8 OBSERVATIONS FROM WE2 – #1 Risk & Scalability

24 Jan

I’ve never had an issue with taking risks.  However, in my business (Nosey Parker), I meet women constantly in the small business sector who feel it was a big risk to just open their business – and it is.  Soon after the open sign is up, the fear of failing causes them to fail .. they stop taking risks immediately.  I also find that women mimic other women … if she can do it, I can too.  However, “do it” with a different product or service or audience.  Opening one more brick and mortar clothing boutique may be your dream but is it needed?  Are you solving an issue?  There is a difference between taking risk and just having the “I can do it better” attitude.  Many men and women do this because they think the person they are mimicking took the risk already by testing the market place (e.g group buying sites).

An overarching theme at WE2 was scalability, which implies that the underlying business model offer the potential for economic growth.  I get it and I can write volumes of my ‘potential’ scalability.  It’s necessary to show it in an attempt to predict failure, but the reality is that there are risk factors to predicting economic growth as well.  I am asking myself these questions:

1) Customer Behavior – Do they care? Are they retainable?

2) Recurring Revenue – is money being made while you sleep?  If not, then what is the plan to get them in while you are awake?  My model is transactional and I am now adding recurring revenue.

3)  Resources – Are they assets?  What is the value of these resources to growth?  Provisional assets will define your experience and delivery.  I learned the hard way  that there are “Ponzi Schemers” in the resource field.  Truly be careful, especially when the economy is on the skids.  When businesses need money, they will promise you anything to be your partner.

4)  Rank your daily activities – which ones are crucial? As Seth Godin says “time spent doesn’t equal success”.  I struggle with this.  I have been told by one of my partners that my value is needed in growing the company, not the daily grind.  I admit though that I am afraid that if I turn my back on the daily grind, what I have built so far may lose its position.

5)  Reliability – this is the nail in the coffin if you don’t get it right regarding partners and suppliers.  I receive resumes and business offers quite frequently.  In the interviews I conduct, I have started to ask “please give me your definition of reliability, examples of how you are reliable and three business references who can back up your reliability.”  Reliability = Accountability in my book and it’s a lost character trait.  I say bring it back!

6) Cost – Initial, ongoing, future.  I run a cash business.  It is a service and it pays for itself as long as I personally am involved.  The problem is expanding.  Planning the cost of growth was somewhat delinquent on my part, however I’m working on it now.

7) Change – this is vital.  No one ends up using their initial business plan. Are you flexible? There are aspects to my business that I am firm on because of the niche, however, over the last year I have made a few changes that give the business a bigger audience.  I know quite a few brick and mortar business who change their location frequently.  I’m guessing their leases are short term.  They blame lack of traffic 100% on location.  Women will drive up to two hours to shop at their favorite stores.  I’m guessing they need to spend some time on redefining how to reach.

8)  Confidence or Aggressiveness. Which one pays the bills? Being aggressive I say … ask Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway.   I loved her story about turning objections from clothing designers into creating a new market for them.   My “scalability” for confidence is off the charts.  This is a kill or be killed business world. I live in the Inland Northwest where aggressiveness is seen as bitchy, networking is opening yourself up to theft and being highly professional is not looked at as a good thing.  However, when I was at WE2, I had to laugh out loud at the aggressive behavior of the women attending.  I loved it … for real.  I was also wishing for an IV hook up to a few people – their blood type transferred to mine, not just for the aggressive gene but the luck and “who they know” quotient.  As I was waiting my turn to speak to Arianna Huffington, no less than 10 women stepped in and interrupted when it was my turn.  Being the southern gal I am, I just tolerated it and ended up walking out with her.  She was polite and informative … worth the wait and at the end of the day, I was aggressive enough and received the information I needed.  Yes … I’ll take aggressive over confident, some may argue it’s the same thing but I don’t think so.

Advertisements

One Response to “8 OBSERVATIONS FROM WE2 – #1 Risk & Scalability”

  1. Judith Jones January 25, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    You are so spot on with your observations! I agree that confidence & aggressiveness are different. I need my confidence to keep my aggressiveness in check. By that I mean when I am confident about what I’m doing or saying, people are more attracted to my point of view & I don’t have to be aggressive to get what I want. Having said that, there are certainly times that nothing but aggressiveness is going to get the job done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s