Invest in Your Capabilities
In lesson five we talked capabilities as being that special thing, or things, that your business does. That's it's especially designed to do, and that you need to get better at to be able to increase capacity, serve more customers, and grow. Remember your ax, that tool, that is your highest contribution, not just another way to make money, was specially designed for chopping wood, not driving screws. I would never pick up an ax when what I needed was a screwdriver. And this ax has been specially designed with the wedge-y thing at the top, the sharp part, to cut wood quickly and easily and with at little as effort from me as possible. So we need to identify, "What's your wedge-y thing," (instructor chuckles) "that needs to be refined and invested in?" We started identifying it yesterday. I'm curious if for you guys, if it's changed at all, or if you've learned more and figured out what more of those capabilities are. But I don't want to talk about just identifying those things today, I ...
want to talk about actually the process of investing in them. What it means to take a capability that your business has, that thing that you do best, and actually get better at it. Put systems, put investment, put energy, put team members in place, so you're taking that capability and making it better, so that your core offer doesn't also stall out, but continues to get better and better and better. So what are your special capabilities that give you and edge in the market? What is it about the way your business conducts business, gets results for your customers, works with your clients, that gives you an edge in the market? That allows you to do things differently in the market then other folks? Because different is better than better. Thank you Sally Hogshead. Let's review some of these examples because I know this one is still a little bit conceptual I think. Bombas, those great socks that we talked a lot about in the first half of this class, have a few special capabilities. One of them is their eCommerce platform. It's easy really easy to buy from them. And in addition to being easy to buy through that eCommerce portal and being really good at just doing business online in that way, they kind of tack on to that the bundle sales piece. They're really good at selling you not just one pair of socks, but selling you many pairs of socks. Because who needs just one pair of socks? If you've got one pair of socks with holes in it, you probably have four pairs of socks with holes in it. So you should probably buy four. That's what they're really good at. And I'm sure there is someone in charge of making sure that they get better at selling their bundles. And then the propriety design piece. They didn't do two years of research on how to make the best sock, only to stop researching how to make the best sock. I'm sure they're testing their product, they're listening to client/customer feedback, they're learning more and more and more about what is needed in those socks to make them the best anyone has ever worn, to have that cutting edge comfort. And so that proprietary design is the capability that they continue to invest in. Because it gives them an edge in the market, it's important for them to invest time, energy, and money. With airstory, that collaborative writing software we talked about yesterday, the airstory team brings copywriting expertise and collaboration experience. Those are two things that they continue to invest in. At CoCommerical our special capabilities are that we're a human-powered network. It's not about an algorithm, it's not about being a number, it is about making sure that when you join you know that there is a human there that can help you. You can't find something, if you don't know who you should be talking to, if you don't know what to post next to get help, Shannon can help you. It's a human-powered network, right? It's powered by one person. No, we have a group of people, she's just the main one. In the future it will probably be powered, I know it will be powered, by a team of community management experts. People who are there to connect our members with each other, to connect answers to questions, experts to posts, to help us run our events. It will be a truly human-powered network. We're also invested in distributed expertise. Right now we're putting an extraordinary amount of time into make sure that we're highlighting our members. That we're helping people see that not only are our members small business owners that have questions, but our members are small business owners who have answers. So we're putting a lot of time in to that, as well as other resources. And then that transparent operations, I'm constantly looking for ways we can share the way we run the company. Even a class like this. This was two days of me really pulling back the curtain on how I think about things. On the decisions that we've made. How we come to the prices that we charge. And so this actually, right here right now, is an investment in sharing our transparent operations with you. But here's a little more in depth, a little more specific of how we've invested in our capabilities over the last year. First of all, we made sure that we have a person who is in charge of customer support so that everyone gets that concierge experience. Whether it's Shannon answering your email, or Marty answering your email, or Rosie answering your email, it won't be me, I can tell you that. You don't want me to answer your email because you won't get an answer. (group laughs) There is someone there to make sure you get what you need. To connect you with the person, the answer, the content, whatever it is that you're looking for. Or if you don't know what you're looking for we can help you figure that out. There is a human there to do it. We pay people to do that. It's very, very important to me and the vision that I have for this community. We schedule virtual events with member experts. So we're taking time, my team members time, my time, to involve our member experts in Q&A calls, in round table discussions. We're going to be adding more and more of that in to the future. We provide opportunities to connect live with other members. A significant portion of Shannon's week is actually just sitting there talking to people so they can talk to each other. Whether that's during Flash Masterminds, or our Co-Working Hours, whatever it might be. They're chatting along a CoCommerical right now about this class, and Shannon's there chatting along with them. It's great. That's expensive. I pay her for that time. I don't rely on the good will of our members, although there is a lot of good will in our membership, that's something that I've decided to invest in with our company, because I know that's important to my end goal. My five year goal and beyond. And then of course sharing what we're doing and why on the platform as a superuser. So one of the things we want our customer to do and one of the things that is a capability for us, is not just our transparent operations, but everyone else's transparent operations too. So I set the precedent, or our team sets the precedent there by acting as superusers. Everything that we do on that platform we also want others to do as well. So if we share our standard operating procedure for something, or an experiment that we're running, or a set of ads that have performed really well for us, or the set of technology that we use to make something happen, then we're setting a precedent that says, "Oh, if Tara does that, if Shannon does that, "then I should do that for my business as well." And so that's why we categorize ourselves as superusers, instead of leaders, or experts, or gurus, or hosts, or whatever it might be. We're superusers. That's what we do. And that's something that we invest in. That's something that I take time every single week, unless I'm on vacation, to share something of what I'm thinking about, of a decision that we're making, so that our members are doing the same. So I'm going to ask you. As you've thought about where you want to be five years from now, as you've clarified what those special capabilities are that have the potential to give you an edge in the market, where do you see yourself investing either time, energy, or money, over, let's say, over the next year, to make sure that your core offer gets better? What do you want to invest in, capability-wise over the next year, to ensure that your core offer gets better? Ayelet?
