Strategic Thinking – The #1 Key To Rainmaking

The first step to succeeding in business as a Rainmaker is to learn how to think strategically.

What I want to share with you here today is the cost that not thinking strategically.

In order to succeed, it’s essential to study those who have failed and thrived, as well as those who simply missed out on the opportunity.

Companies that missed out Kodak and Polaroid are two companies who missed chances to break out in their fields.

These two leaders in camera technology should have been the firsts to recognize and act on the opportunities of digital imaging. Because they sat on the sidelines rather than playing the game,

Sony was the breakout company that unveiled the very first digital camera. Undoubtedly, executives at Kodak and Polaroid have asked how many dollars their lack of strategic thinking cost them.

AT&T is another company that missed out. They completely missed the development of the cellular phone industry.

The startling component of their absence from the cellular field’s emergence is that AT&T actually invented cellular technology.

AT&T created the technology but it is Cisco’s technology that is driving 70% to 80% of the Internet’s backbone today.

AT&T had a huge opportunity to be in that position. Truly, they should be in that position; however, should doesn’t amount to much in the business world.

Due to AT&T’s negative paradigm, they weren’t thinking strategically. As a result, they gave up the opportunity. They could have been the ones to develop the hardware to drive the core the Internet but they missed out.

This mentality extends to virtually every type of business. Pharmaceutical companies like Merck and Pfizer completely missed out on the advent of biotechnology.

IBM missed out on the growth of personal computers. In a similar situation to AT&T, IBM was in the mainframe computer business but they completely missed out on the personal computer boom.

One would assume that the Swiss watch industry was responsible for the big spike in watch development and technology in watches but they weren’t. Remember Seiko digital watches?

The Japanese literally brought the Swiss industry to its knees with their innovative technology. It devastated the Swiss watch industry.

In 1997, the government auctioned off license positions for only two companies to provide satellite radio services.

The two companies who won, thereby obtaining the licenses were American Mobile Satellite, now known as XM, and CE Radio, now called Sirius.

Why didn’t Clear Channel and Viacom fight for licenses? At the time, both companies controlled close to 50% of the U.S. radio market. What were they thinking?

Instead, Clear Channel snapped up over 1,000 different radio stations while American Mobile Satellite and CE Radio were pursuing the satellite radio services licenses. Performance-wise, Clear Channel is not necessarily on a move up; it’s on a move down.

In the book industry, Barnes & Noble and Borders completely missed Amazon’s emergence.

With Amazon making it so easy to buy books online, Borders and Barnes & Noble’s traditional stores took a major hit.

Those companies should have been the ones to come up with the new method of doing business.

Since they didn’t, Amazon swooped in and took a major chunk from their bottom line.

In a similar manner, the major airlines did not foresee the extent of the digital move. As a result, they were completely devastated by Priceline.

Ford, GM and Chrysler displayed a major lack of strategy when they completely missed Toyota. The U.S. automobile industry underestimated the potential of these new, relatively affordable cars.

Perhaps at the time, the industry was right; Americans didn’t want these comparatively cheap cars at that precise moment. But that is incremental thinking and a perfect example of a situation in which it cost several companies dearly.

Instead, the industry allowed Toyota to develop its foothold in the U.S. market. As a result, Toyota was able to rapidly build up their technology, and now they have crushed the U.S. automobile industry.

All these examples are big companies and brands that got seriously hurt because of their lack of foresight. It’s no different for your company. If it can hurt the big guys, it can hurt any of us.

The preparation is the same for any size business—in order to succeed, strategic thinking must be in place.

So how many opportunities are you missing because you haven’t been properly trained to think strategically in business?

Chances are you are missing thousands of dollars… hundreds of thousands of dollars… perhaps even millions of dollars in revenue because your own current thinking is blinding you.

Smart business owners are expanding their strategic thinking skills by attending our Rainmaker Summit. Click here for full details and come join us to taking your mind from thinking like a business owner and start thinking like a Rainmaker… the king of all strategist!

The Face of Your Business

Your  is what others use to identify you.

You see it every day when you look in the mirror.

Your eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, and even your ears are all unique to you, serving to make up the exterior you show to the world.

Your business also has a face.

While it’s not as physically tangible as your personal face, it carries as much identifying importance.

