Profit From The Core, by Chris Zook with James Allen, 186 pages Beyond the Core, by Chris Zook 214 pages
Reviewed by Lara Schmidt of Fraserhead
Upon handing me these books, Corinna said, “These are the books men in suits read on planes.” Meaning these books are serious – in a Harvard Business School kind of way. This was a bit intimidating to me at first, especially since I don't even have business plan yet. The further along you are in your business—meaning, I suppose, the better you understand what you want and where you are going—the more useful this book will be to you. It is full of case studies, diagrams, charts and statistics that illustrate what makes companies succeed and what makes them fail. It will prompt you to take a very analytical look at your business to identify strengths and potential areas of growth. It asks good questions and encourages you to do the same.
Because I am still in the planning phase of my business, I skimmed through this book to find the pieces of information that might help me better understand the concepts and challenges I will face in developing my product and market share. While I still don't quite know what my “core” is yet, I feel better equipped knowing how to make it strong and lasting once I find it. If growing your business is important to you—and I think it certainly should be—this book will teach you where and how to look for new opportunities.
Thesis of Profit from the Core: “The foundation of sustained, profitable growth is a clear definition of a company's core business.” For some of you, defining the “core” of your business may be easy. If you're still wondering, however what a “core” is and where you might find yours, chances are you'll need to follow these steps:
Identifying the Core. Identify:
- Your most potentially profitable franchise customers
- Your most differentiated and strategic capabilities
- Your most critical product offerings
- Your most important channels
- Other critical strategic assets that contribute to the above
Three Steps to Success:
- First, build market power and influence in the core business or in a segment of that business.
- Having done that, expand into logical and reinforcing adjacencies around the core.
- Then, shift or redefine the core in response to industry turbulence.
- come from the strongest cores
- have a repeatable characteristic that allows the company to build an adjacency machine that continually creates more growth opportunities of a similar nature
- the best place to look for adjacency opportunities is in the strongest customers, not in the search for the hottest markets
- the best adjacencies are driven by customer feedback
- Find your core and define it as clearly as possible.
- Make your core your main priority. Build it strong
- Use customer feedback to identify new products or capabilities for your existing customers.
Two great resources to brush up on your business savvy are:
Harvard Business School's Baker Library and MIT's free online courses from the Sloan School of Management.
If you have any advice about how you defined your core I'd love to hear it. Leave a comment!