Too many times have I heard: "My business is too small to do that." I have heard this numerous times after delivering what we call an "Awake Session," where we introduce the ExO Attributes. If you are new to Exponential Organizations, the ExO Attributes are shown in the diagram below:
This model described in Exponential Organization outlines 11 attributes that can be leveraged to build a more resilient 21st-century company. The model relies on starting with a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) and then Five External and Five Internal attributes. You can learn more through the OpenExO complementary Foundations Training Videos.
The World Bank estimates that 90% of businesses globally are considered SME’s and they contribute to at least 50% of employment. Given that SMEs have been the most impacted sector due to COVID-19, it is critical to provide guidance, thought leadership, and real tools that can help SMEs survive and thrive in the future.
So why do many small businesses say that they are too small to implement the attributes?
There are numerous reasons why Small businesses may feel that they are not able to implement ExO:
- Smaller businesses tend to focus less on technology and more on the tasks at hand
- These organizations have less access to capital. This is quoted as a reason
- Many people are not aware of the multitude of tools that are available online at a low cost
- In a business that is just making it from month to month, the idea of making what seems like a strategy change can be daunting.
In reality, these reasons may not be valid, the ExO Model does not look to change your business model but rather augment it.
We believe that you need to have an MTP and putting this together can take time, especially if, as a business, you have never thought about your purpose beyond making money. Starting with your personal purpose and building from there is one way to go. You can use the Ikigai for your personal MTP and The MTP Tool in the ExO Attributes Toolkit. For example, you may run a corner store with an MTP of "building inclusive communities." This purpose would then inform how you run your business, from how you hire, what you stock, and how you interact with customers. Your MTP gives your business a north star and guidance on how to leverage the Attributes.
In our corner store example, let us look at the Attributes and how they could be implemented.
Staff on Demand
The business could definitely leverage staff on demand through online platforms for design, marketing, and outreach. They could have social media graphics designed by someone remotely at low cost and have a part-time social media manager that could be halfway around the world.
Community and Crowd
The business could build a community of customers who also believe in inclusive communities and draw in more customers who resonate with this MTP. This could include community outreach that is performed by customers and simultaneously promotes the corner store
The corner store could embrace technology through algorithms to determine what customers want in the store, there are online tools to help with this that are not prohibitively expensive. A simple example would be understanding better what to items stock when
With the community initiatives, the store could perhaps leverage infrastructure from the city due to the initiative being run. The store can easily leverage cloud computing at a low cost. Using an online tool like Canva would allow the business to leverage images and designs that they did not have to make. The corner store may also ask how their store could become a leveraged asset for other businesses by offering space for a startup to share their product
A simple engagement strategy could be developed that incentivizes customers to come back and to get their friends to come in. Perhaps a random prize generator could be used or the store could install a selfie mirror that encourages people to bring friends or have a community initiative that helps older customers take their purchases home with a leaderboard for the community helpers and quarterly celebrations of community helpers.
A corner store most likely has a manual interface. This could quite easily be updated to a computer running free software that will allow the store to track the purchases of customers in real-time. This interface that the cashier would use would then provide data that can improve customer experience as the cashier knows what the person has previously purchased.
In order for the team to know how the business is doing, they need to have a simple way to see this. Once again using affordable tools a dashboard could be created to track important metrics for sales and for the community programs.
Internally the store could run experiments to improve profitability and grow the customer base. The experiments would be designed based on data collected through the interfaces and community. Experiments in marketing are important too.
More autonomy would boost employee morale and result in better customer service and therefore greater customer retention and sales. With the MTP, interface, and dashboards make it easier to give more autonomy to the team working in the corner store.
Internally, the team can use chat and shared documents to ensure that everyone has insight into the business and community and can seamlessly communicate this, improving the effectiveness of the team.
The example above of the corner store shows how the ExO Model can be leveraged by micro-businesses. There are no excuses to start today! If you run a small business and want to understand what you can do take a look at the videos below from our ExO World: Small Business Summit.
Now is the right time to be embracing the Exponential.
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