I gave a presentation yesterday to a group of lawyers and one of the great things about it was that I declared for myself, and for them, what it is I see my business as creating.
I didn’t exactly plan to do this. It just came out, and when it came out it was powerful and there was a quickening in the room. I see my business as creating workability, performance and satisfaction in the workplace. The ostensible product is training in writing and communication, but in a way this is kind of irrelevant. What I’m really selling is workability, performance and satisfaction.
So much about the workplace doesn’t work, and it doesn’t have to be this way. When there’s a basic level of workability, performance and satisfaction at work becomes possible and I assert this is what people want from their work. Your experience of work can go up and down, but as long as you feel able to perform, to contribute, then satisfaction ensues.
Being in the business of business for the last year I’ve become really interested in what it is that other businesses are really selling. When I think of my previous occupation – management consulting – I’ve concluded that one of the things consulting firms are selling is glamour. When it comes to the big players like McKinsey’s, the client is buying great suits, good-looking consultants, the sexiness of brainyness.
I’ve recently gotten a new hairdresser called Rob. When I think of what he’s selling that I’m buying it’s efficiency, reliability, predictability. I really like him because he’s on time, he’s super-quick, he tells me the cost upfront and he doesn’t muck around.
There’s a cafe I go to every week or two for lunch called Mixed Business in Clifton Hill. The food and coffee are great, but what this business is really selling that I’m buying is love and care.
Most times, I see an elderly couple who also have lunch there once a week. They’re in their late 70s or early 80s, and she has a walking frame. Every time I see them it’s the same routine. They have lunch, then the wife gets up and goes to the flower shop next door which is also run by the cafe people.
Her husband stays in the cafe until she’s chosen her flowers – today, I saw she chose pink tulips – then he goes out and together they sit on the bench outside the cafe waiting for the cab which the cafe staff call for them when they’re ready. When the cab arrives, one of the cafe employees accompanies them to the kerb, holds the flowers for the wife while she gets in and closes the cab doors when they’re safely inside. Then the cafe employee waves them off.
That’s what I’m buying when I go to that cafe: love and care.
What are you buying from your special providers?