Why We’re A “Business Building Company” — Part 1

Explaining the nuts and bolts of our category at the ground level.

January 22, 2021
Business Building is about strategic partnership — not getting stuck as a vendor for marketing tactics. Here’s what that means to us.

(This is one of a two-part series about why we call ourselves a Business Building Company. Here, our Director of Strategy, Kathryn Law, talks us through the methodology that defines what makes us different.)

Through the years, our team at Only Co. has found a common thread among the most rewarding — and successful — businesses we’ve worked with: they were the ones with whom we could transition from being a vendor providing deliverables to becoming a true strategic partner.

That’s the core of our business building process. Because, honestly, we have no interest in dispensing one more bag of deliverables like Doritos from the proverbial vending machine.

What does being a strategic partner mean? Simply put: we are end-results focused.

When we work with a client, we consider business goals before creating tactics to meet those goals. We refuse to start with tactics for the sake of doing them. (Sure, maybe you do need a new logo… but why? And then what?)

These days, pretty much anyone can create a graphically appealing website. But if it isn’t furthering the business’s goals, then it has no place on your priority list. 

Marketing tactics are great. However, when they’re not intimately aligned with a business’ goals, those tactics can become more detrimental than helpful — a bunch of work for minimal return, essentially doing the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way.

So how do we at Only Co. help to counteract that outcome? 

We’re a team of entrepreneurial-minded individuals who prioritize customer empathy.

Empathy may sound like fluffy language. But believe us when we say: it’s actually our full-blown survival kit. The primary way we achieve a high level of empathy with our clients is through our diagnostic process and our Only Exercise. 

Our diagnostic is the first thing we do with any potential client. We mobilize our team to synthesize what’s important and unimportant, reducing the risk of creating the wrong solution for our clients’ actual problems. It’s in-depth, intentional, and non-negotiable. 

If our diagnostic research determines a client needs it, we offer the Only Exercise. It is a day-long (or multi-day) facilitated experience that creates your differentiated positioning. We gather people from all walks of your organization, from the top of the C-Suite to your customer-facing front-liners, to paint a full-horizon view of who you are and who you’ve been, based on the viewpoints of your team, your customers, and your competitors.

We create an Only Message that articulates what you alone bring to the world, because we truly believe you’re different. And we want to help you tell the world exactly how — because our Only is finding yours.

From there, depending on our diagnostic recommendations, we may continue to work together. 

That’s where the strategic partnership comes in. Which means there are a few things you should understand up front: 

#1) Our team thrives on autonomy.

Throughout our diagnostic and Only Exercise, we purposely engage in difficult, effective, powerful conversations that are designed to know and build trust with your team. And we fully intend to capitalize on that knowledge and trust — to operate with significant autonomy in pursuit of solutions. Less talking and red tape, more working on your behalf. It’s how we work best.

#2) Our solutions are a strategic, phased approach.

Just like you don’t build the roof of a house before the foundations and walls, we follow a specific order of operations to build your business strategically. This narrows your focus as we guide you phase by phase, and it allows you to not bite off more than you can chew both financially and physically.

#3) Sometimes, you’ll get pushback.

Listen, we know this business is your baby. We know you’ve poured your sweat and blood into it. But that’s exactly what placed you, as we say, inside the jar — and you can’t read the label from there. Our team can read the label from the outside, and offer solutions or ideas in ways you can’t. And that means we will, from time to time, do things differently than you might prefer.

#4) Unpredictability is ideal.

The status quo is our business’s foremost cultural enemy. We don’t believe in offering cookie-cutter solutions, or allowing the word “just” into the equation (as in, “we JUST need a new website”, ”we JUST need a new logo, “we JUST need to do some marketing). Innovation, risk, and intelligent pivoting are essential to business growth. When these are embraced, it expands the horizons of what we can do for you.

#5) We will ask why. A lot.

In fact, possibly 5 times. This is a habit we strive to adopt, for two primary reasons: to gain empathy, and to dig deep enough that we’re sure we aren’t solving the wrong problem (or, worse, creating more).

If all of that hasn’t scared you off, that’s a good sign we might work well together! Head over to our website to learn more about our company and who knows, we might just be your next strategic partner.

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