Unfortunately, as the ascent and strangleholds of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook shows all of us, “Network Effect” normally costs tens and hundreds of millions – even billions. Almost nobody gets a shot at being a Silicon Valley “Unicorn.” 99% of those who do, get stabbed to death. Dead on arrival.
In 2018, I conceived an alternative. I called it “Network Effect for Mere Mortals” – the Planet Perry version of what makes eBay, Uber and Airbnb competition-proof.
Back then, to be honest, it was more theory than reality.
However, Ed Harycki had sold LoanBuilder to PayPal for megabucks 3 months before. We had been scheming together for a couple of years. So I definitely was NOT making any of this up.
I called it Rosetta Stone. My master formula for competition-proofing small companies. It was more a patchwork of essential patterns and fragments than a polished, “proven” formula that others had repeated 100 times.
Yet I was confident. We held the now-legendary Rosetta Stone seminar on three gorgeous days in May in Chicago. People are still buzzing about that event. Astute Planet Perry members began executing the strategies I unveiled there.
Today: patterns and fragments no more. It’s the veritable engine room of Planet Perry. It’s how we grow businesses from $1 million to $10 million while making them simpler, more irresistible and bulletproof. Even $100K businesses (like David Nadler’s Facebook agency below) use it to make their companies more elegant, easier to run, and more appealing to clients.
It has already put 20-40 “in the know” Planet Perry members 5-10 years ahead of the pack. Real years. Not internet dog years.
Tom Donald is a Roundtable member from London. Musician. He founded London Contemporary School of Music.
You would think music lessons, traditionally face-to-face, would tank during COVID. For the vast majority of music teachers that was true.
But Tom pulled record sales in 2020, despite the fact that he had to completely pivot away from in-person instruction and onto Zoom.
Exactly a month before COVID slammed Europe with hurricane force, Tom arrived at Rosetta Stone London. As a result, Tom flipped deep disadvantages into advantages and re-oriented his entire team to virtual, far beyond what anyone would normally expect an online piano lesson company to do.
He and his team shattered previous assumptions about their business. Unlike all his competitors, cowering in their spare bedrooms and praying for government relief checks, Tom recognized that nearly every disadvantage could, by modestly applying technology, switch into a Network Effect for Mere Mortals Moat.
Now everything that used to work against Tom (like the fact that students could no longer go for in-person lessons) works TO TOM’S ADVANTAGE. Not only acquiring customers but building a big fat moat around his castle.
When COVID flipped Tom’s universe from 80/20 to 95/5, Tom seized command of the “Top 5% tier.” Post-pivot, he’s adding international clients far beyond London, further strengthening his moat.
This transformation is accelerating in industry after industry. The other day I had a consult with Chris in the construction business. He runs a narrow niche firm, sourcing custom product from various suppliers and drop shipping to customers. All his business is driven by his website.
Chris already applied Network Effect for Mere Mortals to make 35% profit margins in an industry where 8-12% is the norm; to become the undisputed #1 player.
Chris had already made THE SHIFT. His biz is now a well-oiled machine and he spends several hours a day networking and indulging his curiosity. His business is up during COVID (record sales, 8% over last year), but this is just the beginning.
He says, “During the 2008 crash, we had been forced to try a bunch of crazy stuff. Back then I discovered a specific way of shipping product that would make entire parts of the supply chain unnecessary. I’ve been keeping it in my back pocket.
“The other day I realized, if we could solve [he went on to describe his very specific chicken-and-egg problem, common to ALL Network Effect businesses] we could turn this entire industry upside down.”
I goaded him: “Chris, what would it take to prototype this thing, operate in ONE city or state, six weeks from now – even if you have to carve the product out of a bar of soap?” The answer was already inside him; all it took was someone to ask.
Chris’s next adventure is: Turning his tiny corner of the construction industry upside down and shaking it until all the spare change falls out of its pockets.
An entire calcified good-old-boys-club that is NOT serving customers, NOT innovating, NOT earning its bread is going to tumble like icicles crashing to the ground from a roof on a late winter day.
THE SHIFT, baby. Long live the revolution.
Why NOW is Prime Time for You to Make Your Move:
- Most businesses are waiting for the wrecking ball to come smashing in – yet pretending it can never ever happen (like Americans in February 2020 assuming “coronavirus” could never jump from Italy to the whole friggin’ United States… remember?)
- Most industries are ripe for disruption. When my son Caden graduated from high school, we rented a party awning for the backyard. The awning guy arrived at 7:30am with the wrong model. “So sorry, I’ll go back and get the right one. Be back in an hour.” My day was full of appointments I had to shuffle around. 2 ½ hours later he returns. This sort of incompetence is rampant,and every time someone solves it, they can also, if they choose, consolidate dozens of local businesses into well-run regional or national concerns. Will it be you? Or the other guy?
- COVID has merely accelerated what was already underway – world is more web centric, more network effect based. Have you kept up?
- In many industries, he who owns the leads and owns the web traffic owns the business. We call this Tactical Triangle Takeover. This means agencies who are real strategists (and not merely carpetbaggers) can grab their industry by the balls and own it. But it takes balls to do it, and not everyone has ‘em.