Everything works … until it doesn’t

Business advice with Neil Franklin

I have developed my business philosophy by understanding the above statement – I learned about this from my  martial arts instructor who was telling me about the futility of learning set, prearranged moves, when it comes down to protecting yourself and the fact that every technique you have at your disposal will work…   until it doesn’t.

    That enabled me to have a set of “core” techniques that I could rely on, but that I could never take for granted.

Those techniques would be drilled relentlessly and always with the expectation that they were going to fail one day, which is why they are regularly pressure tested, to see if they hold up in the real world.

If they don’t, they are discarded.

The world of combat is brutal, and you must prepare and train diligently for the unexpected…it’s exactly the same in business.

Take the diet and weight loss industry as an example – it is worth billions and every year, especially around January after a very nice Christmas and New Year, people flock to the gyms and embark on yet another eating plan that will guarantee an amount of weight loss, in a specific time.

Yet, by March, many of those memberships lapse and the odd burger or three are creeping back into the diet, with the inevitable regaining of every pound of weight that was taken off!

Yet each year, you see exactly the same process repeat itself.

Every diet you can mention will work…to a point and that is until the body adapts to it and then becomes more efficient at burning fuel, so then you reach a plateau, which you have to break either by continually reducing the amount you eat, increasing the amount of energy you burn, or both.

As a competitive Olympic weightlifter, martial artist and someone who has always struggled with losing weight, I have tried every diet out there and consulted with some of the world’s top nutritionists to find the answers to the problem and it always comes back to:

Eat less and/or burn more, plus learn to adapt to your newly sculpted body – you cannot beat the laws of thermodynamics and you will drive yourself insane if you try…plus spend a small fortune on the latest fad concepts and ideas along the way.

But the key is the word “adapt” and realizing that you have to now take a different attitude with your new body.

Every day, I see people advertising the latest sales accelerator programs, complex marketing funnels that promise to generate millions of pounds of sales and a host of tech solutions that promise to make life easier and dramatically improve efficiency…and so on.

Then there are the experts and gurus who spend money on social media advertising touting their latest “system” of making money and in many cases, with a reduced amount of effort and always with a luxury lifestyle.

Lured by the prospect of making more money and living the life of their dreams, many entrepreneurs are spending huge sums of money and time buying and implementing  technology, systems and processes that will simply not stand the test of time.

And on hiring gurus, consultants, coaches, and mentors who simply don’t have enough experience and are too one-dimensional — unable to connect the dots.

On the other side of the fence there are many entrepreneurs trying to break into the business world through inventing/designing tech solutions and raising huge sums of money to do so – and again, many will not succeed, or fail at an early stage.

The problem is not technology and not the gurus – there are many fantastic tech solutions that have benefitted the business world immensely and also some great coaches who are able to bring out the best in their clients.

It’s the over-reliance on both…especially in a world that is increasingly becoming tech dominant and maybe it’s time to turn the tide!

One of my core business principles, which has become more important in my capacity as a coach and mentor is to strip a business down to its component parts, make sure the processes and procedures are simple and robust, then add the right technology to it where needed.

I’ll give you a real example in a real estate business I am working with in the US.

They are a full-service brokerage handling everything from apartment rentals to multi-million-dollar commercial real estate deals and there is an abundance of technology available to help them.

They have signed up to the essential platforms that are needed in the industry today, so they have covered the basics, but the initial service offering was based on automating as many parts of the process as possible, beginning initially with the apartment locating division.

Sales funnels were created, the new CRM system was implemented, and customers could interact with the brokerage through a text messaging system, that would allow them to have the minimum disruption to their already time-starved day!

Those were the thoughts anyway and the launch of the business almost two years ago, went well…but no-where near to the financial expectations of the founder.

We stripped the business down to the bare components and began with the apartment locating division – it was clear that despite the tech platforms that allowed clients to view all of the available apartments to rent, in any specific area the process was seriously inefficient because the chances of a particular apartment being available, once selected from the online list, were slim.

This was due to the ever-increasing demand for rental apartments and the fact that prices would fluctuate almost daily, in relation to that demand.

And the common practice in the industry was to allow the clients to attend viewings of the apartments they had selected, on their own, with fees being earned once the applicants had moved into their new apartment.

We flipped the business on its head and offered a more personalized service where we would walk each client through the process, including accompanying them on each tour (viewing) and then continuing through the application process until they were given a moving-in date.

This seems obvious to the traditional entrepreneurs out there reading this, but to an Internet era driven entrepreneur, I might as well be talking a different language!

The founder and his team were utterly exhausted from the increased workload, but extremely happy with the financial results and here’s the next part – when the founder pitched his offering, to one of the world’s largest financial institutions, to help their key employees relocate to the area, he ended up with a partnership agreement which resulted in a steady influx of affluent clients!

They loved the concept of a personalized service.

You can get a totally fresh view of your business when you strip it back to the bone and also you will be far more cost-conscious after the process – you can then find out exactly what’s working and remove what is not.

Here are some actionable points:

Strip down your business model and re-engineer it regularly – you may end up with exactly the same business as you have right now, but at least you are taking the time and effort to check exactly what you are offering and what you are doing.

Pricing is critical – look at your pricing model and see if you can offer “more for less.” This is not as unrealistic as it seems as unless you are at the luxury end of the market, you are at the mercy of the market, and it will always take you to where it needs to be and not necessarily where you want it to be. Remember that all customers want the best possible product and/or service at the cheapest price (in their minds anyway).

– Never add tech for the sake of it – make sure that any technology purchase will have a direct and tangible benefit to your end customers.

– Don’t’ be frightened to pivot – when you are constantly looking at, and evaluating your business, you will uncover a ton of other opportunities. You may just uncover something better.

Finally, remember the words – “everything works until it doesn’t.”

And, don’t forget to keep things simple!

















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