Value Propositions that Solve Problems
The key ingredient in the recipe for creating a successful business is creating value for its customers. This may appear obvious to some, however its an ingredient that often doesn’t get the focus it deserves. When a business (online or offline) is able to solve a customer’s problem or satisfy a customer need, it immediately creates value.
Defining the value proposition for the business model is a must. The key is to determine what problem it solves for what group of customers. Four key questions need to be considered when defining this business building block:
> What value does the business deliver to the customer?
> Which of the customer’s problems are we helping to solve?
> Which customer need/s are we satisfying?
> What product/service bundles are we offering to each customer segment that we are seeking to serve?
Its important to note that value propositions may be quantitative or qualitative in nature. Quantitative values include things like price and speed of delivery. Qualitative values would be things like product design and customer experience.
Being able to clearly communicate your value proposition is a critical step in defining the business model, particularly for small business owners who service targeted niche markets.
Create Positive Targeted Customer Experiences
It’s no secret that the ability of any business to create positive targeted customer experiences will significantly impact on its success. The three building blocks that relate directly to the creation positive customer experiences are:
> The Customer Segment building block. This block defines the specific groups of customers we serve, each of which may have different problems to solve.
> The Customer Channels building block. This block defines the way in which we communicate and deliver our value proposition to each customer segment; and
> The Customer Relationship building block focuses on how we establish and maintain relationships with each customer segment.
Its important to gain customer insights as we develop and implement our business model. This will ensure that we are creating the right kind of experiences for our customers.
The Empathy Map
The book written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Business Generation Model describes ‘The Empathy Map’. Its a tool designed to help us move beyond the basic demographics to better understand the environment, behavior, concerns and aspirations of our customers. By considering what our customer sees, what they say and do, what they hear, what they think and feel, the pain they are experiencing, and the gain they will realise from doing business with us, we are able to better define appealing value propositions.
The lesson here is that business models should not be built by only considering the perspective of the business owner. Focussing on the insights gained from our customers will strengthen the business model. This is equally true whether we are seeking to serve the business-to-consumer market or the business-to-business market.
Don’t Try To Go It Alone
The challenge for the entrepreneur or small business owner is often the lack of team support. The question is can they really benefit from the process of Business Model Generation. The answer is yes, but only if we are willing to invite, accept and consider input from others.
> Recognise that every business has a business model, whether it’s defined or not.
> Outline the current business model in the context of building blocks.
> Share this working version of the business model with others and solicit their insights, while also studying it privately and looking for ways to enhance it.
> Revise and enhance the model, and evolve the business based on your new perspective.
> Commit to regularly reviewing and enhancing the model to strengthen your business in the face of the ever changing market place.
These steps will put you on the path to a more successful enterprise through the process of Business Model Generation.
A friend alerted me to the existence of this handy piece of software today. It’s called Copyscape http://www.copyscape.com.
Copyscape is a product of Indigo Stream Technologies Ltd, a private company co-founded by Gideon Greenspan. Copyscape is dedicated to protecting your valuable content online. They claim to provide the world’s most powerful and most popular online plagiarism detection solution, ranked #1 by independent tests. Website owners worldwide check the originality of their new content, prevent duplicate content and search for copies of existing content online.
Recently I’ve heard of bloggers having their content stolen. It hasn’t happened to me yet, so having this tool should mean that I will be able to track down the perpetrator if in fact it does happen.
Have you ever had your content stolen? How did it make you feel? Have you used Copyscape? If you have used it, was it a positive outcome?
These are a couple of stories from the Copyscape website. Yes I did copy them, however in this instance I am giving much more than taking.
As one of Germany’s leading companies for website-content our business is based on delivering unique content. We integrated the Copyscape API into our CMS and as a consequence our copywriters get instant feedback if their texts are really unique. We and our customers really appreciate the technology!
- N. Dreyer, CEO, Textprovider
This site is awesome. We have now caught two people who have copied the entire content of our corporate site. It is unbelievable how stupid some people can be… but without Copyscape we wouldn’t have been able to find them. Thanks for the great site!
- Todd Garland, Mindfire Interactive
I’ve had another extremely busy week and I am thinking what will be the subject of this week’s post. I’ve got to get it written because I am determined to maintain the habit of at least one post a week.
I’m thinking about why am I blogging anyway. Why am I taking the timeout of a hectic schedule to do this. The answer is really simple: I’m doing it to broaden my network.
In his book ‘Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty’, Harvey MacKay says,
Oh… and once you’ve met them, don’t forget them and don’t let them
When life is hectic its easy to not do the the things required to keep in
touch with your network. I’m struggling with that now, however I know
I need to make sure I do the little things like sending birthday cards
and spending a little time often on my Facebook page… consistently.
What are the little things you do to keep in touch? Am I correct in saying
“women seem to be better at this that men”. I’m looking forward to your comments.
Building the Bridge
“If you build a network, you will have a bridge to wherever you want to go.” That’s how Harvey MacKay explains the value of a strong network.
And it’s so true. When you take the time to make connections and build your network, eventually you will always be able to say that you know someone who can help you out. Whatever happens, with a solid network of supporters, you will be prepared to handle anything.
