Your Business on the Back of an Envelope
By Dick Cross
The scene: Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport … past midnight … waiting for the last plane out … you know the scene. In the dim light of Gate 33. Twisted torsos in sticky blue vinyl seats awaiting the ultimate horror: three hours in a middle seat, meant for cargo, not human beings.
But not me. I’m fully caffeinated. And I am wired! Over the next three hours I have to figure out whether the business I’ve paid handsomely to visit that week warrants investment. And I’m not too sure how to get that done.
Settling in under the glow of the yellow-ish overhead light, I start to sketch – instinctual from my undergraduate training in architecture. What appeared on my yellow pad that night was the back of a No. 10 envelope.
At that moment I started to see patterns. For doing things, in addition to what the business always had done for its customers, that might help them with a fear, or make them feel better about themselves and build their loyalty. Turning them from average customers into zealots. Who might attract others.
My first trip around the envelope didn’t make sense. Too grandiose a scheme for the realizable Competencies. But it was a solid step forward. By the fourth circuit through the logic I had something great. A way of looking at the business that was fresh, optimistic and that no one else had imagined.
I did great on Monday morning. The investor bought the business, executed my Back of the Envelope scheme and sold it three years later with an exceptional gain on sale, due to performance improvement, hatched late one night “on the Back of an Envelope.”
But most rewarding? The people running the business had turned into zealots too. They looked forward to getting to work every day. With my Back of the Envelope model in their heads. They gave their all. And they felt like their work was more than work. An enriching part of their lives. More of a service. And a calling.
You can do the same thing. With the same results. Starting on the Back of an Envelope!
Dick Cross is the author of “Just Run It,” an Amazon best-seller. He is founder and managing principal of The Cross Partnership Ltd., and is a consultant and speaker. He may be reached at email@example.com. Follow Dick Cross on Twitter – @DickCross.
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