Well one thing that I would really like to do is to start connecting with other members live. At where they're at and trouble shooting questions for where they are it, where their child is developmentally.
Okay. And what capability is that going to help you invest in?
I guess that would be ... The fact that ... Okay, let's think. Oh you really put me on the spot. (instructor laughs)
That's my job.
The ability to sort of distill information, and glean ... The way to move forward.
But that's me as a leader. But it's also this sort of shared experience of parenthood.
Yeah. So I actually think this maybe goes back to what we talked about earlier with personal plus professional. So you connecting live with other members allows them to have a personal experience. It allows you to derive insight from your professional experience. That's something that sets precedent for the future as well. Where they may feel empowered or be empowered to do the same thing.
Great. What else are you guys going to be investing in? Jennifer?
Well if I'm conceiving this all correctly, because I'm assuming it's like, "How can we be free or freed up to do more stuff," is what I'm seeing, is to do what I'm best at. So for me, if I'm going to invest in my capabilities, it's by building up my team. In particular to help with customer support onboarding and making sure that all of that is taking care of, so I have more time to focus on the things that are my expertise.
Yeah, absolutely. So how does customer support, customer service, fit into the special capabilities that you have, that give you an edge in the market? Because everyone needs great customer service, right? Customer service is never ... Almost never I should say, contributes to your differentiator.
No. I looked at page 27 and "What are your unique capabilities?" I kind of broke that down. And then what could free me up or give me some space. I'm very, very good at seeing big picture. I can diagnose, and look at your art business, and figure out where you're leaving money on the table because you're not messaging yourself properly. You're not doing this, that, or the other thing. And so I want to have more time to do that, so I want somebody else to be--
You know what I mean? So I don't know if I'm answering this question right--
Let me reframe it a little bit. I think the special capability that you have, kind of goes back to what we were just talking about around methodology. So you're actually investing in developing that methodology by investing in hiring customer support so you don't have to do it. Does that make sense?
But that's also where I want you to cast that investment for yourself and the future of your business, too. It's, "I'm paying someone else to answer these emails, "not just so I don't have to work as much, "or work as hard, but so I can put my time and energy "into this thing that is going to further develop "the future of my company."
Yeah. And I much rather have that person, with a little guidance, "Here's how I want the autoresponder sequence, "this is what I want to do, "this is how you want to respond," so then I can be creating the system to bring on another art historian, to--
There you go.
But I'm saying is, "If I can do that, "that gives me better opportunity to focus."
That's perfect. Thank you.
I think for me, it would be building more of a resource library. I already have a whole bunch of eBooks and handouts and all of that stuff. But I'm thinking more video, like cooking ... I have a lot of recipes books, but it's all very abstract for people who haven't cooked before. So I'm really trying to make a grocery store on video or a grocery store tour. So stuff like that.
Nice. So sort of comprehensive content.
Yeah. Something that's longer lasting so I don't have to repeat myself over and over again in these sessions.
I can see that kind of flowing really nicely into what we talked about, maybe a collaborative, holistic, wellness practice. Where that's actually, maybe a center point, of what that practice becomes. Where there's a resource library, there's this comprehensive content, on approaching your health from a holistic perspective. And then there's these experts, and there's these practitioners around that. That gives you focus, that gives you ... Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot. Any questions on investing further in these capabilities? Greg?
Real quick. The way I heard that was, "Investigating in the capabilities "can be the same thing "as investigating in your differentiators?"
Yeah, thank you for saying that. That's exactly right. Investing in your capabilities is investing in what makes you different. What gives you that cutting edge in the market.
I guess the second question would be, what are your thoughts around investing in new capabilities as a business owner ... 'Cause I've heard different thoughts, "Where you know what? "Hire other people to do the things you're not good at. "Hire people to do the things you are good at "so you can go and do something else." Or does it depend?
That is a very big depends. (group laughs) I was going to say to give me a specific thing that you're thinking about. I'm over in depends land over here. (light laughing) That doesn't sound right. (group laughs)
And it really is because I've heard, "Invest "in the things that you don't do well," and recently I've heard, "But you can also hire "somebody to do things that you do well, because you can manage it better," and then you can go off and be CEO or whatever it might be.
That depends a lot on what stage in your business you are. I think that I am on both sides of the fence on this one. I think that more business owners need to be willing to learn hard things. That might be in you learn a little bit about CSS, so you can make changes on your website. It might mean that you learn how to do that marketing stuff that you really don't want to learn how to do. That you tell me about all the time. It might mean that you learn how to do your social media really well because it depends on you. Whatever those things are. Doing your books. Whatever that might be. But I also want people to be willing to hire faster. One of the biggest regrets I have in my business is not being willing to hire sooner.