Great entrepreneurs know their past successes are not predictors of future success. Actually, it’s bigger than that. Past successes can trap you in a rut. You can’t repeat the past to generate new opportunities.
Toocoo Media, for example, grew by over 2,000% in one year: from $200,000 in revenue to over $4,200,000! By the numbers, that’s success. But they are refusing to be complacent. What fueled their explosive growth is not what will fuel the next stage of growth.
You’ve got to be prepared to leverage your past to reinvent your business for the future.
Past successes are stepping stones
Toocoo Media is a digital marketing agency focused exclusively on retail and ecommerce.
Toocoo’s first phase of growth was fueled by a few very large client engagements. Jason Dea, COO of Toocoo explains, “We were fortunate early on to take on some heavyweight clients with deep pockets and big contracts. We helped two very large clients build online retail platforms who were launching new products.”
Toocoo’s early successes provided them the platform and resources to pivot. They developed a strong team, systems and expertise in online retailing, and the cash in their jeans to be strategic. Now Toocoo can afford to pursue a bigger market with higher barriers to entry.
It’s hard to be strategic when you’re just trying to survive, but early successes create breathing room. They give you the opportunity to pause, consider the brand you want to build, and the impact your company will make.
Ask, “What’s next?”
Your past success gives you an opportunity to plan for the future. Consider where your company is heading, and where you want it to go.
As Toocoo’s large client engagements were winding down their management team asked three questions:
- Where can we compete and win?
- Who do we want to serve?
- What impact do we want to make?
Their analysis led them to pivot from serving large companies to focusing on small and mid-sized retailers.
Jason says, “For every large client there are ten thousand, if not more, SMBs who are looking for companies with our expertise.” There’s only a handful of a very large consumer goods companies, and everyone is competing for their business. The mid-market is harder to reach, but with the right resources and approach it can prove even more lucrative.
What’s next for your company? What did you learn from your early successes that will help you pursue new markets and new opportunities?
Cannibalize past successes
Sticky Brands continually leverage past successes to open up new opportunities.
Apple is famous for cannibalizing their cash cows to launch new products: the iPhone displaced the iPod; the iPad is displacing the PC. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple said, “I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity for us. Our core philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we don’t do it, someone else will.”
Cannibalizing your past successes is exceedingly difficult. It’s hard to give up a predictable revenue stream for future opportunities. But if you are willing to cannibalize your past successes, you will find they are very nutritious for your business. Past successes provide you the insights and expertise to tackle new opportunities.
You past wins create the momentum and resources to chase new opportunities. Leverage your past successes to create even greater future success.