How One Company Discovered an Unexpected Growth Opportunity

Yogi Berra take a fork in the road

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We humans love boxes. Storing our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in tidy boxes feels comfortable, reassuring, and safe. Scattered dots make us anxious. We aren't wired to deal with uncertainty for very long.

Remember those connect the dots activity books you had as a child? You knew that when your fat blue crayon connected each dot in the right order the friendly elephant would magically appear. Our grownup selves are confronted with endless disconnected dots daily. Our mental fat blue crayons frantically try to reshape them into the orderly boxes we crave.

But here's the surprising thing about scattered ideas, thoughts, and information snippets. When we give ourselves the mental freedom to step back and look at the dots differently, we discover unexpected opportunities.

One Company's Dilemma

I was talking this week with a business acquaintance "Tom" who is at a crossroads. Tom has a young, unique product company that he feels fully committed to. Sales are gradually increasing as he acquires both new and repeat customers. We'll call this product company #1.

At the same time, Tom wants to revive a dormant service-based business. This is service company #2. These two businesses both demand Tom's dedicated time and focus, bandwidth that he is wisely concerned about.

I leaned back and listened to Tom talk about his indecision. As a solopreneur, he is the lone plate spinner. Tom had nearly convinced himself that he would abandon service company #2 for a few years and focus his attention on product company #1.

It was clear to me that this wasn't Tom's preferred decision. He simply couldn't see the path to doing both well.

And this is where my fat blue crayon sprang to life.

Tom and I have talked regularly for 18 months so I've followed his journey to build product company #1. Like every solo startup, he has had to contend with the tedious day-to-day operations, financial, inventory management, and technology. All of these are essential but outside his experience and interest.

These learning experiences lead directly to Tom's unexpected opportunity.

The Unexpected Opportunity

Tom's desired clients for service company #2 share the same business characteristics as product company #1's customers.

What if Tom started sharing his business growth journey with his desired clients? He becomes a real relatable person who understands the day-to-day challenges they face. He builds credibility for service company #2 because he is living their lives through company #1.

The dots become a lot less scattered.

One Dot Connects to the Next One

One of the obstacles Tom struggles with is building the content and delivery framework he knows that service company #2's clients require.

Tackling a content creation initiative so broad feels overwhelming. Rightly so. A business model that relies on a reliable content strategy requires planning, continuous creation, and diligent attention.

We talked about content creation in general for a few minutes. I had a clearer understanding of Tom's concerns and comfort level. Getting started is more doable when you start with one activity. Just like drawing the friendly elephant, the dots have to connect in the right order.

In Tom's case, I suggested that he start by keeping notes about his day. These are his private lessons learned, successes, and the random thoughts he needs to get out of his head. The tool isn't important. What matters is developing the daily habit of putting thoughts into words.

These personal notes can then become the source for his shareable content. Tom can start with short posts. As he becomes more confident in his words, the posts can become longer.

Thoughts and ideas should be expressed in whatever ways he is comfortable with -- and his clients will engage with. I could hear self-doubt creeping in so I shared one of my simple techniques.

  • Canva visuals with just a few words make good Instagram posts.
  • When you expand the same visual into multiple pages, you have multiple images in one post.
  • Go one step farther and save that multi-page image as a movie.
  • Now you have a video post. No recording, editing, and putting your face out for the world to critique.
  • This is the first small step in video creation.

  • Tom started to relax.

    Because there is anxiety and self-doubt surrounding content creation, this is an important obstacle for Tom to overcome. Both companies separately will benefit from a clear content framework and strategy. When approached as a powerful dot connector, the value of both companies increases in unexpected ways.

    One Final Thought

    We all have far too many disconnected dots just waiting to become a friendly elephant. Start with a list of 5 ideas that you wish you could do something with -- if only they fit into a comfortable box.

    . . .

    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships.

    She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need.

    As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

    Tags: Business Strategy

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