When you’ve got that network of people who will always be there for you (because you were there for them when they needed you), then you’re never alone.
“There is no certainty; there is only adventure” – Roberto Assagioli.
The fear of losing control usually creates stress. The late Italian psychoanalyst, Roberto Assagioli, the founder of the psychological method Psychosynthesis, Psychology with a Soul, described an example of maintaining control despite adversity. In 1938 he was imprisoned by the fascists in Italy for his unpopular political beliefs. Deprived of his liberty, Assagioli described how he discovered freedom in acceptance, despite living in what appeared to be a powerless state.
“I realised I was free to take one of many attitudes toward the situation, to give one value or another to it, to utilise it in one way or another. I could rebel inwardly and curse; or I could submit passively, vegetating; or I could indulge in the unwholesome pleasure of self-pity and assume the martyr’s role; or I could take the situation in a sporting way and with a sense of humor, considering it as a novel and interesting experience… I could make of it a rest cure or a period of intense thinking, either about personal matters… reviewing my past life and pondering on it… or about scientific and philosophical problems; or I could take advantage of the situation to undertake personal psychological training; or, finally, I could make it into a spiritual retreat. I had the clear, pure perception that this was entirely my own affair; that I was free to choose any or several of these attitudes.” – Roberto Assagioli, ‘Freedom in Jail’
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“Roberto Assagioli (Venice, February 27, 1888 – Capolona d’Arezzo, August 23, 1974) was an Italian psychologist, humanist, and visionary. Assagioli founded the psychological movement known as psychosynthesis, which is still being developed today by therapists, and psychologists, who practice his technique. His work in the field of psychology concentrated on spiritual needs, pertaining to the will and Ego.”
Personal power… it’s your choice
Freedom of choice can also work counterproductively. Choosing to dwell on fearful thoughts can actually limit possibilities. Dwelling on lack, what you believe you cannot do, difficult environments, past hurts… or choosing to rise above them. Its important to choose carefully and wisely.
Personal power through respect
Manipulation is just another form of aggression… if you attempt to manipulate, you deny that person respect. Any wise observer will see your actions as lacking personal power. Instead, if you display a strong sense of self worth and appreciate the worth of those around you won’t choose this unrewarding strategy.
When you recognise your responsibilities to others and therefore show awareness and compassion, you will exhibit true personal power. Clearly state your intentions, express honest feelings, respect the feelings and needs of others… these assertive transactions are evidence true personal power.
“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation” – Roberto Assagioli.
If you are called upon to be the bearer of bad news, a message that is out of your control, you can and should exercise control over how you deliver the information. Candid, but compassionate honesty will usually soften the blow as well as a consideration of when and where you choose to convey the message. Practical support free from any personal bias or just allowing them some think time can help the healing process… whatever seems to be appropriate.
If you must criticise, be constructive and to the point. Ask for feedback. Take ownership of the statements you make. Preface them with “I …………..”, rather that making impersonal and abstract statements. Be firm but considerate. Would you prefer allies or enemies? The answer to this question should influence your attitude.
How do you react to criticism? Do you learn from constructive criticism? If you honestly believe the criticism is genuinely misplaced or relies on factual errors, make your point politely, simply and if possible suggest how to fix it. Never enter into a tit-for-tat argument… that’s not evidence of personal power.
If a critical confrontation is imminent, prepare yourself. Consider the issues and what you think may be said, from minor criticism to to the worst possible attack. You may even want to rehearse your responses. If you exercise control and awareness, your personal power will remain undiminished.
The golden rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated
Assertive behavior is not learnt overnight. Engage in the practice of self monitoring your dealings with people and make every effort to act with clarity and dignity. As often as you can, treat others as you would like them to treat you. You will reap the rewards.
We should never underestimate the impact that we have on others… good or bad. This metaphor from the book by Donald Clifton and Tom Rath, ‘How Full Is Your Bucket’ illustrates the simplicity human interaction: We’re all buckets of water and in every single interaction we have with other human beings, we are either filling their buckets or taking water out of their buckets.
The idea is that our words, actions and attitudes either add or remove water from the buckets of others. When our actions are positive, supportive and appreciative, we are adding water to their buckets. When we are acting in a negative, combative and argumentative way, we are taking water from the their buckets.
Appreciate people on a regular basis
We should strive to fill other people’s buckets by upgrading our words and learning to deliver genuine feedback whenever we get the chance. A study by the US Department of Labor showed that 64% of people leave their jobs because of lack of appreciation and a study revealed that 65% of people say they receive no praise or recognition in the workplace. How easy could it be to reverse those trends?
So all we need to do is to decide to take action by showing our appreciation of people on a regular basis… whether they are family, friends, colleagues or employees. Of equal importance is taking the time to write a note to someone who has helped in the past to remind them of how they have impacted your life.
Acknowledge the good stuff… regularly
People need to be acknowledged regularly for positive things. According to the psychology experts, small, positive interactions are very important. Researcher John Gottman suggests that there is a ‘magic ratio’ that we should follow: 5:1 or five positive interactions for each negative interaction.
