Those flogging business coaching to the owners of medium sized businesses seem to focus on one of the oldest sales techniques in the book, the ‘Before & After’ pitch.
Describe the current situation, and make it as down and dirty as possible, then describe the new world, the joy of the state achieved by the application of their great coaching/technology/process, whatever it is they are selling.
No mention of the challenge in the middle, abracadabra, all is well, just $109/month, less than the cost of coffee and a roll every day and you are on your way to the ‘laptop lifestyle’.
Tangled up in the bullshit, never articulated, at least to my hearing is a very valid notion, that of ‘Critical Mass’.
The critical mass in a nuclear reaction is the point at which the process becomes self- sustaining. It may take only a nanosecond, but there is that critical point, below which the process is not self-sustaining, and past which, it is.
At what point does a cloud, which is just an accumulation of moisture, suddenly change from being a cloud to dropping rain?
For small business owners, the point of critical mass, from where the business is self-sustaining, is usually that point from where they can take time out of the business, and enjoy the financial rewards of success. The road to that point will be different in every case, and most in my experience never actually consider what the elements of critical mass may be in their particular business, and how they might influence them.
I think it might be about how ‘sticky’ you can become.
‘Sticky’ is not a term often seen in any form of business writing, it is more usual in kids books, but how is this for a definition:
‘Stickiness’ in business is the function of: Share of Wallet X Propensity of customers to advocate for you.
The stickier you are, the more likely you will be to have your customers buy from you everything you can reasonably provide, and then go one step further and tell their friends, peers, and wider networks.
If you are not sticky enough, you will be sub self-sustaining, but pass that sticky test, and the business will sustain itself, with some ongoing tweaking, which is different from the 80 hour weeks most small business owners put in, to make a living, but often not have a life.
Cartoon credit: Hugh McLeod and Gapingvoid.com.