Develop Your Standout Capabilities
Developing your standout capabilities. Developing your standout capabilities. So, of course we've gotta go back to the ax, only I've added a little a little blurb here. This ax is specially designed for chopping wood, not driving screws. Your business needs to be specially designed for the value you provide, not all of the other things that you could be doing. Right, if you remember back to what Jack Dorsey said. There are a thousand things you could be doing. There are a thousand things you could be getting better at. There's a thousand things you could be investing in. But there are only one or two that are really important, that matter right now. For an ax, nothing else matters than making sure this ax is specially designed to chop wood as easily and quickly as possible. Nothing else matters. Nothing. But I see business owners all the time trying to get better at things that they are not in the business of. They're spending money, they're spending time, they're spending energy they ...
do not have working on capabilities that mean nothing to their core offer. Mostly because they don't know what their core offer is, and even if they do, they haven't really established their product-market fit. So once you know what it is, once you've established product-market fit, you really need to say, what actually matters here? What do I need to be refining? What am I really in the business of? Because it's your business to take what you do best and get better at it. And when I say you here, I actually mean your business. I don't mean it's your job to become a better expert at all of those things, although that's part of it. But I'm actually talking about taking what your business does best and making your business better at it. Take what your business does best, and make your business better at it. You don't need anything more on your plate. You don't need me to tell you to get better at what it is that you do. But your business, on the other hand, that thing that is different from you, that is bigger than you, even if it's just you right now, even if it's not really a thing yet. It's still bigger than you. It's different than you. And so you wanna figure out, what is my business going to be best at, and how can I get better at that every single day? Every business, every successful business, anyway, has special capabilities that give them an edge in the market. I want you guys to start thinking about what are your special capabilities? What are your business's special capabilities that give you an edge in the market? That help you live out that differentiator that we looked at earlier, that helps create that benefit for your customers, that helps you get to those key valuable outcomes? What are the special capabilities that give you an edge in your market? For Bombas, their special capabilities are being really great at e-commerce, which includes great email marketing, it includes great Facebook advertising, it includes having a really great shop online, a shop that works really well, that gets me to buy a lot of socks! (laughs) They also do bundle sales really well. That's a capability that they have. They know what it's going to take to get me to buy twelve socks, or six socks, instead of two or three. And by socks I mean pairs. (laughs) You don't want three socks. So, bundle sales is actually one of the capabilities that they have. And their proprietary design, right? One of the things they're saying is we offer cutting-edge comfort. There's science, there's research behind the way our sock is designed. And so it behooves them to keep up with that, to keep evaluating is this product as good as it could be? Is it as comfortable as it could be? Do people love it as much as they could? How can we get better at it? How can we constantly be pushing the edge on the design of our products? So for Bombas it's e-commerce, its bundle sales, it's proprietary design. We've also been looking Airstory today. For Airstory I would say, Airstory was built by copywriters, so they have copywriting expertise. It's built into the way the product is built. That's a capability for them. If they stop being copywriters, if they stopped being amazing copywriters, the product would actually suffer. That's important to that product, continuing with that expertise. And then collaboration, experience. They're a team of copywriters who know how to collaborate with each other. They wrote a website called Copy Hackers that gets submissions from all over the web. They are constantly working together with other copywriters. So they know what it takes to collaborate. They know what it takes to create great content marketing with a team of people. And so those are things that they'll continue to invest in to make sure that the features they built into Airstory, the marketing that they put behind it, the way that they're talking about their product, it keeps up with their special capabilities. For CoCommercial, it's that human-powered network which goes back to why we decided to hire a community manager full time, potentially before we needed one. We wanted to make sure that the network was driven by people not algorithms, not technology, but people. And our people being people number one. Distributed expertise is also one of our capabilities. In other words, it's not just about how smart I am, it's about how smart the whole network is. And so every day, every week, every meeting we have we're constantly talking about ways to highlight the expertise of our members. What can we do to highlight this person? To refer to that person? To bring this person up and say you should listen to this smart person? You don't need to hear anything more from me. Listen to this smart person over here. That's working amazingly well. Our members love it, our community loves it, it is a selling feat, it's a selling point of our product. When you buy a course you buy a guru. When you join CoCommercial, you get distributed expertise. There's gonna be someone in that community that can answer your question based on their expertise. And the transparent operations is another capability of ours. In other words, if I'm running an experiment, I will tell you about it and I will tell you if it fails. Right? Or we will open up and say this is our standard operating procedure for how we run our podcast. This is our social media guidelines, which we haven't created yet, but we're working on. And then here's, take a look at this, copy it, steal it. So transparent operations is actually something that we're working on improving on a regular basis. What else can we share? What else can we pull back the curtain on so you can see how we run our business? Those are our special capabilities. What are yours? What are the special capabilities of your business that are going to give you an edge? Whether you're really fully utilizing them yet or not? Yeah?
