Saturday, January 06, 2007

Racing to the top. Old industries, new excellence.

I've always believed it was wiser to start enterprises that sold their services or products to some kind of organization. It didn't matter what kind: non-profit, for profit, YMCAs, insurance companies, manufacturers, universities, Fortune 500 companies, Moose Lodges or international associations.

The main reason for this is economic survival. You can find organizations easier, faster and cheaper than enough retail sales customers can ever find you. Beyond that, I find it’s much more sustainable, personally and professionally to work with business-to-business type transactions.

I acknowledge that sales to consumers is getting easier (see post 12/22/06, Jimi Hendrix's guitar,, and you). However, I find that doing business on an enterprise-to-enterprise basis is a good way to build a foundation under your organization. Both sides are looking for reproducible results. You deliver value, they are glad to pay.

What’s nice is that everyone involved in this kind of commerce understands the relationship. They’re looking for solutions for their organization and you, hopefully have one. You, in turn, use this same model for developing your own support teams, both in-house and in your supply chain. Everyone works for the good of each other and, surprise, (while that ethic survives) it works!

I was going write a piece about how to choose the types of target market organizations to dance with. That led me to think about the continuous waxing and waning of the all the different kinds of industries and organizations we’ve dealt with over the years.

I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t much of a conclusion to come to, save one. The organizations you need to partner with are searching for smart new ideas and smart new growth. If you want to be sustainable, customers and market partners with this profile will get you there.

Organizations that are stuck in their ways are going to stay stuck in their ways. You don’t have enough time or money to convince them otherwise, trust me.

Organizations that are actively in the hunt and actively looking for smart new growth are by necessity looking for valuable new ideas. If you’ve got a sustainable solution for their organization, prove it. Then round up all similar organizations in that market and make them your target.

I don’t care if it takes a city or a county or a state or a planet to make up enough potential customers. That’s your market.

Your target market does not have to be drawn from the hottest, coolest organizations in today’s headlines. For most start ups and emerging enterprises you can’t afford to play very effectively in that space anyway.

It’s better to look to the under-glamorized stories. In an economy the size of the one that’s operating around this globe, there are a zillion niches, more or less.

Within them are many, many hopeful innovators, just like you, looking for solutions to bring their organizations and their industries into the new century.

I've saved this clip from Tom Peters' 10/19/06 posting on his web site, in support of this idea.

"I also questioned the need to depend on "leading edge" industries. Significant participation in such industries is a plus, no doubt—but once again, it is the excellence of enterprise that matters most. There is, as I see it, almost no such thing as an "old industry"—most every industry is ripe for new approaches."

Note that carefully, “… it is the excellence of enterprise that matters most.”

Dead on, as always, from Mr. Peters.

A good solution is a good solution no matter what realm of enterprise you work in. If you can reproducibly fix to a real problem, you’re launched.

If it’s in an out of the way industry or sector no one is touting, all the better.

Your next task is to find the enterprises of excellence within that field that understand their need to grow and continuously improve.

When you find them, there is nothing more sustainable than joining hands and racing to the top together.

Tom Peters web site

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