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Scale Business, Niche Business, or Soon-to-be-Left-Behind Business?

May 04, 2012

by Ginny Sutton, TSSA Executive Director

I can be jaded when it comes to professional speakers, having heard or hired literally hundreds during my professional career.  Last week, however, I felt privileged to hear a great speaker at the SSA conference in Orlando.  His name is Peter Sheahan, author of a hot new business book, "Making it Happen: Turning Good Ideas into Great Results."

Sheahan's blog

One of Sheahan’s assertions is that, as a business market matures, as the self-storage industry is certainly doing, there is no wisdom in being part of the crowd.  Riding the wave of doing whatever everyone does is simply not going to cut it. Innovation is required to differentiate yourself from the competition.  Rather than being a lemming and following blindly along to copy what others are doing, you have to figure out what your business is best at, and focus on that with great intention.

Sheahan separated successful companies into two types: scale companies and niche companies.  Scale companies are those large enough to have tremendous capital; their products tend to be low-cost and very competitive.  Niche companies are those that carve out an idea and execute it better than anyone else—in other words, they fill a need or create a niche market that customers may not even know that had a need for.  Apple is an example of the second type not the first, believe it or not.  Steve Jobs jettisoned thousands of product protypes being considered so that the company could focus on the handful of products, the Mac, the iPpod and the ubiquitous iPad, for example, that have taken the world by storm.

I left the presentation with Sheahan’s advice about driving your ideas to great results ringing in my ears.  This doesn't do him justice, but the gist was:

  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
  • Focus and be deliberate in your intention to be the best at something
  • Eliminate the things that distract and don’t contribute to your great idea or niche market
  • Successful companies choose a business model but sometimes have to evolve based on current market needs. Do you want to be cheap, fast, or good? Because you are probably not going to be all three.
  • Touch points do matter, as customers make buying decisions based on their own STORY
  • As a market matures, the focus shifts from reacting to pent-up demand to creating NEW demand
  • Value does exist in collaboration, such as industry conferences and special events.

That last one almost seems to contradict the rest, right?  Well, you can use others’ ideas to springboard into your next great idea—that one thing that you can see your business really excelling at in your market.

So I have to plug our annual Executive Retreat, this year to be held at beautiful Horseshoe Bay overlooking Lake LBJ, on June 27-28.  If you are an self-storage owner or seriously considering entering the industry or looking to invest, this is an event you should not miss. The first two years’ events received rave reviews and you only have this one chance to attend this year. 

Somehow the feeling at this event is just more intimate and filled with more serious networking and fruitful idea exchanges.  Perhaps it is because some of the most successful self-storage owners attend and bounce ideas off one another.  Learn more about the event here, and go out and differentiate your business into success! 


Executive Retreat 2012



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