Tom Watson created the colossus that is IBM. Have you ever studied how Tom did it?
For starters, he envisioned how IBM would look before he began making moves and changes. He spent a great deal of time trying to understand the role that IBM would play in the world of business and imagined how that would look.
No, It’s not that a new company should have a clear understanding and vision of what their workforce looks like before it is created, although he did create that as well. Tom Watson’s ideas on what the “IBM Man” would look like is still in use today – the dark suit and the white shirt has become THE business uniform standard.
It is simply this: There is no difference between a successful big business and a successful small business. Tom Watson realized that if he could create the plan for IBM and put it into action as a fully realized company, then the overall size of the entity would never matter, because the systems never needed to be changed, no matter how big “Big Blue” got.
My question for you – does your company look like a successful large business? If it doesn’t, then you aren’t running a successful small business.
Think about it – every single component that Watson put into place to create IBM was about creating the systems to sell business equipment, Not just selling business equipment.
The success of IBM when Watson took over in the Depression was predicated on designing and implementing the one thing that most business owners forget to ever put in place as they open their company up for business – the systems to support it.
In all this, you may find it fashionable to present yourself as the underdog or the new kid on the block who is looking to make a name for themselves and their company. It’s called differentiation.
Go ahead! Differentiate away! Make the customer experience so radically different that it helps your client acquisition, drives your lead generation, and makes client fulfillment easy and fast … but while you do that, have the end goal of a replicable system in mind, so that any employee in your business can do it without you.
Today, it’s too easy to get caught up in the “trendiness” of online sales, of electronic gadgetry to create sales, and a sort of edginess on the part of the company to differentiate themselves from others.
In and of itself, that is all fine and well and good, but ask yourself this – “is it sustainable”, or is it really a selling point? When your market ceases to be local or regional and your growth demands you play on the world stage, can you scale the model? In short, is your “edgy” pitch something that you, as the CEO of a growing business, can actually pull off? Ask yourself, is your business a big company that happens to be small right now or is it a small company that can never hope to be big? Trendy gadgets and edgy pitches inevitably get replaced due to the fickle nature of the buying public, but a business designed from the start to play big has the ability to weather trends and redirect itself to venues and products that its customers want and need.
You may need to play small, but plan big.
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