Monday, January 9, 2017

You should also add internal value

I recently wrote about how important value is when it comes to an IT reseller’s business. However, that is only half the story when it comes to value. That initial post focused on providing external business value. That is, value to your customers. What I want to focus on here is about why it is just as important to focus on adding internal value to your business.

What do I exactly mean by internal value? I mean focusing of making your business a more valuable entity by boosting to its culture, knowledge, experience, professionalism and so on. Doing so makes your business more attractive to your target market, allows you to charge more for your services and spend less time chasing business.

How is such value added? It certainly isn’t added by having a commodity business model. It also isn’t certainly added by doing what everyone else is doing. It certainly isn’t added by merely looking at the short term returns from customers by just selling ‘stuff’.

Let me give you a practical example. Let’s take one of my favourite tools, PowerShell. PowerShell allows you to add value to your business in many ways. The more your use PowerShell the more automation you are able to achieve. This improves the speed at which you can get tasks done. It makes you more competitive than your peers. It also provides a benchmark skill level that everyone in your business can aim to aspire and live up to. This provides a goal for staff to develop their skills. It provides a commonality between your staff that binds them together as a team and helps them stand apart, thus building esprit d’corp. It helps their professional development, thereby building their career skills, and so on and so on.

Let’s take another example. Yammer. I constantly hear resellers saying that because they can find no use for Yammer in their own business they don’t see any reason to look at it. Wow! Talk about leaving value on the table! Remove your blinkers and take a look at the market outside your business for a change. How widespread is Yammer in your market? Not much right? How many businesses are overloaded with emails and want a simple collaboration solution? All of them. You can show them something that they probably have never have seen before, will solve many of their pain points and is simple to configure. So skilling up on Yammer will give your business a skill set most competitors don’t have. It will differentiate you from your competition. It will give you access to customers you never would have previously. Value, value and more value.

Just about every Office 365 business has access to Yammer, yet how many have actually implemented it? Even if a business doesn’t have Yammer there is also a free Yammer service you can build offerings around. So, if you made Yammer a focus of your business model how much value do you think that would add to your business? Heaps. How many more people would seek you out as a Yammer ‘expert’ because they can’t find one? Heaps and heaps. How many happy customers would then refer you onto others happily? Heaps and heaps and heaps.

The added value you should focus on for your business is not merely reselling Office 365 as I have said previously. The value focus should be on the unique services you provide on top of the platform. The more unique services you can provide the more valuable your business becomes to your target market. This value directly translates into customers seeking you out. It means business literally walks in the door.

However, it will not just walk in your door unless your business is attractive and this attraction comes solely from adding value. Adding new skills, refining skills, retaining the best staff and so on. Your aim should be to become so attractive that your target market just can’t ignore you. At that point you begin to reach the rarefied status of being ‘aspirational’ and turning away more business than walks in the door. You are the luxury brand of your segment. Achievement unlocked.

If you currently have high staff turnover it is because your business is not an attractive or valuable place to work in the eyes of staff. If you have high customer turnover, again, your business is not attractive to this audience in their eyes. Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder, not the provider.

Again, everyone understands value but few are actually disciplined to put in place systems that promote and enhance such value. Most are looking for the easy option. They are looking for the option that everyone else is doing. Such laziness relegates them to the back of the pack in a commodity market with next to no chance of success.

Yes, understanding value is easy, creating it? No so much. However, the secret to constantly adding value to your business is systems. You need a value system for all aspects of your business. If I ask you how you added value to your business today, you should be able to show me a system. Likewise, if I ask you to show me how you added value to your staff, you should be able to show me a system. An so on and so on. Systems are the manifestation of your discipline. No systems? No discipline. No hope. It’s that simple.

So now you hopefully appreciate that adding value is both an internal and external part of your business, but let me leave you with one final question to ponder. What value have you added to YOURSELF personally today? Being value driven is not something you do, it is something you live, in every nook and cranny of your being. That, my friends, is the secret of success!

There is only do or not do. There is no try. May the value be with you.