Open Menu

Your product isn’t what you think it is

At EMyth, we know one of the most important shifts a business owner must make is to see their business itself as their most important product. But you might be wondering: “What does that even mean?”

It is typical, maybe even second nature, to consume yourself with the “end” product or service your business offers. Making it as perfect as possible—whether it’s a cup of coffee, a car repair, or a consulting package—makes perfect sense, right?

We’re not arguing that excellence in your product doesn’t matter. But we know that a different approach and focus will actually make your business better and more valuable in the long term. When we ask you to focus on the business as the product rather than the actual product or service you provide, it’s so you can start to focus on the business system. Unless you want to keep reproducing the same results that you’re getting now, it makes sense to work on systems that improve the business as the product over time.

What Is the ‘Business System’?

The business system is the way you deliver your product. And above everything else, even above the quality of what you think your product is, your number one goal should be to provide your customers with the same experience they have come to expect, consistently, every time.

For them, it’s not what you do that is most important but how you do it. The how is what allows you to duplicate processes and, ultimately, outcomes. The how creates the experience. The how—much more than the what—is what brings people back over and over again.

Here’s an example:

Think about a cheeseburger. Everybody knows what a cheeseburger is and more than likely where they can find their favorite one. (If cheeseburgers aren’t your jam, enter your favorite food or restaurant here.) I would be willing to bet that as you imagined enjoying your favorite cheeseburger at your favorite restaurant, a lot more elements came into play than just the food itself.

You see, a good cheeseburger only goes so far. In fact, it’s not so much the cheeseburger that you enjoy as it is the entire experience. You can only make a cheeseburger so many ways, and the competition down the street makes a pretty darn good one as well.

There’s a reason this is your favorite. You may even be willing to wait in line for it.

And that’s because your location of choice realizes you are not just there for their food, but that unconsciously you are also paying attention to everything else that happens during your visit. A part of you notices the friendly staff, the clean and brightly-lit restaurant, the upbeat music, and the fact that you only had to wait a few minutes before your meal arrived, piping hot and neatly wrapped in its familiar packaging.

If they simply focused on their cheeseburger and only their cheeseburger, the experience you care about would constantly change and therefore become less memorable, special, and desirable. It would become a commodity, and they’d have the kind of business that has to depend on sales and coupons to get customers instead of its raving fans.

Where Is Your Focus?

Are you putting all your attention toward making the perfect “cheeseburger” (the “product”) and spending almost none on the business system that delivers it? Many business owners make this same mistake because they’re often more skilled in crafting a great product or service than they are in owning and operating a world-class business.

Here’s what happens when you focus exclusively on the tangible product or service you provide:

You don’t plan, you react. You live in the moment, with all its excitement and chaos. You’re consumed with the short-term success of today, so there’s no thought of consistency tomorrow. You’re always jumping in to put out fires instead of leading. You’re exhausted and frustrated.

Do you ever wonder why you have worked so hard for so many years, yet some things never seem to change?

The good news is, none of it has to continue. You can find the change you’re looking for with just this small shift in perspective: You need to shift the way you relate to your business.

Now, let’s see what it looks like when the opposite occurs and you focus on the business as the product instead:

You pause. You dive deeper. You concern yourself with the big picture and long-term success of the business. When something goes wrong, instead of just putting out the fire, you ask yourself, “What do we have to put in place to ensure this never happens again?” You invest in your people and their growth, instead of relying too heavily on any one key person. You understand that the number one goal is to get your team to a place where they are constantly asking themselves, “What can we do to improve the business? How do we make the system even better?”

To Entrepreneurs, the business is the product. To Technicians, the business is a place to go to work every day. To Entrepreneurs, the business operates without them. To Technicians, the business operates because of them. This awareness alone is a gigantic leap in the right direction.

This small but impactful shift in perspective is the groundwork for creating a business that is no longer dependent on you—or anyone else—for survival. It’s what has to happen to provide your customers with a consistent experience—one that you’re currently working too hard to create from scratch every time.

Use Frustrations to Improve Your Business

A lot of business owners never get the chance to make this necessary perspective shift because they’re too busy handling day-to-day frustrations.

But what if you saw your frustrations as clues for how to improve your business?

Try this: Instead of jumping in to “help” this week or focusing on what “has to get done,” step back and ask yourself why this is happening in the first place—why are you really frustrated?

If you think about the way you do business as the real product, suddenly each frustration you experience has something important to teach you. The truth is, there’s a problem: something flawed in the business design that is allowing this issue to show up, especially if it’s not the first time. If you simply put a bandaid on it, it’s only a matter of time before it shows up again. These kinds of short-term fixes are honestly a waste of your time.

Do Your Own R&D

I’d like you to make it a priority to focus on root causes this week. Put a piece of paper on your desk and start a list of the frustrations that show up. Then, set aside 30 minutes at the end of the day to review this list and document what the real problem is and why it’s happening. What change would you have to make in the business to assure something like this never happens again? How does the way you do business need improvement? This is where continuous innovation happens—where your business system gets better, stronger, and more valuable.

So forget about the cheeseburger this week and focus on the experience. You’ll build value in the business and increase another priceless asset—customer satisfaction and loyalty. (You’ll also make yourself feel more sane in the process.) They’ll come back for more, because they’re finally getting the product that’s really important to them.

What would it take for you to start treating your business as the product? Come to our free EMyth Masterclass: Seven Steps to a Business that Works and get started now.

Your turn. What experience does your business provide and what is one aspect that could be improved? Comment below!

Matt Wilhelmsen

Written by Matt Wilhelmsen

Matt Wilhelmsen is an EMyth Coach and owner of freak. Business Coaching. Matt challenges his clients to bring all of themselves to their business. He's inspired daily by his clients and their tenacity to create something most people only dream of. It's because of his clients that he jumps out of bed each morning. In his free time, Matt loves to spend his time outdoors with his wife Stacy and twin boys. Learn more about Matt here.