Quit Running on Your Hamster Wheel

The Power and Popularity of Being Small

I love small, locally-owned businesses. I like their uniqueness and their personalities. Plus, I like discovering products from small companies that are hard-to-find and locally-made.

These are the original reasons that I first loved Colorado Native Beer, a beer that is exclusively made here in Colorado, one that can only be purchased right here in Colorado, and one that only uses Colorado ingredients. When I read the description of the beer for the first time on the ColoradoNativeLager.com website, I knew this beer was for me:

“Colorado Native is the only beer in the world brewed with Rocky Mountain water, Colorado-grown barley from the San Luis valley, the oldest strain of brewer’s yeast in Colorado and finished with hand-picked Colorado-grown hops.”

So imagine my surprise when I wanted to take a brewery tour of the AC Golden Brewery in nearby Golden, Colorado, only to learn that there were no tours. This seemed strange, since most of the other small craft breweries I knew welcomed the public to tour their facilities.

After I did a little more searching on the company website, here’s what I learned:

The AC Golden Brewery doesn’t have its own facility and is instead located in a corner of the Coors Brewery, likewise located in Golden.  Hmmm, I wondered: “Why didn’t they just say that this beer was brewed at Coors? Why all the mystery of where it’s brewed and the different brewery name?”

Well, here are some other facts I learned that weren’t shared, nor even printed on the label or the carton of the beer:

  • The AC Golden Brewing Company is a subsidiary of the MillerCoors company, created according to President Glenn Knippenberg, to “serve as a specialty brewing arm of MillerCoors.”

As I did a little more digging, I learned:

  • The MillerCoors Company (the parent company that owns the brewery that makes the Colorado Native beer), is itself a joint venture between the SABMiller Company and the Molson Coors Brewing Company, created in 2007.
  • That the MillerCoors Company joint venture has the responsibility of selling brands such as Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors, Coors Light, Molson Canadian, and Blue Moon beer in the United States.  The company also coordinates all the brewing for the brands of beer owned by the Pabst Brewing Company.

OK, wait, I thought. Now you’re telling me that the guys who brew Colorado Native also brew all these other beers?  But wait, there’s more:

  • The SABMiller Company (the one that owns MillerCoors, which owns AC Golden, that makes Colorado Native beer) is a British multinational brewing and beverage company headquartered in London, and is the second-largest brewing company in the world. It also sells and brews brands that include Grolsch, Peroni, Urquell, and a bunch of others.
  • Finally, I learned the SABMiller Company operates in 75 countries, sells around 21 billion liters of beer per year (which is the equivalent of 59,174,539,550 cans of beer – I had to use a calculator for that), and had sales of over $31 billion dollars (that’s billion with a B), last year.

So why wasn’t this information shared on the Colorado Native beer website, on the can, or on its packaging?

I can guess that it is not as good of a story to say that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that owns another multi-million dollar conglomerate that makes a “small craft brew” is in fact, a well-funded, minimally-at-risk venture of securely-employed brew makers, hanging out in a corner of the mother company, trying to act little.

The truth is that being an offshoot of a huge firm has none of the romance, charm, or entrepreneurial start-up feeling of an independent brewery. Consequently, without actually lying about it, large companies work very hard to keep their trendy brands separate from their mass brands. They work hard to build up the unique personalities of the brands and create original folksy stories and show non-slick videos that make them look considerably smaller than they are.

Which brings me back to the independent businesses that I love to support:  Why is it that so many Mom and Pop independent businesses don’t capitalize on their own uniqueness, their one-of-a-kind history, their distinctive personalities, and their own special quirkiness, and milk it for all it’s worth, when big companies are working extremely hard to create this mystique every day?

First, many owners don’t know it’s OK to do it. I think many believe that any eccentric uniqueness that pops up looks unprofessional, and I think that many independents believe that uniqueness doesn’t really matter.

Well, as you’ve seen with Colorado Native Beer, being small does matter. It caused me to originally bond to a beer that felt small and unique, only to later realize I was deceived by a multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

The lesson here: Uniqueness works. Branding yourself as small works. There is a power in being small, and showing it in everything you do.

But most of all, it’s important for independent business owners to tell their own stories, and it’s best you do it right now, before some big company decides to take your story for themselves.

Jon Schallert

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It’s a New Year: Quit Running

I’ve spoken and consulted in more downtowns in the United States (over 500), than any other business consultant , but one of my most memorable workshops happened in downtown Stamford Connecticut in April, 2003. That morning, before I addressed an audience of business owners, I decided to insert an image of a hamster running in its wheel. That image seemed to me to be similar to what I had seen owners doing, working extremely hard, endlessly repeating the same tasks, even though those tasks never helped them achieve the progress they wanted in their businesses.