The face of your business is designed and developed by four different elements: your products and services, your customers and users, your industry segments, and the different geographical areas you serve.

As you seek to mold your business’s face, there are a few questions you should consider.

  • What is driving you today?
  • What are your current products and services?
  • Who are your current customers?
  • What are your current industry segments?
  • What are the current geographic markets that you’re serving right now?

These questions are terribly important.

If you don’t understand what drives your company, you will likely drift from the course you should be on.

Strategy defines the rules

A strategy is essential for giving you a path to success.

While you must know what to do, knowing what not to do is just as important.

When we think about this in terms of our business’s lives, we can see how pervasive the issue is.

  • How many times have you bought something you had no reason to buy?
  • How often do you buy things you don’t end up using?
  • How many times do you find yourself trying to sell something that you had no business trying to sell?
  • How often do you attempt to sell to people outside your core market?
  • How often do you venture into places you shouldn’t be going?
  • Do you find that you are seduced or distracted by what other people are doing?
  • Do you chase new ideas because they’re interesting and exciting, or merely just popular?

The essential question

Oftentimes, we ask ourselves, “What is everybody doing?”

What everyone else is doing is irrelevant to your business.

The essential question to ask is, “What is going to help me accomplish the defined goals that are located in my strategic plan?”

Nobody wants to miss out on an opportunity.

There are all different kinds of software, seminars, programs, and home studies that relate to your business so you’ll never have a shortage of choices to distract you.

If you are unsure if you are on the right path I suggest you attend our Rainmaker Summit, and we will help you question the reason that you are pursuing a particular idea.

Match that idea with your strategic plan.

If it fits, continue on that path. If it doesn’t match up, you need to cease that pursuit and get back on track with your strategy.

One of the best things about a strategic plan is the simplicity it brings.

A lot of choices disappear because they’re irrelevant to your plan.

Remember, just because somebody puts an idea in front of you doesn’t mean you have to consider it.

You’ll find that your strategic plan clears away a lot of the irrelevant choices that clutter your mind.

With your strategic filter in place, you’ll know when a new idea fits with your plan.

Intuitively, it will feel right because it matches up with your business concept. In most cases, other essentials will accompany that intuition.

For example, the idea may have a buzz around it, or it may hold good pricing and stellar benefits for your company.

3M Company is a good example of a company that has had success in more than one arena.

They have their Post-It division, masking tape division, videotape division, and film division.

Even though they are completely different markets, they are all driven by their primary technology, polymer chemistry.

Despite the different divisions, they are all linked by their driving force.

Now, what would happen if they decided to get into the DVD business?

In order to achieve the same success in a new division, they would have to be true to that driving force.

If they merely tried to force a new division to fit into their company model, it would fail.

Even though DVDs seem related to videotape, it doesn’t fit with their driving force.

If they can’t use their polymer chemistry in it, there’s no need in pursuing it.

Even if something seems sexy, nice or even logical on the surface, if it doesn’t fit with your strategy and driving force, you absolutely should not do it.

This is why strategic thinking and driving forces are so important to your business.

They set the foundation. Once you have them in place, you can quickly separate the choices that are good for your business from those that aren’t.

Becoming an untouchable Rainmaker

When you know your company’s driving force, core competency and business edge, you become untouchable.

When you achieve that, you can start dominating in different areas.

You’ll find different pockets, such as reshaping competition areas.

David Glass, the former CEO of Wal-Mart, once said, “Our distribution facilities are the key to our success. If we do anything better than other folks, that’s it.”

Wal-Mart knows that their driving force is a distribution method, and they’ve mastered the areas of excellence there.

The former CEO knew where their competitive edge lay.

Because they mastered that core competency, there is not another company that would be able to get an edge on them.

Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx. He said, “The main difference between us and our competitors is that we have more capacity to track, trace and control items in the system.”

As far as driving forces and areas of excellence, FedEx is driven by a distribution method. One of the areas of excellence is their systems and they have mastered that.

There is no way anybody is going to be able to beat them in that game.

Your driving force will identify a lot for you. It will tell you what kind of products and services you should be developing.

It will dictate the kind of customers and users you should seek and the industry segments you should be pursuing.

Finally, it’ll lead you to the geographical areas you should be targeting.