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Get Small And Direct

I’m In Love With Paradox!

I’m in love with paradox. Most of my ideas and the ideas of others that attract me carry a seed of conflict. Eat more fat to lose fat. To automate is human. Online tools make for the best offline experiences. My best successes come from what I learn through failure. And so on.

This idea I want to share with you is like that.

The Future is Small, Direct, and Diverse

To win, we all have to get a lot more small and specific. I can’t just serve people who want to grow their business. It’s too vague. You can’t just serve homebuyers or people who like to eat or whatever.

Single-food restaurants are on the rise. They’re never exactly 1 item, but one pure focus. Baohaus in NYC. Shake Shake. Menus with under ten items.

Specific solution fitness trends like Peloton cycles and Soulcycle are edging out everything gyms. Dollar Shave Club sold one product for a while, earning it a $1 billion sale to Unilever. Meanwhile, most of the businesses that are diffuse and diverse are stumbling. The age of being all things to everyone is over. For me. For you. I’m in love with paradox!

People Want What They Want

The big win is in helping people get exactly what they want. There were other ways to pay to stay on someone’s property before Airbnb came alone. Airbnb just made it easier and more direct.

There are three levers I look at often these days when it comes to business,

Velocity, does this get the buyer what they want faster?

Friction, does this remove confusion or irritation for the buyer?

Connectedness, is this something worth sharing with others?

Those first two are huge. If you can improve velocity or reduce friction, you stand to win over others.

There’s a little pastry shop in town. I’ve said for a while that she would likely get a bunch more sales if she pushed for event pastries.

Wine and book club parties, that sort of thing. That would improve the velocity of delivering a gift or augment an experience.

Make it so I can buy online with a card? Pow. Less friction, too. I’m in love with paradox!

But Diversity Might Also Be Important

Okay, here’s where the paradox comes into play.

Walmart is on a spree of buying online companies like Modcloth, Bonobos, Jet, Moosejaw and more. None of those brands immediately make you think of Walmart, and that’s the point.

McDonald’s does the same thing. Their #1 product isn’t burgers. It’s real estate. Plus they buy other restaurant properties that you might also visit if you’ve evolved beyond Chicken McNuggets.

The paradox is this,

Diversifying your small-and-focused properties seems pretty important for this strategy to win.

It’s tough to earn people’s attention, so if you splinter it, that’ll make it even more difficult.

For years and years, the model has been, get everyone into the same place. Bunch them up. The more volume, the better.

That’s still how Walmart stores work. You go there because it has everything. But for those of you who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart, you’re ideal for Modcloth and so-on.

But now think about that,

Walmart can’t exactly advertise Modcloth in its stores

So they have to split their marketing efforts and stay targeted.

Go Small And Direct, Consider Diversifying After A Fashion

You’re not Walmart. You lack the staff and resources to launch a ton of businesses at present. But you could make a flagship business that serves a very specific, more specific than you’re doing right now, customer, get that running well, and then build a second and more diverse platform.

Both will need your time and attention. You’ll have to focus on one before the others. And that might mean rearranging your business, your offerings, and your online presence to match this.

WeWork got very successful building one product, Coworking spaces.

They then moved to get more specific and diverse, through investments like the female-only coworking space, The Wing.

That’s the game plan, as far as I can tell. Get small and direct. Then diversify.

What would that look like for you? What has to change? And who would you target?

You let me know?

I'm in love with paradox

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