Is Your Company in Balance?

(This article originally appeared in the Caletha Crawford Childrenswear Consulting KidsBiz newsletter, access past issues here:

If you’ve read my column in The Giggle Guide, then by now you might be thinking I’d be better suited for an editor position at Entertainment Weekly. And I’ll admit, when it comes to inspiration, I typically flock to my favorite television shows. Well, this article is a bird of the same feather. Now, before you swoop in with plans for a TV intervention, note that this show is at least high brow.

Unlike some of my other more dubious choices, I can proudly state that you can always find me perched in front of the TV for The Charlie Rose Show. And the recent segment with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo illustrates why this program tops my viewing list. Out of a 40-minute conversation, which ran the gamut from technology to social media to mobile, it was a 3-minute segment that really jumped out at me. As Costolo explained his business philosophy, I heard a lesson for all of us. At Twitter, he says, his biggest concern is “are we being courageous enough and are we focused?” He goes on to say: “Focus tells you what not to do… Courage is ‘we have to be bold and try this new thing, which sounds crazy.’ The companies that balance that successfully are the ones that are successful.”

I loved this quote because too often I see brands flying off in every direction, or conversely, allowing indecision to stunt their growth. Part of the problem is you can’t just wing it. Before you can courageously soar off to success, you have to first develop a strong brand identity that will ultimately serve as your focus. For Twitter, it self identifies as a “mobile-first company” so courage means strengthening its position at the forefront of real-time communications. But the company is also focused. For instance, Costolo balked at the idea of Twitter offering hardware like Google has (very successfully) done with the Android acquisition.

In business, there are always crossroads and a myriad of paths that look like opportunities. As an owner or brand manager, it’s up to you to decide which way to go. And making like an ostrich with its head in the sand is not an option. Times change, consumer tastes change and you’ve got to change with them—within your brand identity. As Costolo would say, focus will tell you where to go and courage enables you to get there. —Caletha Crawford

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