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People, Process, Product
The Business Equation You Need to Solve
In the world of online business, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of news and daily tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture.
You might find yourself hyper-focused on your product, neglecting the essential processes that keep your business humming, or overlooking the people who make it all possible. Just like the classic project management triangle of "good, fast, or cheap—pick any two," online businesses have their own trifecta: People, Process, and Product. Let's explore why each is crucial and how to strike a balance among them.
People: The Extended Network
When we talk about "people", we're including your customers, communities, team members of various stripes, and a broader range of stakeholders.
Customers: Understanding your customer's needs is just the tip of the iceberg. Customer feedback can offer invaluable insights, but remember, your stakeholders often extend beyond the direct customer.
Employees: Effective communication and management are key, even for solopreneurs working with freelancers or consultants.
Communities: Whether it's a local business network or an online forum, communities provide invaluable support and insights.
Stakeholders: From e-commerce to consulting, you always have a wide array of stakeholders. This can include suppliers, customers’ family or team members, or even regulatory bodies. They may not be your direct customers, but their interests and actions are also tied to your business success.
Process: The Backbone of Your Business
Processes are the steps and methods you use to get things done, from handling orders to customer service. Build these processes like a LEGO set—modular and easy to tweak. Each 'block' is a task or function you can swap out without disrupting the whole operation. Processes are your friends, and streamlined processes will save you time and money and reduce errors and embarrassment. Being modular also makes it easier to delegate tasks as your business grows.
Modular Magic: Build processes with interchangeable parts. Swap out a piece without starting from scratch.
Automate the Drudgery: Use tools to handle repetitive tasks, freeing you for creative work. Computers don’t roll their eyes and huff when they have to do something for the 57th time.
Quick Pivots: Modular design lets you adapt fast. If something's outdated, replace that 'block' without a full overhaul.
Scalability: Modular processes grow with you. Add new tasks or tools as needed, without a total revamp.
Product: More Than What You Sell
Your product isn't just a thing you sell; it's a solution to someone's problem. Your brand and your voice are also part of your product.
Quality Over Hype: Your product should do what you say it does, and more. Great marketing can sell a crappy product (for a while at least), but quality leads to word-of-mouth referrals, which are gold for solopreneurs.
Stay Curious: Markets change, trends come and go. Keep an ear to the ground and be ready to tweak your product. Listen to what your customers (and even your critics) are saying.
Real Value: Forget the buzzwords like "synergy" or "paradigm shift" or even the coach favorite “clarity”. What real, tangible benefits does your product offer?
Finding the Balance
The key to a successful online business is finding the right balance among these three pillars. Each is important, and this time you don’t want to “pick any two”. Regularly review each area to ensure you're giving it the attention it deserves.
Regular Check-ins: Set aside time to review each pillar. Are your customers and stakeholders happy? Are your processes efficient? Is your product competitive and something you’re proud of?
Feedback Loops: Use feedback from customers, stakeholders, and fellow business owners to improve your processes and products. Create and automate surveys and forms to gather this feedback, and don’t forget to actually, you know, read it.
Community Engagement: Engage in community forums, attend local business events, or even host your own online webinars to share knowledge and gain insights.
Running an online business is a juggling act, but keeping an eye on People, Process, and Product can help you keep all the balls in the air. By regularly evaluating and adjusting each of these pillars, you set the stage for sustainable growth and long-term success.
Your Next Steps: A Quick Challenge
Now that you've read about the importance of balancing People, Process, and Product, it's time to put this knowledge into action.
Take 15 minutes today to jot down:
One thing you'll do this week to better connect with your customers, team, or community.
One process you'll streamline or make modular.
One improvement you'll make to your product based on customer feedback or market trends.
Hit reply and share your action items with me. I'd love to hear your plans and offer any insights I might have.
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