In my daily interactions with the businesses and business owners I work with, I often find myself addressing the topic of relevance. The daily whirlwind of chaos that consumes the majority of our time leaves little room to properly address this subject. Often times, when a business realizes the necessity of evaluating relevance, it is from a reactive stance rather than a proactive stance.
Businesses can expend vast amounts of resources trying to attract and retain sales that will drive profitability. Experience has taught me that understanding cash flow and how it differs from profitability is a relevant topic that invokes fear and is therefore ignored. Even the concept that sales and profitability are different is relevant and avoided.
Current market conditions, local, national, and international economics; local, national, and international politics, and ecological factors all influence decisions we make in our lives as consumers, business owners, and members of society. Yet, so many distractions are purposely put in front of us to distort the relevance of these issues in our lives.
So how is relevance, relevant to you?
For me, the process of relevance begins by looking at Regenerative Business Institute through the eyes of our clients. Those of you that are clients have likely heard me mention at some point that it will benefit you to look at your business through the eyes of your customers. Business owners, and especially those who consider themselves to be entrepreneurs, often pride themselves on being great innovators. They bring “world changing” ideas and vision to the table but often fail to view that innovation through the eyes of their customers. Henry Ford once said: (it is arguable that he actually said it but his actions tend to imply that his thought process leaned towards) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.” And “You can have it in any color, so long as it’s black.” Steve Jobs had a similar approach, insisting that customer feedback would hinder innovation because customers themselves don’t know what they want. This idea can be a topic in and of itself.
The point I wish to make here is that whether you are a leading edge tech company, a traditional retailer on Main Street, an automotive manufacturer, or a home based business your relevance begins by solving a customer’s problem(s). At the end of the day, the customer must be willing to sit across the desk and write a check (so-to-speak) for a product or service that solves a problem. When a business owner looks at their business through the eyes of their customer, they are actively engaging in the process of relevance.
Asking what makes you relevant to your customers doesn’t have to impede innovation. It doesn’t have to mean that you only deliver what customers are specifically asking for. It simply means that you consider all factors that affect what is relevant to your customers and you make that relevance, relevant to you.