“Success Leaves Clues”
I love that quote from Tony Robbins and it’s so true. If we find people who are getting the results we are seeking and dig deeper to understand the strategies they are using to get those results and we do similar, then it is more likely we can achieve the same.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would certainly like to find out how I can achieve my goals faster and more effectively to expand my business.
So with that, I have been studying for many years, successful entrepreneurs, to understand what they do. To no surprise, these successful entrepreneurs work with other successful entrepreneurs!
Of course, that is probably a “no brainer”, but when you are starting off, or even kicking off your startup, how can you find the right people to collaborate with, while particularly taking into consideration your business needs of today and into the future – your ultimate vision?
This question is often overlooked, but it is an important consideration as in the early stages you need to have capability that you can leverage, but also into the future, capability and synergies that you do not outgrow.
Hence to resolve this business dilemma for entrepreneurs, I have created a system for identifying the right people to support your business for the “now” and for the “future”.
It is what I call the Business Expander ECO-System.
The Business Expander Eco-System consists of three elements: Environmental Levers, Collaboration Circles and Objectives-Over-Time – hence the term “ECO”.
The Environmental Levers are the specific areas of your business where you may choose to seek others to assist you in your business expansion through collaboration. This allows you to be more focused within your business to address the right needs at the right time.
There are six Environmental Levers that fall within four functional groups:
Avatars or Client Avatars, are the clients you are targeting. You may have several Avatars or client segments which are likely to result in different ways you serve and provide value to them.
The key question you need to be asking here is “do I have access to these Avatars?”.
As an example, you may have defined three client Avatars that you are targeting, but only have access to one of these. Now of course you could look at advertising etc, but if you want to “expand” into these two other segments, collaboration may be the answer for you.
Geos or Geographies, are more important today than they have ever been because with technology your reach can be so much further and effective.
So for this lever, the question is “do I have the reach into this geography?”.
In other words, you may be currently conducting your business locally, but are their collaboration possibilities to get you into other markets, while at the same time, your collaboration partner could leverage off you?
Value refers to your products and services and the value proposition you provide your Avatars.
Here you need to be asking how you can expand the value proposition of your current offerings. Is it possible to collaborate with others with similar but non competing products and services that when combined, provide a full suite and compelling proposition to you targeted Avatars?
Channels refer to the distribution channels for your value propositions. It’s how you connect with your targeted Avatars. For digital marketing this is through social media, but could also be at live events and conferences for example, where you may collaborate with others.
Here you want to be asking yourself whether you are currently being effective in your existing channels and would it be worthwhile to collaborate with others where there are mutual benefits. For example, cross promotion with each other’s mailing list is a common strategy.
Factory lever is the operations area of your business and is where you are designing, creating and supporting your products and services. For this lever you want to consider the areas where collaboration would be beneficial – for example innovation and coming up with new ideas for future value.
Enablers are the supporting areas of your business and although do not get the attention they deserve, are just as critical as any of the preceding levers. This is about finance, legal, risk – so you need to consider who you need to collaborate with to ensure you have the necessary capabilities in place in your business.
Collaboration Circles are the differing forms that collaboration can take place. While not always clearly defined, for each one, there are pros and cons – but the important point is to ensure that whatever collaboration relationship is being considered, it is considered strategically.
Network can generally be an informal collaboration between colleagues or known businesses, sharing ideas etc.
Associate may be a formal relationship but for specific needs, or at specific times. An example might be at an annual industry conference where we may associate with other businesses to mutual benefit as exhibitors.
Affiliate is more formal again over extended periods and is generally where one business may promote another business products and services for a small retainer. In the online space companies like Amazon. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing).
Partner is where you come together to collaborate formally and although there may not always be a 50:50 split in the financials, there are shared objectives for the purpose of coming together.
Joint Venture / Investor is really about being serious for the longer term and though similar to Partner, can be just a bit more complex in structure in regards to the collaboration dynamics.
Objectives-Over-Time refer to your objectives or needs of today and also what they may be in the future. By looking at your business’s Environmental Levers with your Objectives-Over-Time, then you are in a much better and informed position to identify the best Collaboration Circles.
The Business Expander ECO-System Can Help You In The Age Of Collaboration
We are living in extraordinary times.
Globalisation, digitalisation and affordable technology is opening up opportunities for many in starting their own businesses.
So if you are one of these people, setting up your own business, or have it up and running but want to expand it to the next level and you want to do it in a way that is effective, then do what the successful entrepreneurs do…
However, make sure you do it with purpose and a with a strategy in mind by developing your own Business Expander ECO-System!