Whether you've been in business for 10 days or 10 years, whether you've got $10,000 in revenue or $10 billion in revenue, there will be competition in whatever pond you're in. As the pond starts to fill up, even if you're at the top, someone or something is gaining on you to knock you from your perch.
To continually innovate and keep things going, you must do one (or more) of these: find a bigger pond, explore new ponds, expand the pond you're in, or move to new bodies of water and go deep-sea fishing. It starts by asking yourself these questions:
• What's next?
• What do we need to do to reach our goals?
• How will our brand, services, products, technologies, and above all our people keep standing out from the rest?
For me, it was making myself big in my hometown of Sioux Falls, then the state of South Dakota. When I was big in South Dakota, I realized there are 49 other states I need to make myself big in. Once I've made myself big in the other 49 states, it's on to South America, Europe, and beyond. I started with my local pond of Sioux Falls and am working on expanding to global ponds and oceans.
The best way to look for and find new ponds is to be willing to start all over. To do it successfully, you must follow these three A's to success:
Adapt - Re-Envision the Pond
When I first launched C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett on Bloomberg Television, it took off like a rocket. When Season 2 never came to fruition on Bloomberg, haters thought it was because it was cancelled - and they couldn't be further from the truth. The show was so successful that I brought it in house on C-Suite TV and on the business channel on United Airlines. I knew there was something bigger out there and was ready to adapt and meet it head on.
Adapting means being ready to change at a moment's notice, and to be prepared for anything. I adapted C-Suite to be delivered online on C-Suite TV, breaking away from the traditional TV model because I firmly believe that's where the future of TV is heading. For me, personally, I don't ever take on a project without thinking at least five to ten years ahead, so I can map out how I can get it there.
The speed of business today makes adaptation more essential than ever. You must strike a balance between satisfying demand for who you are and what you offer now and adapting.
Ask - Find New Ponds
Traditionally, businesses find new ponds by building new stores, expanding their reach, tapping new markets, or buying competitors. But the concern here is overexpansion, which can lead to the pond drying up. What leads to overexpansion? Failing to translate your value proposition to new markets. What's effective in one market may not translate well whatsoever in another.
The key to expanding and finding new ponds? Asking questions and, more importantly, genuinely listen. Take the time to understand and listen to what your current and potential future customers are telling you before tapping them.
Automate - Move Faster in Your Pond
If moving to a new pond or growing the pond are not options, then you need to become the most efficient, deadly, fish in the pond you're currently in. Become the biggest, baddest version of you you can be through better communication, automation, and systemization.
However, don't confuse the word automation with personal. You can automate your communications without losing a beat of personalization. But by moving repetitive tasks to become automated, like welcome emails or drip campaigns, you're freeing up valuable time.
In business, we can't be so fixated on attracting new customers that we forgo our greatest asset - happy, current customers who keep coming back for more. If you can't expand or move ponds, then these people are your bread and butter, responsible for most of your profits, and who should be protected at all costs.
There's always someone bigger in you than your pond. The key to becoming the biggest and baddest? Always ask yourself what's next. This way, you can determine whether you should grow your pond, find new ponds, or do better in your current pond to decide how to grow and sustain your business.