So this is where I, I, my brain. So, when you're talking about a service, are we talking about our personal expertise, are we talking about the expertise of our team? That's what I'm getting confused on.
Does that make sense?
So, you're getting confused because you haven't made a choice about how you're going to grow yet. We will get there, don't worry about that. But this is actually a good time to be thinking about it. Do you want to invest only in your own expertise, or do you wanna create something where your company has that expertise? And so maybe you hire other coaches, or you hire artists who can mentor other artists in this space.
So this is why I'm thinking, I'm thinking scalability. I mean, I certainly have my expertise, but I would wanna also bring in other art historians who can help people write in a certain way. So that's.
Great, so in that way, I might start thinking about one special capability that you might wanna develop as a particular framework or methodology that then you could train those other art historians in. So they would take their years of experience and the education that they have, but you would give them a system that they can work through with clients so that you know they're doing great work based on the great work that you've done, but you can also take it and scale it as well. So you can hire more art historians that you don't have to be constantly micromanaging, did you do that grant right? Did you do that grant right? 'Cause they're working through a system.
Yeah, 'cause there's also the limitations, like you know, I think many of us face where we're one person and at some point you can't. You're working to a group, but there's only certain one-on-one. So that's what I was thinking.
Yes, which is, this is why thinking about those capabilities is so important. Because you start thinking, like, how is it that I'm gonna take this and start growing beyond myself. What is it that's special about me, not actually that special about me. (laughs)
Well, and I was thinking about that because one of my areas of expertise is I've always worked with living artists. So I'm very good at interviewing people and pulling it out, what they're really, what's really going, I can see what's going on in their work and I pull it out of them to have them tell it.
Great, so that sounds like--
That would be the skill that I would teach somebody else how to do.
So when you said that I was like, okay, perfect, this is like creating your little thing that you teach all the other people to do.
Yep, you got it, that's your special capability.
There you go.
Who else? What other special capabilities are you gonna invest in?
I'm not thinking of capabilities as much as I'm thinking, 'cause you listed a lot of things that you can invest in, 'cause as you start to scale in one of those things, I'm wondering were certain ones better money spent at certain times, low-hanging fruit, do you do them all at the same time?
That's a really good question. So I would always start with which is gonna help you differentiate from other offers. So, which capability is the most different from what else is available in the market. Does that make sense?
I think so, yes.
Okay, so, for instance, well, I'll give you two for CoCommercial. So the human-powered network is really different because people are used to going into Facebook groups that have zero management. They're used to being on social medial networks that are algorithm-driven, and so when we can say hey, when you join us and start your free trial, all you have to do is PM this team of people, specifically this one person whose job is literally to make sure you're finding what you need. Like, no other social media network, no other network gives you an email address of someone you can actually contact who's gonna answer your email. That's a capability that we've invested in to differentiate ourselves from the competition.
And as a part of your differentiators, before you even did that, you make your list of things that you're already looking, so this is one that makes sense now 'cause it helps differentiate, let's double down on that and then continue to go from there.
Yes, exactly, so we started there, and it had to do with differentiation, it had to do with capacity, and then the next piece we've really, we've always done the transparent operations thing. I'm very transparent, you can pretty much ask me about anything and I'll tell you exactly how we do it. But the other thing that we're really, really working on right now is the distributed expertise. What does it look like? There's that question again. What does it look like for us to be constantly highlighting the expertise of our members? So I'm not a guru, I'm not an expert, I'm just super user. I'm just a super user like all these there super users, and here they are and they'd love to talk to you. Right? And so that's kind of the next place that we're going as another differentiator for us for sure, and that was just the order we chose to take on that. But yeah, always start with what is going to set you apart, what is gonna give you the biggest edge in the market, what's gonna help you stand out most, and then back fill them in from there. Okay, yeah, do you have one in mind?
No, I was actually thinking about the ax metaphor again. And thinking okay, you need a thousand axes, are you trying to, are you bringing somebody to market, the ones that are coming off the line so that you can then go back and invest in another ax maker? Do you invest in the ax maker first instead of the marketing person? So I was trying to think about how you place these things out?
