What business are you in?
Pretty simple question, right?
Oh, I see. You work in advertising, or you’re a teacher, or you cut hair in a salon.
Well, I still don’t know what business you’re in.
Maybe these stories will help…
70 years ago railroad companies thought they were in the railroad business. They pretty much owned the market for transporting goods and people. Then airplanes, semi-trucks, and interstate expressways took over. People started flying long distances or driving. And companies with freight started using trucking companies.
Railroad companies were in the transportation business, but they didn’t know it. If they did, today we’d be flying B&O Airlines, landing at O’Hare, and taking one of their trains to Rockford or Peoria. B&O would own a trucking company too.
Fast-forward to today. What business is Zappos in? Selling shoes online? Nope. When Tony Hsieh started the company he knew they’d have to offer free shipping, both ways, because shoe-fitting is so random. Advisers and investors said he was crazy. Said it would never work–too risky and too expensive. But Tony had a secret. He knew what business they were about to enter (and it wasn’t selling shoes online). Ask Tony what business Zappos is in and he’ll tell you, “We create happiness.”
Whenever I ask a woman if she’s heard of Zappos I get one of two answers:
2. “I love Zappos!”
And it’s almost always #2.
BTW…two years ago, Amazon bought Zappos for $800 million.
So if you work in advertising or marketing, maybe you’re a storyteller that helps businesses grow. (That’s the business I’m in.)
And if you’re a teacher, do you think maybe you help kids learn how to make their dreams come true?
What if you cut hair in a women’s salon? I think you might be in the business of helping women find their inner beauty, and proudly display it.
One more time — what business are you in?