The Wise Entrepreneur

9 Lessons from the ‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin

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My dear entrepreneur, one of the things I have mentioned repeatedly in my blogs is the need for entrepreneurs to be informed. I have severally emphasized the need for an entrepreneur to be knowledgeable, and I will not shy away from reminding you about this. In my article entitled Top 8 Reasons Why Knowledge is Vital for an Entrepreneur I mentioned several advantages of knowledge to an entrepreneur. I also quoted John Dewey who once said that; ‘Knowledge is no longer an immobile solid; it has liquefied. It is actively moving in all the currents of society’.  Additionally, I quoted John Maurice Clarke’s words that; ‘Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.’

As we continue in our quest for knowledge, to empower ourselves to be better and more successful entrepreneurs, today I would like to share with you some lessons from a book entitled Purple Cow written by Seth Godin. I have not met this gentleman face to face but I think he has some very fantabulous ideas about how businesses should be run. I elaborate on some points I picked from his book. However, this is the way I have summarized the issues, and if you happen to read that book (which I encourage you to), you might come up with something very different from what I have gleaned. Ok? No cause for alarm.

Can we then look at these lessons?

  1. Making your business remarkable and unique is the way forward in this very competitive business world. As the global business world gets more dynamic and competitive, entrepreneurs have to be dynamic and competitive too. Isn’t this a truism? Enterprises must come up with something new, exceptional and interesting. Something frequently talked about, not boring and dull. This is why Seth used the purple cow as an example. I believe that the entire city would rush to see a purple-colored cow if it ever makes a mistake of passing around the city. Don’t you agree with me? So, the gist is this; create remarkable products that the right people will look for. There is no shortage of remarkable ideas unless you are not thinking hard enough. Just for your information, if you ever not yet read my blog entitled 7 Reasons Why Successful Entrepreneurship Requires Deep Thinking then I suggest you start with that.
  1. You don’t need to be outrageous to be remarkable. Never try to overdo it just for the sake of it! Ok? You don’t need to be outrageous in an effort to be remarkable. If you decide to be a clown to be remarkable, that is up to you, but I can assure you that you will transform from a businessman into an entertainer if you did that. This is not to say that entertainment is not business. Influential people are only ready to listen to your ideas if they are remarkable. Short of this you are simply invisible. Boring is failure. You can never follow a similar strategy with other businesses and think that you can be remarkable. Make the best of your unique product – as far as it goes – but create an environment that will replace that product in a timely manner, without being outrageous. I repeat – without being outrageous.
  1. The way to develop remarkable products and services is to challenge yourself and your team and test the edges. Review the other P’s in marketing, and sketch out where your edges are and where your competition is. Innovation comes from this process. Product modifications and variations could also create some uniqueness for you. I don’t think I need to dwell on the P’s as these have been common, though some new P’s are being added. The product, positioning, promotion, pricing, publicity, packaging have had elements such as pass-along and permission and even others added to them. Mr. Entrepreneur, you need to test the edges of your business decision in terms of the above. By the time you start testing the edge (pushing yourself and your team to the limit) regarding your packaging for example, you might come up with something new. The same goes for pricing, positioning etc.
  1. There is risk in safety. I have written about business risk before, and the need to take calculated risk and balance risk with reward. One big problem with us entrepreneurs is that some of us cannot touch risk even with a long spoon. Now, this is not good for this profession of entrepreneurship because entrepreneurs are risk takers. Without risk there is not much gain. Ok? So, being different is risk, but you have a choice to either avoid risk and be invisible, safe, un-criticized, and anonymous or you rather take the risk to be remarkable, unique and great. There is unpredictability. There may not be guarantees that your new idea will be a smash but you must try it out. Don’t you know that even the big multinationals that roll out new products frequently have people working in their research and product development outfits 24/7? Some products make it, others don’t but the whole game plan has to continue. Isn’t this amazing? Don’t we benefit from these experiments by means of great products we find sometimes in the market? Come on!