Yeah, so that would depend a lot on the skills of the founder, right? So, yeah, it took me forever to hire a marketing person because I had skills in marketing and it made sense for me to keep that internal until I just didn't want to anymore, basically, and so I hired other people first for places where I don't have skills. And you see that in startups as well. You'll have a technical founder, you have a marketing founder, and then they'll hire customer support, they'll hire these other people, but they still do marketing for a while. This other guy's still coding for a while, or a girl, is coding for a while. And so, yeah, it's based a lot on what your existing skills are. So I'm gonna put you on the spot, though. There are a lot of people offering how to build an online course thing, right now. Lotta different businesses, all sorts of different courses for that. Why should I buy from you instead of someone else?
Probably my experience of doing it, so I've seen what works and I've seen what doesn't. I've got the background in education as well, I've been working in it for 15 years, and if it doesn't work, I don't get paid.
Okay, well, how are you going to continue to invest in that capability?
I naturally stay invested on the research side of it and the academic side of it. But where I get stuck right now is I'm at the point where I'm launching, right, get my stuff out there. Do I spend the money on the technology, the marketing piece, the emailing piece, and that's where I get a little bit stuck. 'Cause it's like what comes first? So whenever I think of infrastructure, I think of hardware a lot of times. If you build that up, spend the money there first, and then the marketing people in place, that's.
Yeah, so I would put that back to you. It sounds like a research-based approach is sort of your key capability. That's what's gonna differentiate you from everyone else. And so I would ask, or I would ask you to think about what would be the next-most important piece to support that capability? So what is gonna help, what is gonna allow you to better tell the story of you having a research-based approach? Because you can do the marketing. You can build the technology. You can do any of those things, but one of them is gonna help you tell that story better, and that's the next one you should invest in.
And my idea is get people following this approach so that I can get some results, and then feed it back out and say this works.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it sounds like your next step is just doing the work.
Doing the work, right, and getting it out there.
And then figuring out where to go from there. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
So I've sort of built my entire product out of the fact that I am as a person the unique blend of personal and professional that I bring. I am sort of the guru, but I'm also the person who puts it all together for you. So in that sense, I can't give that to anybody else. There are other things that I can scale, but the whole idea is that it doesn't, to me, I built this because it doesn't matter how many people I'm talking to, I can perform the songs, I can show you what you're doing, I can take the member-generated content and answer the questions. No matter whether I have three people or 3,000 people.
Yeah, so, blend of personal and professional is one of your capabilities. I would flip it around for you. Now, I wanna say there's nothing wrong with being an expert or a guru. Like, if you wanna build your business around that, that's fine. You, however, have a very different opportunity if you choose to see it this way. And that is the blend of personal and professional, is that actually baked into the way you built the product? The professional is the membership, is the resource library, it's all of those things that you've created from years of education and experience. The personal is all the members in the community who can help other members. And so that doesn't actually involve you.
That's true. Yeah, and what happened, I started to create a community by setting out daily prompts, and people, and I'm one of the people who answers the prompts and we all comment on them. And so that, I'm building that personal part of the community.
Yeah, so one of my huge realizations for this year is how unneeded I am in my business. It's so exciting. And it's not as someone who is considered an expert, someone who has been the go-to person for the questions, it's as someone who's felt like, oh god if I'm not in there answering questions, maybe people aren't getting the experience they want. But we worked hard at flipping that around and taking about exactly these things, human-powered network, distributed expertise, I'm a super user, not a guru. And recently I had an experience where, so another quick aside and I swear I'll get to the point, one of my core desired feelings for Danielle LaPorte's desire map were for this year, and really for always, is mastery. For me, if I'm feeling masterful, I am on cloud nine. I feel masterful at CreativeLive, how do you think this is my 10th class? This is my jam, right? I had an experience recently where we had rolled out a new benefit at CoCommercial for our Leader Circle members where we're doing these flash masterminds. Everyone gets together on a call. Maybe it's 40 people, maybe it's 10 people. We press a magic button in Zoom that breaks them out into groups of three and they help each other. They mastermind with each other. Jennifer's nodding 'cause she loves these things. (laughter) And the second one we did, it dawned on me when we brought everybody back together, I have a sense of mastery here and I didn't talk to a single person. I kept working on the thing, they did their own thing, and they came together and I still feel like we created a masterful experience because we did. We created this value without me having to be involved. So, and I will also tell you that this whole process has been sort of like peeling back the onion layers on how invested I have become in my role as the expert and my role as the person who does the research, and my expert as the person who does the experiments. And so, if for you and for everyone, and for all of you listening as well, when you start thinking about these capabilities and you think how do I take me out of these capabilities, wanna let you know it's a long process of introspection and personal development. (laughs) And two, your customers will love it. That if you talk about it right, if you frame the value in a way that's gonna benefit them, and then you create that experience where it really does, they won't need you. And then you're free to grow your company and create your highest contribution through the impact you're making with this community.
