“It’s easy to add… It’s hard to stay focused. And so the hardest decisions we make are all the things not to work on.”
– Steve Jobs
I once spoke with an entrepreneur whose business was DVD rentals, pizza, ice cream, video games, candy, pool tables, audio installation, and Beanie Babies… All under one roof.
Did he make money?
Supposedly, he did in the first year…
Likely because curious consumers entered his business because it was new and wanted to try it out…
Did it last?
About as long as a duck swimming in a pool of piranhas.
That’s the inevitable result of not building your business around a core product or service.
Now, one of my “guilty” pleasures used to be watching the television show The Profit with serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis.
(Yes, you must be thinking I’m a real “badass” if my guilty pleasure is watching a show about making more money… Woo-hoo!)
During an episode featured in early July 2015, Marcus introduced a really important point that I need to share with you today – because I see the same problem among several entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with… And it’s as relevant today as it was then.
Let me explain…
Unlike the many companies on the show that appeared to be grasping onto life like a fish out of water, The Lano Company was reasonably successful, boasting 2014 revenues of $2.3 million and profits hovering around $400,000.
Not bad, right?
Yet, they had a problem.
A big one…
The business model was unsustainable.
The majority of the sales came from an estimated 10% of their total products.
And while that was a challenge that could be easily overcome with the right strategy…
The bigger problem was that so many of The Lano Company’s products were unrelated to the original branding of the company. You see, The Lano Company made its mark with the original use of medical grade lanolin, chiefly its healing effect on chapped lips.
However, as the company grew, the founder got away from using lanolin, and hence, it became unclear what business The Lano Company was really in.
For example, what do make up brushes have to do with lanolin lip balm?
And why wouldn’t their lipgloss contain lanolin?
It didn’t make any sense – and evident by the stockpiles of unsold inventory and feedback from a wholesale buyer, it confused consumers who didn’t see how the product lines connected with each other…
Their products were entirely unrelated, like if Ferrari started selling station wagons.
Then comes Marcus Lemonis, bringing his multi-billion dollars of experience, and introduced what he calls the:
HUB AND SPOKE MODEL
Here’s how it works:
The center of the wheel, known as the hub, represents your core product or service. It’s the core product that you build your entire business around.
For example, when I was in real estate development, I built and sold houses… That was my hub, my core business.
From the hub stem complementary products/services…
In my real estate development business, complimentary services included: driveway seal coating, alarm systems, home theater installation, interior furnishings, and so forth.
They were all part of “making a house a home” and delivering the ultimate result my clients were seeking.
Now, please note: I was not in the “business” of driveway seal coating, etc. – however, it was a complementary offering to my core product, which was building homes.
For Lano, Marcus brilliantly advised the owners that, in order to succeed, they had to focus and build their company around their “hub” – and the benefits associated with medical grade lanolin on the skin.
JT Marino and Daehee Part, founders of Tuft & Needle, said:
“… Focus helps communicate the purpose of your product to the world. It helps your customers’ understanding of what it us you do and how it compares.”
Where many people think “more is better” – only the select few understand that less is often more.
What’s your hub? Do all of your offerings connect to it?