The Foundational Tools to Win The Game of Business

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You could be the strongest person in the world and still not be able to chop down a tree efficiently if you don’t have the right tools. Just imagine trying to do so with a blunt axe. All that strength would be wasted.

Yes, you should take some time to sharpen that axe so that you can chop down the tree in an efficient way. But what about using a chainsaw so that you can save your strength? Maybe you don’t even need to chop down the tree. What are you using the wood for? Maybe another material would be better.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
— Albert Einstein

Are you taking the time to sit down and think deeply about the problem you are trying to solve?

If you want to be the best in your field, if you want to win the game, you first need to understand the game you are playing, the rules, and then design a strategy so that you can win.

It is true that too much information can paralyze you. Excess information can also make us feel too confident about our decisions which is not always desirable. How do we find the balance?

Today, we want to share with you the discovery process that we have designed at Elisha Consulting. We use this process to understand how we can help our clients elevate their brands and win.

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MATT:

Quick overview. Alejandro and I oversee Elisha Consulting, a data-driven marketing company that designs solutions to problems. We are honored at how much our clients have succeeded, and I am confident a central reason is that we spend a large amount of time on proper goal setting though discovery meetings.

As Alejandro mentioned, it’s essential to look at the problem. We meet with entrepreneurs regularly who have set their eyes on being millionaire visionaries but haven’t taken the necessary steps to analyze competitors, the market, and if they have a viable idea. 

The value of discovery research is that you understand foundational data that leads to a proper strategy. The marketplace is fiercely competitive no matter if you are an entrepreneur, student trying to land an internship, or individual trying to advance your way through a company. The way to overcome many of your competitors is through research.

Here are real examples from our business.

Around 18-months ago, someone contacted me about possibly doing market research for their new business. The individual had a good job but wanted to start something for themselves. They were interested in purchasing a gourmet dessert restaurant.

The current owner was not turning a profit and was willing to sell for a reasonable price. I sat with the potential buyer and we looked at financial data. After looking at the numbers, I put the income statements down and asked a few questions.

  • Me: “Is the business losing money because of the product or process?”
  • Him: “I don’t know.”
  • Me: “According to the data, it looks like it’s a combination, and there are other stores people prefer.”
  • Him: “That makes sense.”
  • Me: “Do you have any restaurant or baking experience?”
  • Him: “No.”
  • Me: “Based on your answers, do you think this is a good investment?”
  • Him: “. . . No . . .”

Within minutes, the individual was saved from years of struggle on something he really didn’t want to do. He was more interested in owning a business than building a business. I determined that in just a few minutes of discovery questions.

Now, let’s look at something more positive.

I have worked with one specific client for 2.5 years now, and we have seen remarkable progress and growth. Do you know what I did for the first month of our business engagement?

Discovery interviews and research.

After 35 interviews and hours spent looking at industry data, I put together a 12-month timeline or recommended strategic initiatives including the value of each initiative, resources needed, cost, and the amount of time to complete.

The document was well-received and I happened to stumble on it recently while I was searching for a book in my home office. I smiled at how many of the initiatives were accomplished almost exactly as they had been described in that document. The first month likely looked like nothing was happening and the CEO was wondering why he was spending money on me talking to people. Yet, 2.5 years later, the business has been rebranded, grown, and seen processes become exponentially more efficient.

I could go on with more examples, some are incredible as Alejandro and I have seen a 29X return on investment for our services. Some are sad as we have advised people to not start businesses because the data determined their start-up was unlikely to be viable. Yet, the main point is that discovery research is essential to business growth, and it happens to be one of our specialties.

ALEJANDRO:

Any video game fans out there? I still remember my days when I used to play Diablo, WarCraft, Counter Strike, Age of Empire, and many others. Every gamer out there knows there is one thing that separates the good gamers from the great ones. Actually, that same thing separates good from great in many areas.

It is about understanding that the challenges we face are not unique. Yes, as humans we like to think that we are special but the truth is that we are not (and your mom lied to you if she told you that you are special). This means that someone else has faced the same challenge and has come up with a solution. So why try to reinvent the wheel?

The thing we are talking about is FAQs. The first thing any gamer does is to read forums, FAQs, guides, and every piece of information out there to understand the game and how to be good at it. You can do exactly the same for anything in life. This is the reason why Reddit, Quora, Wikipedia, and many other websites are so popular.

I’m sure you all have a friend who goes deep into anything they are doing (the intense OCD-type friend). Or you might be that friend. Welcome to the club.

The hack to go from good to great is to find those mavens, as Malcolm Gladwell calls them, and learn as much as possible from them.

This same concept applies to the professional world. In fact, the professional world is just another game. Mavens are all about using the curiosity to ask great questions, not resting until finding answers and then sharing that information with the world to help create value.

There are several places where mavens usually share the answers they’ve found.

  • Research papers
  • Books
  • Conferences
  • Industry Reports

And these are just a few. Yes, there are many options out there for places to find information. There are countless books on topics that we need to learn, and some research papers would take weeks, or months, to read and understand, and our time is limited. So how do we go about finding information to understand the game we are playing so that we can win?

Some of the tools we use at Elisha Consulting are:

These are just a few of the places where we look for information so that we can then set a strategy that would help our clients win. In some cases, you will have to pay to have access to this information, but there is also a lot of free information out there that can help you make better decisions to overcome the challenges you are facing.

Stick around because in the next article we will go more in-depth into our discovery process so that you can apply it to the challenges you want to overcome.