• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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How was your night? And the copy cat business model

I don’t know about you, but it seems that some phrases, slang expressions and jokes just take on a life of their own. One phrase which has suddenly become quite popular in Nigeria over the recent past, is : “How was your night?” This greeting seems to have been accepted as a standard greeting when you meet someone in the morning.  Everyone seems to use it without even knowing how it came about or the proper context to use the greeting. I recall a colleague of mine reacting angrily when someone asked her how her night was. Do you really want to know? she shouted.  Essentially, this greeting, like some other things in our national life, has just caught on, and people use them casually, not really knowing how they came about. A case of; if you can’t beat them, join them.
This syndrome also happens quite a lot in business- The copy cat business model. This happens when businesses copy an original business in its entirety without even understanding that model, the reason why the business is structured the way it is, or the reason why that business is doing what it’s doing. Often times, when people realise that an industry or a particular business within that industry prospers, they simply “cut and paste”. Sometimes, it could even be as bad as copying some aspects of the name, logo or tag line. Now, there’s nothing wrong in seeing a business model or business that works and wanting to model your business after it. But we must realise that every business is different. Every business has a soul and a life. Just the way that no two individuals are the same is the same way that no two businesses are the same.  So, even though you are operating in the same industry, offering the same products to the same set of customers, you must strive to ensure that your business is different from the pack. Your mantra should be “Differentiate or die!
So, the challenge to every business is how do I make myself different, even when I’m operating Inthe same industry? Here are a couple of pointers.
1.  You must define your organisational culture. Your organisational culture is that set of values and ideals that sets you apart. You must define your core values and ensure that it is consistently applied throughout the organisation. These would be thongs like “Service Excellence”,  “Integrity”  “Innovation”, ‘’Determination” “Respect for others”, e.t.c. These values should not just be buzz words, but you must make sure that they are drilled down through every staff and new joiners imbibe them. There must be champions for these values right from the top and you must define what all these values look like. For instance, service excellence could mean that no customer complaint should go unresolved for more than 24 hours.
2.  Define your brand. Whilst one of the steps involves getting a name and logo that stick in the mind of the public. It goes far beyond this. Your brand is simply “What do people remember when your company of product is mentioned? In order words how does the market perceive you and your products? What one word or phrase will they use to define your company and brand? Do they think quality, affordable, high class, low end, cheap, low quality, aspirational, must have, mass market…..  the list goes on.
3.  Add product or service offering modification. No matter how basic a product is, you can always offer an improved version an extra functionality or extra layer of satisfaction. Even basic water has variants like flavoured water, spring water, fresh water, still water and the likes. You must look for an additional functionality in order to differentiate yourself.
So, don’t follow the copy cat business model; running your business in a particular way because everyone does that. Sooner, ratherthan later, you’ll find that your business is extinct, confined to the history books. Don’t be confined to the past or usual ways of doing things. Brainstorm with other individuals outside your industry, speak to younger people, speak with people outside your circle. Get a different view, get a different perspective. Whatever you do, make sure you differentiate, or you’ll die.