Yeah, I'd love to get to the place when I'm more the stepped-back facilitator and they are running.
Start making those plans now.
And what I see is that too, is that what your expertise that you're bringing is in network creation. So bringing together smart people or people, like for Tara, who have been following her and who have learned a lot, and so then everyone coming together, being like that's, you're not just a maven, you're a connector.
Yes, exactly, yep.
Yeah, I mean, your product is personal plus professional.
It's not just you, it's the product. That's where, I mean, that's such a great place to start wrapping things up here, actually, because that's what you want. You want your core offer to be a representation of what makes you, as the founder, as the innovator, as the creator, great. You want your core offer to be the representational of your personal highest contribution, but in a way that allows you to make a contribution that is so much bigger than you could on your own. Right? That's why we're here, that's why we're small business owners. We're not small business owners to have given ourselves a job with a terrible boss who happens to have the same name as us! Right, we're here to build something that's bigger, that lives beyond us, that has a legacy, that creates that contribution and impacts people's lives. That's what we're talking about. And so this, even though this question might seem so strange and you might be so stuck on it right now, I want you to go to bed thinking about this question, I want you to take a walk with this question this afternoon, what are your special capabilities that give you an edge in the market? And how can you bake it into this product so it doesn't need you anymore? If you want it to still need you, like if that's something that you truly, truly want out of this offer, and out of your business, that's fine. But I truly see a place where you can take your special capabilities as a business owner, as a visionary, make them into an offer and create something so much bigger and better, and more impactful than what you currently have. And so, like I said. This is a question to get your brain churning. This isn't a question you necessarily have to have the answer to today. This is a question that's gonna guide your business for the next year, the next three years, the next five years, the next 10 years, and it's gonna guide you closer and closer and closer to the highest contribution. Erin says, I have a place on my online store for feedback, but it's not used often enough to really use it for analyzing. Can you make any suggestions to encourage feedback? Absolutely, Erin. This is a great time to just send out a survey via email. It's also a great time, so we're gonna talk about this tomorrow during the Do Things That Don't Scale lesson. It's a great time to pick up the phone. What would happen if you called your best customers? What would happen if you just randomly picked up, you've got their phone number, right, 'cause you've got an online store. You're accepting orders, I'm sure you're taking a phone number. Call 'em up, say hey, what did you love about my product? What would you wish was different? What can I do next time to make this the most amazing experience possible? Just talk to me? What problem are you still dealing with, how could this help you solve something that's going on? Now, Erin, I'm not sure what you sell. Sometimes that problem language is problematic with physical products, but yeah, this is a great opportunity to actually actively talk to your customers. Pick up the phone, shoot them a personal email, send out a survey, that personal touch, man. That's what gets the feedback flowing. And yes, it is time consuming, but it is so, so, so worth it. Next one. Also from Erin. How can you reiterate an offer if your product is already finished and can't be redesigned? I.e., a music album that is finished, sold, and already has purchases. Um, so, in this case, this is an interesting, this is an interesting scenario. I would say feedback and iteration, in your case, is going to be, you are gonna be constantly creating. You are in a business where you don't have a what-else problem that is kind of the core of your business model, is that your job is to create new music. And so you can always, you can ask about what more someone wants out of an album? I mean, I think musicians, especially in this economy, in this day and age of the way art is sold, you have an opportunity to create a really interesting experience for your customers. And so if you actually talk to some of your fans, and now knowing that you're a musician, definitely should get on the phone and talk to people because they will flip out when they hear from you. Talk to them about what kind of experience you could create for them. Talk to them about, ask them what your music means to them, and then take some time, clear out your schedule for a day, and just sit and think about how you could create the most amazing customer experience for someone who buys your album. I'm not asking you to have them, to have that feedback influence the music that you create unless that's the kind of business that you're in, but instead thinking about the customer experience. Is there a way that you can deliver a live concert? Maybe you could sell your next album with a live free broadcast of that album. So you sell the album, you do the live broadcast. Maybe that would be amazing for people who are never gonna be able to see you in concert. Maybe there's something else creative that you can add in there. But think about the whole package of the experience, and every album you release is an opportunity to iterate and create something that's new and creative and different, in terms of creating that ultimate customer experience.