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Opinion by Dave Goeppner: The Business Wheel

Published July 27, 2018

By Dave Goeppner

Editor's note: Dave Goeppner is the founder of Cycling Project Solutions and works as a contractor in the bike industry providing short- and long-term project support in finance, sales, marketing and strategy.

Anyone who operates a business within the bike industry knows how challenging things are today. From new competition to consumers' changing buying habits and shifting demographics, trying to adapt can be difficult. My suggestion is to approach these challenges by viewing your business as a wheel.

If you have experienced success in the past, it's most likely because your business provided customers with something unique that added significant value — such as exceptional customer service, the best selection, the highest fill rates or the most innovative products. This is your identity in the eyes of your customers.

Now, as your business faces new and simultaneous challenges, it is tempting to make several changes in the hopes of finding something that works. The trouble is, if you make changes to the wrong parts of your business, you can quickly lose touch with your identity and, ultimately, your customers.

By viewing your business as a wheel, you'll instead take a disciplined, measured approach to making changes. You will protect and enhance what your customers value about your business. In addition, you'll find new ways to engage and service your customers.

It begins with writing down what your business is known for being the best at. This is your identity and is what your customers value about your business. Draw a circle around it. This becomes the hub of your business wheel. Be very careful that the changes you make do not weaken or distract you from your identity. If you are unsure of what you are the best at, or have the potential to be the best at, then I highly suggest reading Jim Collins' book "Good to Great."

Next think about your customers — past, present and future. These customers form the rim and tire of your business wheel. Your hub (identity) should connect with your rim (customers) via your spokes. Your spokes are the specific ways in which you execute your business model and deliver value to your customers.

Your spokes are where you want to focus your change efforts as you adapt to new competition, changing buying habits and shifting demographics. Begin by inspecting each spoke, just as you would when truing a wheel. Does each spoke connect your identity to your customer effectively and efficiently? If not, adjust it or replace it with a new spoke.

Key takeaways:

  • A successful business begins with being the best at something which adds significant value to your customers. This becomes your identity.
  • Your identity must be at the center of everything you do and every decision you make as a business.
  • Be careful not to make changes that weaken or distract you from your identity.
  • Adapt to competition and change by focusing on how to connect your identity to your customers.

Granted, this approach sounds simple, but when confronted with many challenges, businesses too often make matters worse by making changes that affect their identity. This can create confusion both internally and externally. The Business Wheel concept is a relatable and disciplined way to guide your company's internal discussions and decision-making as you adapt to today's rapidly changing and competitive business environment.


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