This week's Indie Business Podcast features my interview with Willie Pietersen, Professor of the Practice of Management at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and author of Strategic Learning: How to Be Smarter Than Your Competition and Turn Key Insights into Competitive Advantage (affiliate link).
The theme of this interview is that business success comes only when you understand your customers better than your competitors do, and when you act on that understanding with laser sharp focus. I highly recommend that you listen to the entire show at least once to absorb all of the golden nuggets Willie shared with me. Here are some of the highlights.
Understand your customers. To illustrate, Willie used the example of what he says is Google's mission statement: “We organize the world's information, and make it universally accessible and useful.” He also used the example of how Starbucks describes its business: “We're not in the coffee business serving people. We're in the people business serving coffee.”
In each case, notice the emphasis on the people being served, not on the product being offered. According to Willie, if you can wrap your vision around people more than products, you exponentially increase your chances of success in business.
- Focus wins. Willie said, “All things to all people is the original recipe for failure.” Can any statement be more pointed and eloquent?
- “Value proposition” is a meaningless catch phrase. Willie says you should banish “value proposition” from your vocabulary because it is an absolute, not a comparative, statement. In other words, if you offer value, so what? You're not the only one offering the same or similar value. Today, says Willie, it's all about winning propositions. It's about positioning the value you offer so it resonates so specifically with your customers that they can't help but choose you.
- The art of choosing. And speaking of choosing, Willie reminds us that, “A choice is not a choice until you've decided what you will not do.” This statement was so profound that I had to stop and repeat it to myself a few times as Willie explained what he meant. You'll definitely have to listen to the show to apply this to yourself. This is a critical point for Indies because our creativity can sometimes overtake our business sense, leading to exhaustion and then failure. As you choose what you will do, it's important to eliminate all of the time wasters that would render your choice meaningless.
- Prioritize with intention. “The longer your list of priorities, the smaller your chances of achieving any of them,” says Willie. These few words emphasize the importance of managing realistic priorities and making sure that your daily productivity flow is in alignment with your priorities. If you have too many priorities, you're doomed. If you have no priorities, you're doomed.
Behaving in accordance with a manageable collection of priorities is the only path to small business success.
If you're like me, you're ready to leave wherever it is you are, and fly to Columbia University to pursue a degree in business management with Willie (uhm, Professor Pietersen) in your pocket. But alas, it probably won't happen. This podcast is the next best thing, I assure you!
Listen to the Show
I'm excited to share that this show was sponsored by Essential Wholesale, offering the world's largest supply of naturally derived cosmetics bases in the world. You can follow Essential Wholesale's co-CEO, Kayla Fioravanti, on Twitter and on FaceBook for inspiring business, cosmetics and aromatherapy tips.
You can enjoy more of Willie's Indie-focused strategies to outsmart the competition at whichever location is most convenient for you:
- You can download it on iTunes. (It usually takes a few hours for Podpress to feed the show to iTunes so if you don't see it there when you read this post, please try again later.
- You can stream or download it at my radio show website.
- You can stay where you are and simply click on the arrow at the bottom of this post to listen right now!
Coming Up June 28!
On Monday at 1:00pm EST on Indie Business Radio, Neil Tepper, author of Prescriptions for Living a Creative Life: Simple Remedies for Common Maladies in Our 24/7 World
(affiliate link), discusses tips for finding the bridge to creativity that leads to greater power, passion, and purpose. Need some of that? I do!
Question: Which of Willie's quotes and tips resonates most with you?