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09 Oct 2014

When Your Business Is Out Of Balance

09 Oct 2014

work life balanceIn the last Balance article we talked about the 4 Part Business Model which is the same shape for solo Entrepreneurs as it is for the biggest corporations.

In essence, here are the parts:

1 – Masculine – Yang – The Ideas People create the new product or service

2 – Feminine – Yin – The Nurturers develop the product/ service so it is sturdy enough to survive beyond launch day

3 – Masculine – Yang – The Marketers get the word out, sell it and build a customer base

4 – Feminine – Yin – The Collectors support the customers, draw in feedback and pass that to the Ideas People to take the product / service to the next level.

Let’s get clear on this masculine / feminine description. It doesn’t necessarily point to a matching gender. After all there are plenty of awesome sales women and superb male customer service staff.

Each of us has both energies inside us and we can switch between masculine and feminine as needed. Just ask any solo parent and they’ll tell you what I mean. Generally, our personality favours one energy over the other though.

Masculine is described as outwardly focussed and feminine as inwardly focussed.

Society for many decades has seen the masculine as the preferable. You are admired if you are confident, bold, loud, brave, out to conquer. You attract lots of followers and admirers when you are an amazing ideas person or a gun marketer. You are seen as one of the “successful” ones. Our emphasis on these “yang” qualities has undermined the importance of the inwardly focussed “yin” part of ourselves and of business. Being out of balance is often why businesses don’t last long.

You must have a balance between the two.

Like a battery. It has to have a masculine and feminine end or it won’t come alive for you.

Like the familiar yin/yang black and white image, the circle isn’t complete without both being balanced.
Notice also, I am not saying they must be equal, just balanced. One ideas person, 10 developers, 30 sales people and 20 customer service people might be the correct balance, for example.

What does a company look like when it’s out of balance?

I bet you’ve dealt with at least one of each of these companies…

Masculine energy dominated business:

The company comes up with great products or services and quickly produces them. They do a superb marketing job and attract new customers easily who are so blown away by the sales pitch they are prepared to spend thousands of dollars on the product even if the solution has been offered by others before at a lower cost.

As the customer experiences the product or service they find it doesn’t quite live up to it’s name though. It’s hard to put your finger on it. You understand everything they offer, you can implement it verbatim and it just doesn’t quite give the results you expected.

You go back to the company to ask for clarification, for more help or even to get a refund. The customer service is limited. You get the feeling they were just after your money and don’t give a damn whether you get what you want from it or not.

Disillusionment sets in. You are more wary when you look at their products in future. They’ve lost your trust.

A year later you notice the company isn’t selling that product anymore. They’ve moved onto a new magic solution now. This again draws a big audience of new people though repeat business is relatively small.

From the company’s point of view, they really do want to provide solutions. This lack of loyalty is puzzling to them. They believe their audience to be fickle and work harder to continue spitting out new products. Eventually they burn out with all the effort they put in and find the business as a whole is not satisfying nor sustainable.

Feminine energy dominated business:

The company has a fairly regular offering in products and services. In the beginning they offer it to someone they already know who agrees to be the guinea pig and try it out.

The results are superb. The offering is well thought out and delivers everything it promised – which was not in the superlative – and more.

The customer likes it, gives their feedback which the company takes very seriously and goes back to “perfecting” the offering.

Marketing and sales are fairly limited. There’s no strong campaign plan or resilience in pursuing the sale. Sales growth is slow and is mostly limited to word of mouth referrals. If there are not enough resources to sustain the staff during this period, the company may fizzle before it’s really got started.

The company is really proud of their offering. It’s like Beta video tapes. Superior quality that just doesn’t grab the market. It’s exhausting trying to keep their chin up. In the end they also burn out, shelve the idea feeling like a failure and close their doors.

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I am generalising, of course, but you can see where the balance between the masculine and feminine parts is necessary to give you both a well planned and executed offering as well as the marketing to sustain a growing, loyal fan base.

When you can build customer loyalty it makes for an easier ride later on when you are ready to plateau for a while and build your resources for the next growth spurt.

So what about your own company or freelance offering? Take a look at those 4 parts and see if each part is well balanced. Does one part stand out as extremely strong? Is another part in desperate need of improvement? Do you need to pull in advice or additional resources to bolster that area? Or is it new skills to learn yourself?

HR Managers are expert at getting a good mix in balancing the business parts but, if you don’t have your own HR Manager, it will be worth taking a good honest look at balancing those components to reduce the amount of energy wasted and allow your current products or services to be profitable over a longer term.

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