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Michael E. Gerber: Seeing the game from above

Over the months ahead, my intention is to share with you the most successful strategic thinking ever done by business leaders, not only in your industry but in every industry.

April 23, 2013

Every time I speak to a remodeler, a chiropractor, a graphic designer, it doesn’t make any difference what kind of a business it is, we begin the conversation about problems: the economy.

You know the problems I’m talking about; you experience them every single day in your business. Fortunately, while we always begin our conversation there, we always end our conversation talking about what really matters: strategy.

Well, that’s how I intend to begin my conversation with you, from this very first column of mine, to the very last one I do. 

My wish is that this conversation will, over time, become one of the most important conversations you have ever had when it comes to your business. Why? Because strategy, believe it or not, is the ball game. Remodelers who think and then act strategically are, and will always be, the most successful remodelers among us.

Successful remodelers among us

So, what does strategic thinking look like, and how do you do it?

That’s the subject of “Working On It!”—the column you’re now reading. Over the months ahead, my intention is to share with you the most successful strategic thinking ever done by business leaders, not only in your industry but in every industry.

Leaders like Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks; Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s; and Steve Jobs, founder of Apple.

Yes, your remodeling business, done rightly, is no different than Starbucks, McDonald’s, or Apple. Each is the product of truly strategic thinkers. Each is a system invented by thinkers who saw the pattern of the world in which their companies were to become the strategic leaders, which is the first and last rule of strategic thinking. Your company is, and must operate as, a highly differentiated system—a visual, emotional, functional, and financial system.

Designed by you, who, as a strategic thinker, can become a master of business design as each of the individuals I mentioned earlier—Schultz, Kroc, and Jobs. To accomplish that seemingly impossible task, you must begin to see the game of your business from the airy heights of the vision from above.

You must transcend your business in order to transform your business. You’ve got to get out of the trenches in order to see the trenches and their relationship to everything your company does.

Seeing the picture of your business

To take the strategic journey I’m talking about requires that you stop for a few moments to consider the important fact that if you think about your business from the point of view of “fixing it,” you’ll never truly fix it. What you thought you fixed will just return to nag you dressed in something you thought to be new.

That’s why most consulting, coaching, and training programs don’t work. Because most often the consultant, the coach, or the trainer is thinking about fixing rather than inventing.

But of course, that’s why you hired a consultant in the first place: to help you correct something that isn’t working as well as you want it or need it. That’s also because few—if any—consultants, coaches, or trainers are entrepreneurs; they’re technicians who see the world tactically rather than strategically.

Interestingly, that’s also the problem from which most home remodelers suffer. They can’t see the picture of their business because they’re so busy working in it.

So what do I mean by “the picture” of your business? Your business must look like something uniquely differentiated from every other competing business—the color of it, the design of it, the dress code of it, the cleanliness of it, the order of it, the words of it, the visual experience of it, for every person who comes into contact with it. In short, your business must make a visual statement to the world.

At the heart of that visual statement is the philosophy you bring to your business. Your values will determine what that picture says. What your philosophy is about business, life, and all the verities we speak about as young people with our parents—all of that is strategic timber through which we build up our visual strategy for our business.

I’ll speak more about that in my next column. In the meantime, take a close look at your business. Take it apart visually. Tell yourself what you see about each of the visual ingredients I listed above. And be honest with yourself. Remember, just as with any building, the foundation of your strategy will determine the solidity of it. The visual strategy you end up creating will influence every interaction you have with your customers, your employees, your contractors, your banker, your competitors—everyone. PR


Michael E. Gerber is the author of the bestseller “The E-Myth Revisited” and 18 other successful small business books. Currently, Gerber is working on adding to his already published series of co-authored E-Myth Vertical books. Gerber will also be a speaker at Professional Remodeler’s Extreme Sales Summit in September 2013 in Chicago. To learn more about Gerber, please visit www.michaelegerbercompanies.com.


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