Secret Sauce – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme. Beginning this week, I am breaking things in to two separate posts.
The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.
This week’s theme is “Secret Sauce”
Ah, yes. The old “Secret Sauce.” Most businesses claim to have some kind of secret sauce or another – that thing that makes them more successful, or better, than the competition.
If you’ve ever been to a chili contest, you know that every cook in the competition swears his or her chili is the best on the planet. The same is true for a BBQ contest. Everyone says their dry rub or (literal) sauce is the most special in the competition, practically guaranteeing that their brisket, pork or chicken will bring home the bacon, so to speak.
Define Success and Experiment
Like business is general, your secret sauce is more art than science, although there is a healthy dose of both involved. The right ingredient or flavor for one person is exactly the wrong one for another.
First, define what success means to you. Using the BBQ competition example, perhaps success is to win the overall competition. Perhaps it’s to win the prize for best ribs. Perhaps you don’t even care about trophies and ribbons – success is merely being there to compete at all. Whatever success means to you, define it.
Once you’ve defined it, you have to experiment a little and find out what “tastes” right for you. If it is right for you, chances are, you’ll find an audience for it. BBQ pit masters do not generally go in to a competition with an un-tested rub, sauce or technique and realistically expect the judges are going to go gaga over it. They test it out first.
5 More Hacks
- Have an outsourcing strategy. You can’t do everything nor can you count on others to do it all. Determine an outsourcing strategy that makes sense for you and your business. What kind of advantage does it give you? Whatever the advantage is, it should play to your definition of success. Note, a decision to outsource nothing at all is still an outsourcing strategy.
- Rethink the way you think. Science and research shows that simply thinking about things differently has a major impact on how you succeed and on happiness. Pardon the French, but I like to tell people “If you expect a shit sandwich for lunch, that’s exactly what you’ll get.” Again, forgiving the scatological trend here, another one is “He/she could find a single rat turd in a mountain of gold and be disappointed.” Thinking positively makes a real difference.
- Pay attention to trends. If you have a product and design it in a way that does not appeal to the customer, it may be the best at what it does, but no one will buy it. Know your market, know your customers, and know the trends they are paying attention to – then design accordingly.
- Stay entrepreneurial and foster an entrepreneurial environment. So often we find that entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs, starting up multiple businesses in a single lifetime or career. It is what keeps innovation alive and well. But the business owner needn’t be the only entrepreneur in the room. Establish an environment in which employee and stakeholders can act entrepreneurially as well.
- Have a crisis management and communication plan. No one and no business is infallible. It may be due to our own negligence or mis-calculation or it may be due to unforeseeable outside circumstances, but every business will face crisis at some point or points during its lifespan. How you respond to the crisis is what makes the difference – and that begins with knowing how you will communicate through a crisis.