Day one of my business reinvention process proved to be very productive.
The first question I asked myself is, “How much do I want to change things?” I spent about four hours “meditating” on this while sitting in the hot tub (ok, I was not in the hot tub for four straight hours).
Degrees to Change
In my Goal-Free Living book, I talk about the concept of “using a compass, not a map.” Therefore, I decided to think through my change in terms of compass settings.
I realized a few things:
0º – 5º: No company that stays in business is ever on a zero degree turn. Some innovation must be taking place. Most companies tend to track on a 5 degree turn. They innovate more incrementally. Although these changes can add up over time, there are no radical shifts.
180º: A 180 degree turn – basically throwing everything away – is not an option.
90º: What about a 90 degree turn? This would involve new products for new markets. Based on my experience, even this would be too much change. Back in 2006, Wiley published Goal-Free Living. Although the book received wide acclaim and was even the cover story in O, The Oprah Magazine, it actually hurt my business. My core buyers were corporate innovators. A “self-help” book which was endorsed by Oprah lessened my credibility in their eyes. In fact, before going on stage once, a client said to me, “If you mention Oprah, we will not pay you.” Hmm, that explains a downturn in my business after the publication of that book.
30º – 45º: What I quickly realized was that I need to develop a business model that meets the needs of my current clients yet allows me to branch into new markets. I won’t restrict how I make money. The business model shift can be radical. But I need to make sure that whatever I do, it does not alienate my current audience. I do not want a repeat of 2006.
What’s interesting is that I had expected to go more radical – maybe another 90º turn. My gut keeps pulling me towards a more “mass market” audience and away from the corporate world. I love speaking about things that are more personal in nature and touch the lives of individuals. But I am convinced that now is not the right time. I need to leverage what I have.
And leverage is the key word.
Right now, with the exception of book royalties, I only make money when I am giving a speech, conducting a workshop, or advising a client. In other words, I only make money when I am investing my time. But if I can leverage my intellectual property properly, my income is not limited by the number of hours in a day.
This led me to my problem statement…
The Challenge Defined
While innovating, I preach that the first step is to “define the challenge.” This serves as your problem/opportunity statement. I am known for frequently quoting Einstein, who reputedly said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem, and one minute finding solutions.”
At first, my challenge was a bit too broad: “How can I reinvent my business?” Although this allowed me to “think outside the box,” it gave me no focus and actually limited my ability to innovate (watch my video on this).
Therefore, once I was clear about the degree of change, I next needed to settle on a more well-defined problem statement. Here is what I decided (after much contemplation)…
“I am quitting the speaking business and now need to make money by leveraging my current intellectual property in other ways.”
Although I don’t intend to stop speaking, making a bold statement like will force me to fundamentally rethink my delivery model.
My next blog entry will provide a 30,000 foot view of what might be my new business model. It’s very different than what I am doing today!