Have you updated your business model?

104641253 One of the uncomfortable truths about the last few years is that we're not going back to the old normal.  Perhaps it is a manifestation of the thought that Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed when he said:

"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

But…like our minds, our experiences and our expectations can't regain their original form, once they've been stretched (good or bad).  And boy, have the last few years stretched all of us!

Other factors have taken their toll as well.  Look at how our lives are different, simply because of the presence of:

  • the internet
  • mobile technology/phones
  • the expectation of on demand products and services (Netflix on your Wii for example)

When I say to someone….imagine for a minute that you didn't have a cell phone — they are instantly thrown into a panic state (in varying degrees) at the image.  I can remember walking through an airport (20 years ago) and seeing a guy on a huge cell phone.  At the time, I couldn't fathom why anyone would need or want one.  Now…like most of us, I very rarely have it further than an arm's reach away.

We get it when we're the consumer.  Life has changed, our consumption has changed and we aren't going back.  But….have your business model and practices made the same shift?

As you know…the Age of Conversation series donates all of the proceeds to charity.  The first two books benefited Variety, the Children's Charity.  But this year, we wanted to partner with a new organization.

We polled the authors and Make-A-Wish was the first choice.  So I reached out to them, to invite them to be the recipient of our efforts.  Keep in mind that books I and II generated well over $20,000.  So we're not talking chump change here.

The folks at MAW were very nice, quick to respond and connect.  But when I explained what we wanted to do — their business model got in the way.  We had to be willing to guarantee that each and every author would reference MAW in a certain way and only use their approved language on any blog post, tweet, Facebook update etc.

We can barely get everyone to turn in their chapters, so we knew there was no way we could make that promise.  MAW stood firm and walked away from the opportunity.

In today's world — that business model is broken.  I am the first to advocate for managing your brand.  But you cannot control every voice and you cannot regulate every potential evangelist.

Our second choice was UNICEF.  Through a personal contact (thanks LinkedIn) I was able to get to one of their big dogs on the charitable gifts side.  She passed me onto someone in her department, who literally ignored my calls for almost a month.  I even called and spoke to his admin assistant to get his e-mail address.  But he couldn't be bothered…and UNICEF lost the opportunity.

In today's world — that business model is broken.  Gone are the days when you can take your sweet time to return a call or ignore a potential customer.  We don't tolerate long waits anymore.  We just move on.  But…as we move on, we typically share the story (as I am) about the disappointing behavior.

Our third choice was charity: water.  Through a contact Andy Sernovitz (thanks word of mouth), we connected with Director of Digital Engagement Paul Young.  In two quick e-mails….we were on board and charity: water will benefit from the worldwide effort.  

charity: water understood the crowdsourcing model we use for creating the books.  They have an attitude of "assume everyone is good and will do good if you invite them" rather than the old, protectionism model of the past.  They also understood that in today's world, business is conducted in minutes, not days.

As a result — with your help, we're going to make sure many children around the globe has clean water to drink.

How about you and your business?  Have you changed with the times?  Do you embrace today's expectations, possibilities and new fangled ways of doing things?  Or are you still behaving as though the past 10 years never happened?


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