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Episode 56 – Cookie Cutter Or Custom: What’s The Best Approach In Business?

What is a cookie-cutter approach?

We use the term cookie cutter to indicate each one is the same, like a guaranteed formula for something that works.

In baking it means all your cookies should come out the same shape.

In business, franchises are the most extreme example of this.

They take a proven business model that you can slot in to but you have to do everything exactly by the book.

Which appeals to you more: a tried-and-true method for accomplishing something; or a personalised, totally unique approach?

I actually think there’s a middle and better ground on this.

A lot of people offer their secret formula to do X, Y, or Z….. or the blueprint to something or other, and it makes you wonder if there really is some secret to doing things that you don’t know.

For some people, this is really attractive, because it’s something that has worked for other people, and therefore it should work for you, right?

Other people advertise a “no cookie-cutter approach,” where every case is different.

Everyone wants to feel like they are special – me included, so there’s certainly an allure there of having advice tailored specifically for you.

So what’s the best way of starting or growing a business?

Is doing things differently the way to go or is following an established path better?

Understand who you are and what you want

One of the first things to consider is who you are and what you want.
Some people prefer to use time-tested established processes.

Others are natural innovators.

Neither is right or wrong but it’s important to know what you want.

In my Entrepreneurial Design Profile that preference is denoted by your Direction Type.

If you have the Direction Type Innovative you are likely to go mad if you need to follow someone else’s rules.

Then, at the other end of the spectrum if you have the Direction Type

Trusted you will feel lost without some structure.

I personally have the type Agile which means I have a tendency to want to do things differently but I also pay attention to what’s worked before.

So first know your innate preference on this. Do you like to be in charge, and direct how things are done, or do you prefer to be more directed and follow what has worked before.

If you haven’t got your Entrepreneurial Design Profile you can get it here.

Remember though, the more ‘cookie-cutter’ your business is the more restrictive it is likely to feel

Most people start working for themselves because they want more freedom and more control over their life experience.

Whether that be how they work, where they work or how long they work or all three.

You want to strike a balance between reducing the risk by using trusted processes and getting what you really want.

I can’t emphasize this enough many people choose a business based on what they think will work or what has worked before without considering how they will feel running that business on a day by day basis.

Ideally you want to build a business around your personality and how you like to work to give you the best chances of success.

Beware of ‘step by step’ formulas and blueprints

The Internet is full of people offering formulas and blueprints.

To the extent that I’ve even been asked to use those words in a testimonial before when I didn’t believe the person actually had either of those things.

Step-by-step, blueprint and formula are used by a lot of people who don’t really understand what those terms mean.

What they should mean is that I can come in as a complete novice to your world and follow your sequence that guides me through all the decisions I need to make and work I need to do to come out with a result at the end.

Unfortunately what it often means in reality is that the course owner or coach has numbered their training modules and you learn about different concepts but don’t know how to draw it together to get results for your unique situation.

The psychology link – strategies that work

Regardless of the terms people are using, there are certain ways of approaching problems at a high level that work.

And usually the reason they work is because they come down to psychology and basic human behaviour.

That’s why having a particular website layout will get people to take the action you want them to take or why certain copywriting tricks work — because they push on buttons that are universal.

So how do we leverage what works without being too restrictive?

The value of frameworks

I personally like to work with frameworks.

A framework allows you to take the strategies that work but gives you the flexibility to apply them to each case individually.

For example, my Ignition program guides people through a framework to set up a business that works, because it’s based on fundamentals that are accepted truths.

If you think about it in order for your business to be successful, you need to go through a number of steps.

You need to choose the business idea, decide how to communicate the value of it to other people, you have to decide on something to sell, learn how to sell it and figure out the best way for people to find out about your business in the first place.

But every business is different, just as every person is different.

A framework allows for that. A well-designed process allows for that.

It doesn’t say your business must be on social media and it doesn’t say everyone must run a webinar, it allows for fluidity and flexibility so that each business is set up to fit it’s owner.

While at the same covering all the essential bases so the business will actually work.

The framework is the bones that support your business, but how you flesh it out and dress it up will be completely different for each person.

And THAT, in my opinion, is the sweet spot between a cookie-cutter system and a custom-tailored approach.

Leverage what works, but stay individual.