Sunday, May 16, 2010

Louie's Pizza Is Proof, The SMB Market Does Not Exist

I spent most of last week in Scottsdale, AZ attending the Sirius Decisions conference along with 500 senior sales and marketing executives from around North America. (photo: courtesy of Google images)

In addition to extremely peaceful 5:30 am walks across the property, (I was still on east coast time, lest you think I'm an early riser by nature!), I participated in several interesting sessions. Most of which I found insightful. And yet,
even at this conference which was all about the buyer's journey, demand centers and the value of segmentation - speakers talked about SMBs, small & midmarket companies as if they are grouped together as a single market. Or in the case of Sirius Decisions the SME, small & midsized enterprise market.

I'm here to tell you there is no SMB/SME market. If you believe that there is such a thing as the SMB market you would treat Louie's pizza in Woburn, MA the same as Domino's. Do they have some things in common - yes. They both have roughly the same number of employees at a given location. The primary menu is pizza of various sizes and in my neighborhood they serve the same community.

And yet, the businesses couldn't be more unlike. Louie, the restaurant's namesake gets up in the morning and makes fresh pizza dough. He has no fancy on-line ordering system, pizza toppings are traditional, and the lunch line is out the door every day. Pizza is served until the morning dough runs out...could be 2pm, it could be 5pm, but every day it runs out.

Even though the individual restaurant looks similar on the surface, the business operations are starkly different. Domino restaurants have national advertising. They have centralized buying processes and their technology decisions are made by committee.

For everything they have in common, they have more that is different.Louie's is a small business. Domino's regional division is a midsized business.

As you are planning your next product launch, channel recruitment strategy or customer acquisition program think of our pizza example and remember there is a small business market and there are midsized businesses - and how you define them varies by industry, objective and organizational structure.

Lumping together organizations into the fallacy of an SMB market is a mistake. And so it would be if I ate anything for lunch tomorrow except Louie's cheese pizza with mushrooms. My mouth is watering already.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Three Ways to Make Sure Work Gives You Butterflies

My eleven year old was called in to pitch his first baseball game - bases loaded, no outs and the team down by three runs. Terrified but determined he walked out to the pitcher's mound. I took one look at his face, my heart began to race and my stomach turned into a knot. His first three pitches were balls. And at that moment I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And so did he. The fourth pitch was a strike.

After the inning was over I was beaming along with my son. He made it through and was on his way to pitch many future games. After I caught my breath I couldn't help asking myself when was the last time I felt this rush. To my pleasant surprise it was during a workshop at the office earlier in the week.

Nervous, excited, unsure. Parenting may be the best job in the world, but its also the hardest. And yet, it reminds me everyday what I should expect from my professional life. The way I see it, we spend more than 2000 hours a year in the office - we deserve to feel a rush now and then.

Here are three ways I make sure work gives me butterflies.

1) Get outside your comfort zone - create invigorating projects that not only drive bottom line results, but challenge you to think in new ways. This could be joining a committee in another department where you don't know the ropes, attending networking events that stretch your connections, or simply volunteer to help a peer brainstorm.

2) Don't settle - budget constraints, complex priorities and never ending meetings can make it easier to simple accept mediocre results but it doesn't have to be that way. Need more time - say no to 10% of your meeting requests, need more dollars - seek partnerships, unsure about your authority - earn it by jumping in to help a peer.

3) Celebrate success big or small - the act of recognition gives you a natural motivator - just like it did for my son.

The love you feel for family can never fully be replicated professionally, but you can set yourself up to feel proud, excited and enthusiastic about your work - and you shouldn't settle for less. You'll be doing yourself, and your business a favor.