“Give the razor away and make your money off of the razor blades” sounds like a good business strategy, doesn’t it? Perhaps Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. thought so when they developed the Keurig© single-serve coffee makers which made a huge impact on the coffee distribution market. They recognized that a segment of the coffee drinkers wanted to be able to conveniently get a fresh cup of coffee when the mood struck them. They differentiated themselves by developing a single cup coffee maker that used a patented container with enough coffee grounds for that one cup. So simple!
Southwest Airlines also made a big impact on their market by being different. They took complexity and cost out of flying by selling tickets at the gate obviating the need of paying travel agents. They also eliminated in-flight services like providing food, and minimizing any baggage handling services. Convenience and simplicity won out over frills.
IKEA differentiated itself in the home furnishing business by targeting on the young working family with children. Their stores are open for extended hours and customers can browse at their leisure through displays of products arranged as they might be at home. Customers note the items they wish to purchase, pay for them, and pick them up themselves in the warehouse portion of the store. They assemble them at home and save. Again, differentiation and simplicity are keys to the strategy.
So, what can you learn from this? First, know your self and your business. What Can You Do Well that will set you apart from the masses? At what are you the best, what is your competitive advantage, and is it sustainable? Do you have special talents or can they be procured or attained? You can’t be the best at everything so you need to focus on a market niche in which you can dominate, at least be number one or two in your niche. Time, money, and efforts should be coordinated and focused on this object.
Second, What Provides Emotional Satisfaction? Certainly you should look forward to going to your home and family at the end of the day, but your work should be so enjoyable that you are excited to get back to it in the morning. What provides you with pride in your performance? What provides fulfillment that you are doing something worthwhile? Does your present position in your business lead to your ultimate goal in your career?
Third, What Provides Financial Satisfaction? Money is not always a motivator, in fact, it can be a de-motivator, but it must be considered and planned for. In other words is it worth it? It is valuable, in my opinion, a must to develop a profit and loss statement for your business or yourself. It should detail all revenue and expenses by category for the next year by month. Then update it each month and add a month on the end so you always have a running twelve months looking forward at your actual vs. planned, and take action as needed. Ensure that not only your present financial needs are being satisfied, but also that you are on plan to meet your retirement financial needs.
Finding your niche in your business market or career that satisfies your emotional and financial needs is easier said than done. But, it is critical to your happiness. Finding the strategic position for your business or career is not obvious. It requires creativity and insight that comes about through thinking and effort.