The Orchid Principle

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How do we build a business? This is the ultimate question. Our quest to grow our company into our vision is something we all strive for. But how do we do this? How do we market ourselves in order to build awareness and attract our ideal clients? Some of life’s greatest questions have the simplest answers. I will attempt to offer my philosophy as to one of business’s greatest questions.

I’ve titled this article: The Orchid Principle. Have you or someone you know love Orchids? Orchids need an incredible amount of tender loving care. They need to be fed, watered, and even placed next to a compatible fellow orchid in order to prosper and grow. You may wonder, is all this worth it? Well, yes! Orchids, when they are properly cared for will bloom continuously for over a year! This is a major payoff. You may be asking yourself, this is interesting, but what does it have to do with building a business?

In my course, The Designer’s Coach I describe 6 Fatal Flaws of a design business.

1) No Strategic Vision

2) Uncooperative Teamwork

3) Haphazard Marketing

4) Amateur Selling

5) Faulty Client Fulfillment

6) Poor Negotiation Skills

Each one of these flaws can be overcome by understanding The Orchid Principle. Let’s look at each flaw, and see if we can relate the growing of orchids to the growing of our business.

No Strategic Vision

Does your business operate without a vision of where you want to be in 5 years? Do you function day to day by making decisions that have no strategic basis? As the leader, you need to lead with a plan.

Let’s look at our orchid garden. Your goal in 5 years is to have the most beautiful collection of orchids. You can close your eyes and see the orchids with their fabulous intricate design and intense color. You have hundreds of them. Your greenhouse is a festival of amazing orchids.

Now, close your eyes and imagine your business 5 years from now. Is it the orchid garden in your dreams? Can you see your ideal business? Like an orchid, can you see the shape of it, the textures, and the colors? Who is your ideal client? How will you reach out and find her?

Uncooperative Teamwork

Whether your company is a one person operation or has dozens of people on the payroll, your business must operate as a team. Does your team understand your strategic vision? Do you strive to make sure your messages that you try so hard to create, are not undermined by uncooperative employees or contractors? It is a serious problem when your team works in an unharmonious state.

Did you know that orchids do better when they are teamed next to compatible specie? This is teamwork! It takes a trained grower to know this about orchids. You must build a team too, even if you are the only one in your organization. Team members include not only employees, but suppliers and vendors as well.

Haphazard Marketing

Many times I have seen money thrown at advertising as if it would magically encourage appointments. This is an ineffective attempt to generate leads through misappropriation of resources. What ends up happening is paying an extraordinary amount for a lead. Additionally, the most valued type of lead, the referral, is basically ignored or taken for granted.

Many growers of orchids attend Orchid Shows. I recently attended one this spring at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This is truly an amazing event. Each seller of orchids sets up fabulous displays, one outdoing the next. If each vendor sells the same exact product, orchids, how do they generate awareness? The successful ones do it with great arrangements, displays and specialization. They know the magic of merchandising, display and finding a niche.

How will you get noticed? What will separate you from the competition? What will be your niche? How will you create a brand? Simply placing an ad in the local paper, is throwing your money away. Marketing is a careful process of creating a perception and awareness of who you company is.

Amateur Selling

I have seen people try to sell without a plan or system. This leaves the designer working in a confused state. At times you may be selling on price, and sometimes on value. The design team has not established a position in the mind of the consumer, and projects no clear value message. There is also the problem where the sales team is not properly trained, and appears unprofessional.

Orchids need to be nurtured and cared for, and so do your clients. Each orchid can give you years of growth. New shoots grow off old ones. Your clients who you take care of will refer you to clients just like her. You build a business one client at a time. There is exponential growth in focusing on getting the most you can from each client. Getting to know all about her, and encouraging her to give you referrals.

Faulty Client Fulfillment

Once the deposit is received and the order process is underway, so begins the task of fulfilling your promises. This is the critical area where most businesses fail. There is very little room for error in meeting the expectations of your clients. This is because, if the perceived value is not achieved, the client will consider that her expectations have not been met, and then the consequences could be an unhappy client. To achieve flawless client fulfillment, systems must be created and implemented.

Did you know that growing orchids successfully also takes a system? Orchids to thrive need proper light and are first fed for growth and then fed to bloom. If problems occur, there are special foods to encourage growth or hardiness. If the orchid becomes overgrown, it must be gently cut, split and replanted or the original orchid may die.

Orchid growers have knowledge of these systems because they have been tested for many years. You must develop your own systems. Some will be unique and some will be time tested industry standards.

Poor Negotiation Skills

How do you negotiate? Do you understand the nuances of the negotiation process? Are you able to analyze correctly who the decision makers are? After establishing your business as value-based, are you able to receive your just reward? It all comes down to this, the bottom line. The final measure of success will depend on your margins. This is a complex business, and unless you understand that your business must work on certain margins, you will not succeed. Most businesses will price each job as to the urgency of the cash flow status and not understand the detrimental effects of a price cut.

How does this relate to orchids? Have you seen the price of orchids lately? Do you think orchids are priced on a cost plus method or what the client is willing to pay? Orchids stir emotions, and the orchid seller knows this. How will your business stir up the emotional side of your clients?

Decorating is an emotional based decision. Your business provides the best opportunity to sell products at top dollar. It is up to you, do you want to sell daisies or orchids?

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