  1. The crowded market place requires you to innovate, not just advertise. You need to know my dear entrepreneur that you are dealing with a post-consumption consumer today. Why is this? You are marketing to people who have already bought great products and are probably reasonably or even very satisfied. There are endless choices but less time to sort them out. Too much noise in advertisements. People need good products and services to solve their problems but they don’t have time to spend attending to advertisements. The stark reality is that products with a future are principally those created by passionate people. So, advert money can be diverted to product development. Customers get better and better at ignoring mass media. In a crowded and busy market place, if you fit and don’t stand out you simple fail or become invisible. The market place is getting faster and fluid. You have to innovate, Mr. Entrepreneur. Get creative, and stop spending money like crazy on old and boring products. Period!
  1. The most effective business ideas are the ones that spread. You need sneezers as spreading agents. Sneezers are people who will speak for your products and services and create a virus-like effect. If you can achieve this virus-like spread that is better. It works like viral marketing. Do you get what I mean? When a new product or service comes on board or into the market, they are first sampled by innovators – people who like having things first. Can’t you see some of these around you? These are followed by early adaptors, people who like to maintain their edge above the rest of the folks in the population. However, sales that matter (in terms of volumes) are after innovators and early adaptors; I mean the early and late majority, before the laggards finally close the game and the product or service is done in the market. The majority is profitable but they are also good at ignoring you as they rely on good words from the innovators and early adaptors in most cases. Product and services should be remarkable enough to attract early adaptors and additionally, flexible and attractive enough to enable early adaptors to spread the news to the rest of the majority. Are you following this? Fantastic!
  1. Marketing must move into designing. Now, if you are a marketer and you think that you will continue in the comfort zone of routine marketing, then you are in for a surprise. First of all, entrepreneurs have become smart enough to know that marketing is too important to leave only in the hands of marketers. Secondly, marketing must transform into designing to remain relevant. Take it this way, the marketers interface more with the market and ideally should have good clues about what the market desires. Instead of simply passing these ideas to the design team that is totally disconnected from the market, they should themselves participate in design. Don’t you think this is a great idea? Soon we shall start having terminologies such as designer-marketers or something close to that.
  1. Develop a culture of aggressive prototyping of news products and services. The point here is this; having one or two remarkable products and services that make you always smile to the bank should not make you relax. Ok? The world and consumers are dynamic so your products which are stars today could be dull ones tomorrow. You have got to be on your toes. Let your enterprise be a place of aggressive experiments with new products and services. Additionally, hire people with a record of successful launching of new products and services. They can be handy to your enterprise.
  1. Smaller and mid-sized companies are more flexible and can adapt easily to the dynamic business world. This idea syncs with Charles Handy’s idea in his book entitled The Elephant and the Flea, in which he states that the business of the future will be lean, small and medium sized companies that are flexible to change. In other words elephants being superseded by flea organizations. These are enterprises that will operate like the flea (adaptable) and not the elephant that is big and slow to change. The idea is this; big enterprises tend to have inertia or the tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. This is being passive, inactive; lazy in short. They have complicated hierarchies and systems that are slow to change hence cannot easily become remarkable, or do remarkable things. This is not the case with small and medium scale enterprises, especially those that are determined to change. This implies that big companies will tend to lose in the new business world. Now, don’t accuse me for spreading this prophecy! Ok.

As I conclude my blog today, there is this saying that the best advice is to take advice. My advice to you is that you take the above pieces of advice. This has not come to your attention for nothing. It is for a purpose, so better make use of it before it’s late. Create your purple cows and you are certainly on the way to tremendous and sustainable business success. Are you not an entrepreneur? Why not also read this masterpiece entitled Top 6 Lessons for An Entrepreneur from the Eagle? Cheers!


The Wise Entrepreneur

Picture of Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka

Clayton W. L. Mwaka, a Ugandan chartered accountant and motivational speaker with 24 years of diverse experience, specializes in business administration, international consultancy, and lecturing. He advocates for personal empowerment through balanced living, qualitative leadership, and paradigm shifts, aiming to unlock individual potential globally.

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These are very interesting and most awaited books for your growth.

9 Lessons from the Purple Cow by Seth Godin

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Books by Clayton.