Friday, April 25, 2008

Building the Business from the Basics

In my role at NACS HQ I solicit, review, and select (or not) professional speakers for CAMEX and a few other programs. As you might guess, I get a LOT of invitations to read books, consider presenters, and otherwise contemplate hiring professional speakers.

Today I picked up Steven Little's book, The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth (Wiley, 2005). I saw Steven speak at a conference last year and have him on the "potential" list for CAMEX 2009 in Anaheim. After cruising through the first 4 chapters of his book--which reminded me of many things from his presentation--I'd have to say you might just see this fellow on one of our stages next March.

I would recommend the book. Easy read and good content. And of course, I thought..."This is a blog post."

So, I'm here to share two teasers with The Muse crowd to give you something to ponder in your spare time. Hey! I'm a middle-aged, single guy. What else am I going to do on a Friday night?

Rule 1: Establish and Maintain a Strong Since of Purpose
Suggested Next Step 3 (Little explains each Rule in a chapter and then ends with "Suggested Next Steps--what YOU are to do to act on the content.)
--Write down your organization's sense of purpose, including whom you want to serve, how you serve them, and the highest goal of the organization. Be sure it is clear, unique, and credible. (pg 67)

-> Editorial:
Can you do this? Many college stores do not have a vision or mission statement. Often, we overlook the importance of having a central, understood, and communicable raison d'etre. Every house must have a firm foundation.

Rule 4: Develop Customer-Driven Processes
Suggested Next Step 3
-- List all the ways you currently "touch" customers. Prioritize each based on how important it is to a CUSTOMER. Set about improving the priorities.

-> Editorial: The vast majority of our customers (students) are changing all the time. Indeed, they change completely every 3-5 years. Their standards for our operations are set by the full expanse of retailers available to them. One of our best strategies for meeting their needs is to understand the touchpoints and interactions as THEY experience them, determine which ones should stay or go, and ramp up the ones we decide to keep!

Core purpose and focusing on the customer. Does it get any better than that?

In a market that is continuously being challenged by new competitors--building (maintaining?) our businesses must start by evaluating and re-enforcing at the core.

That said, I guess the rest of my Friday night is at the mercy of cable TV. Wish me luck!

Tony Ellis, CAE

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