You would never leave your house without a place to go. You don’t simply wander out of your door and hope to stumble into a reason for getting in your car and driving. There is a purpose, the airport, groceries, an event...
So why then does that logic evaporate so quickly within so many business decisions?
First, if I may identify that in many business articles, or case studies, the use of the word “business” is presumed to mean “large, established, conglomerate.” That is rarely the intention, but I see too often that readers assume they don’t have the means or believe they alone are the exception to such suggested logic.
An old advisor of mine used to say “if you can drive a small boat, you can drive a big boat.” In my experience this is frighteningly true. Certainly there are complexities that need be considered at different scales, new talents or skills that are necessary, however there are numerous examples of simple and yet too often, forgotten concepts that apply at any scale.
TRACTION is one of those concepts.
Before investing, you must identify the purpose, and while there are many purposes for spending dollars, the best businesses identify first where they have the most traction.
There are multitude of ways to consider traction and it is not limited to a specific area. Traction is : where you get the furthest the fastest. What idea, skill set, business unit, product, do you see the greatest results with the least effort ? Typically, this is something that will jump out at anyone when given as an example.
“We sold out in 3 days.”
“I couldn’t get that jingle out of my head.”
“We started the business because of X, but people were constantly [asking for, using, commenting, buying] just the Y part.”
Traction may be as specific as a concept within in a campaign:
- "Dilly Dilly"
- Our commercials don't even need to be about the product... or anything really (Old Spice)
A customer segment that seems to be purchasing more of your product than other equally likely groups:
- New Balance
An aspect of a product that consumers are using more of:
- McDonald's All Day Breakfast (came from Twitter comments about being frustrated missing McD's breakfast cutoff)
- A franchisee priced every sandwich at $5 bucks (Subway)
- Just the guitar game (Harmonix Music Systems spun out Guitar Hero)
- 50% of Plumbing issue calls are relating to pools (possibly you)
Also, traction doesn’t necessarily mean it was the initial thing you set out to accomplish or provide. It may be an aspect of what you’ve built or grown into to date. Consider GEICO was only for Government Employees... (Insurance Company)...
There are of course many other things to consider once you’ve identified the area where your business may have the most traction, but TRACTION is the most important step on the way to scale.
Do we spend more on marketing ?
- What, specifically, do you need to market more of? ...Where do you have traction?
Do we hire or fire ?
- What part of the business does or doesn’t have traction?
- Is it a matter of redirecting resources to an area that IS showing traction ?
Do we … you get the idea.
Which brings in the concept of measurement, Key Performance Indicators, and of course The Waffle House number.
But as an exercise, can you answer where your business, or business unit, has the most traction ? How specific can you be? What opportunity do you see there ?