When I flashed the image on the screen, an owner of a baby specialty store (where Katie Couric shopped, I remember him telling me), rose out of his seat and shouted:  “That’s me!”

The audience roared. That little hamster resonated with owners.

Fast forward a few years. On a whim, I decided to see if anyone knew why hamsters ran endlessly on their wheels. And to my surprise, I discovered Dr. Chris Sherwin of the University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Sciences, who had published a paper on “Voluntary wheel running”.

Who knew there was an actual expert who studied why hamsters run on their wheels! Intrigued, I downloaded and read Dr. Sherwin’s 40+ page treatise and I’ll summarize it for you:

Dr. Sherwin found that hamster running occurs when a hamster is part of a “captive environment”, and it has an “urge to remove itself from its immediate area”. As they run, they perceive their activity as being “important”, and the running itself becomes “self-reinforcing”, causing them to continue spinning in circles, going nowhere. Finally, their running is “a result of feedback dysfunction”. They think they’re getting somewhere, but they aren’t.

So how does this apply to you and your business?

If you’re in business today, you have your own hamster wheel, and no owner (including me), has mastered how to escape the wheel completely. We all have a hamster wheel because our business models (the process by which companies provides value to customers and they, in turn, provide company revenue), doesn’t always operate correctly, efficiently, and at its optimum level of profitability.

My guess is that most of you have never looked at how you can alter your business model.  You’ve just been doing it, day after day, week after week, and for some of you, year after year. It’s actually fascinating how an owner can create a business that year after year, generates about the same revenue as the last, and even more fascinating to me, how an owner can be annually as displeased with the results as the previous year, and still not change!

Want to change your business model. Here’s how to start, by asking yourself these four (4) key questions:

  1. What parts of your business model are still operating efficiently and profitably, and meet your expectations? (Think of the parts of your business that you’re satisfied with.)
  2. What parts of your business model are dysfunctional, inefficient, don’t create the revenue you want, or don’t make you happy?
  3. What changes would have to happen in question #2, that by the end of 2013, we can list it under question #1 next year?
  4. Finally, what would have to change in you for your business model to start working more efficiently and profitably?  (By the way, if you have a spouse or partner who is also a decision-maker in your business, this includes the changes they would have to make, too).

2013 is gone, it’s a New Year, and you have a choice: If you’re not generating the revenue in your business that you want, it’s time to look at your business in its entirety and question everything that doesn’t produce the results you want. You built this business, you created your business model, and frankly, you’ve built your wheel. And you have the choice to change it.

You’re not a hamster. 2014’s the year to quit running on your wheel.

Registration is open for our March 4-6, 2014 Destination BootCamp. if you’re unhappy with your current business results, check it out by clicking here.

You’re Not a Hamster, So Quit Running on Your Wheel

>Have you ever felt like you were running in place, and not making the progress you’d like to in your business?

If you own a business and you’ve felt like this, I have a webinar for you to watch.

If you work in a role where you interact with independent business owners multiple times in a week, you should watch this webinar, too.

This week, I took the time to create a new webinar: “You’re Not a Hamster, So Quit Running on Your Wheel: 12 Keys to Growing Your Business versus It Running You.”

(By the way, I went back and counted. There’s really 14 tips I give!)

We did a live broadcast from our Destination University studio earlier this week, and had hundreds of business owners, community leaders, and association directors watching.

But to make sure all of you had a chance to watch it, we’ve archived it and it’s now available to watch on-demand for a limited time.

To watch, simply go to www.DestinationUniversity.com and clicking on the Webinar tab at the top of the page. You can also connect immediately by clicking here.

Here are some key topics I cover in this webinar:

  • Why business owners today need to quit acting like business owners.
  • How to eliminate the sales plateau your business is in, what won’t work, and what will.
  • Why having your business in a city or town with a poor economy, bad parking, road construction, high rent, unmotivated employees, cheap customers, poor demographics, and the lack of community support is NOT an excuse for your business failure.
  • How to attract top customers with one fail-proof marketing tool.
  • How to know if your business model still is viable today or if it needs reinvention.
  • The 3 most common mistakes in going to a tradeshow, and 
  • Why your business is exactly like the Milton Bradley game Time Bomb, perhaps the most politically-incorrect game that would never be manufactured today

Yes, your business is ticking and you have limited time to act. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Again, take the time to listen to this new webinar of mine. If you don’t have time to watch the entire webinar, don’t worry. You can come and go as you please, and the webinar will start up right where you left off.

We’ve had calls from owners all over North America saying that the business tips I gave in this webinar are already helping.

Here’s hoping they help you too!

When you are done watching it, either post your comments down below, or email them to me at Info@JonSchallert.com. I want to hear your feedback.

Thanks!

Jon Schallert
www.JonSchallert.com
www.DestinationUniversity.com
www.DestinationBootCamp.com