Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer was on CBS this week and even though I have it on DVD and can watch it any time I want I still watched it because I LOVE the Land of the Misfit Toys. And this year particularly I love the pink polka dot elephant for obvious reasons. But I love them because I can relate to the misfits. I am one. Which brings me to my topic of being a "misfit" business.
In Rudolf's story he is shunned because he is different but in the end because he is different and his kind nature and perseverance he prevails and is successful beyond his wildest dreams. How many businesses can you think of that are a different concept and are wildly successful because of that difference? I can think of a few - Facebook, Zappos, Ebay, Southwest, Apple (now that's a company built on misfits), and the list could go on. What do all of these companies have in common? They are different, or "misfits" if you will. Facebook is a website built by us, not by Facebook, they only provide the platform and the content, the "meat" is added by us. Zappos builds its success on customer service and reps can sit on the phone with customers for 7 hours and not make a sale (true story). Ebay takes the traditional auction online. Southwest is the only airline that allows bags to fly free. And Apple ... well, Apple is a cult. They are all misfits in their own right, they did something different that no one else did or does and it is wildly successful. Sure, in the beginning it was hard. I'm sure it was really hard and many of them probably wanted to give up. But did they? No. Like Rudolf they persevered and understood that their differences may put them in the critics corner at first, but one day everyone will catch on and won't be able to live without them.
Me? I'm definitely a misfit! I'm very different than anyone else or any other business out there. I mean I have an elephant named Bartleby leading my company. I'm a rockstar business consultant and I will help you solve all the things in your company or organization that suck and I'll drink a beer with you while I do it. What other business consultant does that? All the ones I know slave over papers full of numbers all night only to tell you you have to fire 4 people and then things will be ok. Not me! I will find the problem and work towards the right answer and not the cover up and I'll probably show up in jeans and t-shirt (if it were socially acceptable I would show up in my PJs but we all have to draw a line somewhere) not a suit and tie. But me being different and a misfit for my business can work to my advantage because people like cute elephants and beer. My question to you as we approach a new year full of new beginnings is - what makes you a misfit? At the end of Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer, all the misfit toys find homes with children that love them and can't live without them. What is different about your company that you can use as an advantage that no one can live without? Now, go out and be a misfit!