey Road. That’s a growth curve that’s unprecedented and, so far, unequaled in popular music. So how does that apply to business—specifically, your business?

Take a look at where your business is today, and take a look at where it was five years ago. If your business is like most, both pictures look pretty much the same. Oh, sure, there’ve been some personnel changes, maybe a new coat of paint on the walls, but basically, things are the same. You’re offering roughly the same products and/or services to roughly the same people. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re running a family grocery store, your customers don’t want to walk in one day to find that you’re now a discount tire dealership. There’s something to be said for consistency, for establishing a brand, and for sticking to the work that you’re good at and passionate about. Change just for the sake of change isn’t always (in fact, is rarely) the right move.

The Beatles didn’t so much change rock and roll as they did redefine it. And therein lies the key. Let’s take that family grocery store. If all you want to do is change things you could simply move your inventory around every week; one week the soups are in aisle 7, the next week they’re mixed in with the produce. And, while some customers might appreciate the challenge, I’m guessing most would soon be looking for a new grocery store. But what if, rather than simply changing your store, you redefined what it means to be a grocery store? For example, what if you thought, “Hmmm…people come into grocery stores to buy food. What if we were to offer a daily, 15-minute cooking class showing people how to make a great, easy, and inexpensive meal using ingredients they can get right here?” What happens in the minds of your customers? They walk into the store and think, “Wow! I didn’t expect this! It’s still a grocery store, but it’s different and better!”

For those of you who are old enough to remember, wasn’t that your experience with each new Beatles album? (Except for the grocery store bit.) “Wow! I didn’t expect this! It’s still a rock album, but it’s different and better!”

So take a look at your business. Imagine it’s the year 2014—five years from now—and you’re looking back on your business as it is today. What’s changed? How have you redefined what it is that you do? What services, products, and value are you offering in 2014 that you aren’t today? What have you done to make your customers think, “Wow! I didn’t expect this! It’s still familiar, still comfortable, still the same brand—but it’s different and better!”

I’m in the speaking business, and in my business there’s an adage that says “You should be constantly improving, to the point that yesterday’s audience is cheated by today’s performance.” The Beatles tried to do that with each album. They redefined rock and roll. Now—how are you going to redefine your business?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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