The lesson is very clear… people have a real need for regular feedback regarding the things they are doing right. If they are only acknowledged when they make mistakes, they will feel that they are not being acknowledged at all. More than likely this explains the workplace statistics shared in the previous insight.
We can ask people how they want to be acknowledged. All too often we assume that we know what people want because we know what we want and we believe they must want the same things. While it may be awkward the first time you do it, the suggestion of asking before acknowledging is a powerful action that should be considered.
Manage your mindset
One of the most important, but often overlooked, dimensions of success for the small business owner or entrepreneur is managing your mindset. We all have an inner critic that gets in our way from time to time. Like the little creatures in the movie Gremlins, this critic come out and wreaks havoc on our thinking from time to time. Usually at precisely the time when we don’t need it.
Focus on the good stuff
If we focus on the good stuff negativity takes a back seat, helping us to keep our mind focused on what is possible and allowing us to take your businesses to the next level.
These are the four steps in the visual thinking process according to Dan Roam, author of ‘The Back of the Napkin’. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are more often than not ideas people. We invest a fair amount of time thinking about ways to grow our businesses and find solutions to our challenges and the challenges facing others.
I don’t know about you, but my ‘light bulb moments’ often happen under the shower. I guess it’s because I am relaxed and my head is clear… and it’s the start of a new day. The conversations that follow often take place on the run, or in a restaurant. Then what often happens is that you grab a pen and proceed to sketch out the idea on a napkin.
Most of us are visual thinkers and when we attempt to explain our ideas we rely on pictures. Though many of us argue that we are not good at drawing, we nonetheless grab a pen and reach for some paper to sketch out our thoughts. Our immediate goal is to show the listener how the idea was ‘hatched’ and why we believe it will work.
In his book, Roam suggests that their is much more to this simple process of sketching our ideas on napkins than we may realise. He reveals its power by showing how we think and revealing the important role pictures play in our thinking. He also outlines a straightforward approach to more effective problem solving and selling ideas with pictures.
Visual Thinking is Something We Do Naturally
Roam also explains in his book what we are actually doing at each of the four steps of the visual thinking process:
• When we are looking, we are collecting and screening information to make an assessment of what we know;
• When we are seeing, we are selecting and clumping information to help us evaluate it and better understand the situation;
• When we are imagining, we are trying to identify what isn’t there and considering the implications that arise; and
• When we are showing, we are making it all clear and creating a picture of the situation as we understand it.
Roam utilises analogies very effectively throughout his book… making even complex concepts easy to understand. In the final chapter he summarises the entire process in just five pages using five simple ‘back of the napkin’ illustrations. I won’t attempt to explain the process, because its best illustrated on the back of a napkin as Roam does in the book.
Business problems can be solved using visual thinking coupled with the ability to transfer those ideas onto the back of a napkin in a way that will be easy to remember. One of the ways we can achieve success is by learning how to solve problems and sell ideas with pictures.
Have you solved a problem or sold an idea using a napkin?
Perhaps you see the concept of power as a negative force that is to be used against others. Look at it this way… expressing power in a positive way is as simple as acknowledging and valueing our network of loving and responsible relationships.
There may be a multitude of valid reasons causing us not to claim the power that is our birthright. We may have been discouraged from developing self-esteem and initiative in our earliest years… even by those that loved us and had our best interests at heart. As a consequence, we developed the self-denial habit.
The adults that were responsible for our emotional development may have been unable to fully encourage or support ours because they themselves experienced little support during their own childhood. This lack of support can play out generation after generation if left unchecked. A caregiver who who has been denied early emotional support themselves for whatever reason, may interpret any expression of independence as threatening their fragile sense of power and authority. They may even be afraid that the child no longer loves and needs to depend on them. Unable to see the child’s move towards independence as a healthy and positive expression of individualism, they may attempt to hinder or even suppress acts of creativity and confidence. In doing so they put at risk the natural development of personal power… or they may even be successful in squashing it completely.
Others equate personal power negatively, asserting that it is power over others… a trait that few of us would like to be associated with ourselves. We may distrust our power because we are uncomfortable with the notion that others will see us as overbearing. We may even be fearful of public exposure of any kind because of the perceived risk of criticism. It may be that we just lacked encouragement or the means to seize opportunities in our formative years.
True mentors and leaders embody the virtue of non-competitiveness. It’s not that they don’t desire to compete, far from it… they do so in the spirit of fair play. They encourage all those within their sphere of influence to develop their strengths.
You can develop yourself to your full potential when you allow yourself to discover and tap into your personal power. Then all those who interact with you will benefit in some way. So regardless of your past experiences, there is a powerful inner spirit worthy of exploration. You can approach your future with a different sense of yourself. Your personal power will contribute to your growth, your relationships and to the people around you. A high degree of awareness and flexibility is required to balance your needs and the needs and wishes of others.
Everyone will benefit when you live life authentically and in harmony with others. Society is created by the actions of many… choose to become an inspiration to others while you are fulfilling your own dreams.