Most people operate from cultural norms that are ingrained into all of us since birth. We've been taught (both consciously and subconsciously) that (woodworking) companies have their typical location, products, services, way of talking to the world, and so on.
These cultural norms are what give us the gall to say "We don't do that," or, "That's not how it works." We feel comfortable responding in a conformist way, because the culture supports it. Or does it?
Here's the secret that changed my life and made my company amazingly profitable once I realized its truth: Our culture encourages one behavior, but rewards the opposite. In other words, when something "safe," "tested," or "normal," it's not worth as much. You get paid more when you're an outlier. Commoditization is what happens when everyone in an industry pretty much does/sells/has the same thing. Sound familiar?
Look around you. The companies that are truly doing something important in the world (don't rule out lowly woodworking businesses), or who are having success are doing something different from everyone else. How many companies in our industry are similar to the next? How many of your competitors have a similar product line, services, pricing, blah, blah, blah...? How many standouts does our industry have? Those few are the ones having the courage to stand out against the current status quo and try something different. They aren't afraid to fail, but fail fast and cheap (A whole topic for another day), and they aren't afraid of being different
One of my most favorite messages of all time comes from a 1997 Apple commercial:
"Here’s To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do !"
You get paid more when you're an outlier.
If you read something like that and don't believe it applies to woodworking, then you're buying right in to what society has carefully taught you, and you'll only be as successful as society says you can be. However, if you read something like that and feel a spark inside you, then stop being scared and give the world what it's begging of you!
Who says you can't?
- Who says your shop can't build a cabinet while your customers wait in the "customer waiting area (eating popcorn and reading magazines)?"
- Who says you can't leave a dozen cookies after the install, or clean the floors for free?
- Who says you can't sell online, run your whole company from Maui, or never miss another one of your daughter's games?
There really aren't as many rules as you think there are, and breaking those rules is both liberating and profitable.
When we break the mold, people talk. Donald Trump (gasp) is just one example. Attention is the new currency. Attention is even more precious than money, and genuine attention can't be bought.
When we give someone what they want in a way they weren't expecting it, they'll thank us, pay us, and tell others (Aka: genuine attention).
Let's look at a parting example. Johnny cupcakes sells something even more common than cabinetry: t-shirts. They've built an amazing experience that makes them boatloads of money. http://kitchen.johnnycupcakes.com/story/
If this guy can twist t-shirts into a bakery experience and capture so much attention, what can YOU do with yours?
Break the mold, and fast; your profits depend on it!
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.