In Change, Strategy

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

We live in a world that likes to measure worth by accomplishments. We’re always talking about what we’ve done, about what goals our businesses have achieved, by what items we’ve crossed off our to-do lists. It’s implied that the more things we do, the more successful we are.

I think one of the real keys to success, both in business and life is knowing what things you don’t do. We don’t have enough time to do everything, even if we think that’s what we want. When we try to do everything, we end up doing nothing exceptionally well. We’re mediocre at everything.

So think about your business. Think about what you need to say “no” to when it comes to…

Customers. Almost everybody wants to grow, so we tend to chase after every customer out there. It seems like our motto is “Any new business is good business”. But it really isn’t. If somebody doesn’t really value what you do exceptionally well, then are they really a good fit? In general 80% of your headaches are caused by 20% of your customers – who’s in that 20% that you shouldn’t even be doing business with?

Services. So many business want to diversify their service or product offerings. Figure out the latest thing customers might want and offer that too. And obviously we need to be responsive to customer needs. The problem is we end up offering a bunch of things we’re not really good at or passionate about or can even make money doing. All that does is drain resources away from areas where we excel and are passionate about. What is really the essence of what you do? Then why are you doing something else?

People. We not only don’t have an unlimited supply of time in our lives, we don’t have an unlimited supply of energy, either. We can’t afford to spend our time with “energy vampires”. I don’t even have to define that term – you already have people in mind. Why are they part of your business? Or for that matter, your life? We make lots of excuses, and occasionally they’re valid – but not very often. Get those people out of your business – and if possible, your life.

Don’t give in to the temptation to succeed by doing everything you can, or trying to be everything to everyone. Think about what’s really valuable, what’s really important – and eliminate the rest. Make “no” part of how you measure success.

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