Business Ownership: An Infinite Game

Business Ownership: An Infinite Game

Why are you in business? Or why do you want to get into business?

To win? What does winning look like?

Being number one? What do you do after that?

Beating someone specific? Where do you go from there?

Or are you in business to make a difference? To make a difference for yourself, for your family, for a customer, for a community. That’s sustainable. You don’t have to beat anyone or be the best at anything to make a difference or to do something that impacts people. What do you do after you make a difference? Where do you go from there? Well, that’s easy. You keep impacting new people and being a difference-maker for a new customer. The possibilities are infinite.

I had the great fortune to hear Simon Sinek speak at the International Franchise Association’s annual conference recently. Sinek is an inspiring business thinker, and he has a semi-recent book called “The Infinite Game.” The gross over-simplification of the book is that business (and other things) is an infinite game and the only way to “win” is to play infinitely—to adopt an infinite mindset. You can hear Sinek speak about this here.

In his address (and his book), Sinek lays out five essential practices to have an infinite mindset. 1. Advance a just cause. 2. Build trusting teams. 3. Study your worthy rivals. 4. Prepare for existential flexibility. 5. Demonstrate the courage to lead. As soon as I heard these, I knew that NOVUS’s leadership and its franchisees were infinite mindset business players. Here’s what I mean:

The Just Cause

The “just cause” in a nutshell is what, besides just more profits, motivates you to keep pursuing success infinitely. NOVUS and the Fix Network’s just cause is apparent in five minutes of conversation with President/CEO Steve Leal. Our cause is to keep a place for small business owners in a rapidly consolidating automotive aftermarket. The mom-and-pops are getting squeezed. Work providers want the consistency, confidence, and convenience of dealing with one brand rather than thousands of shops. Most of this consolidation means selling your shop to a corporate brand or waiting for them to push you out of the market. NOVUS and the Fix Network are on a mission to be the network of small business owners, franchisees, that provide the consistency the work providers crave and better customer service than the corporate brands ever could. Central to this mission is that the business owners are keeping control of their automotive businesses, while benefiting from the strength of a network. That’s a sustainable mission worth fighting for.

For NOVUS franchise partners on a local level, the “just cause” varies, but it always includes fighting for four things: family, community, customer service, and quality. Their auto glass businesses aren’t about beating the other guy in town—that’s a finite mindset. NOVUS franchise partners pursue a mission of making a great life for their families, giving back to the community as a local small business, and providing excellent customer service and quality to their customers. They don’t have to beat anyone to do that. They can win that game infinitely.

The Trusting Team

Building a trusting team is simply about having people that believe in the just cause and work together to pursue it. At NOVUS, these are people like Jay, Mary, Levi, and Penny. People who believe that the mission of creating and supporting a network of small businesses is worth fighting for. It’s people like Steve Leal who believe that saving small businesses in the automotive aftermarket is more important than maximizing profits in a corporate model. This takes trust in the process, trust in the NOVUS team, and trust in our franchise partners.

NOVUS franchisees have to build the same trust in their teams. Customer service reps and technicians must believe that the franchise owner values customer service, quality, community, and them as an employee more than speed, money, and winning. A NOVUS franchise partner’s salespeople and operations team have to trust that their leader is playing the infinite game—a sustainable game that values people and product over profits.

The Worthy Rivals

Studying worthy rivals is key to playing the infinite game of business because they will also be there. The point of the infinite game isn’t to beat them out of existence, but to learn what they do well and use it to become better for the long run. If the rival has a finite mindset, they won’t be around long. NOVUS has worthy rivals in the auto glass industry. Safelite is efficient, if lacking in customer service. There are regional auto glass companies that serve the customer well, but lack the vision and flexibility to play infinitely. The goal of NOVUS and its franchise partners is to combine these strengths into a service that exceeds both the corporate and the local business going it alone.

On a local level, NOVUS auto glass franchise owners will often have worthy rivals. If you enter the market focused only on beating them, you never will. If you study them, and use what you learn, and the advantages NOVUS provides, you can “win” the infinite game of making a long-term, sustainable difference in your community.

The Existential Flexibility

Change is coming. If business was a House from The Game of Thrones, the house words would be “Change is coming.” An inevitable truth of the infinite game is that the game will be different in five years. To continue to play, you must be flexible enough to prepare for and adapt to that change. Kodak invented the digital camera and then nearly died because they wanted to preserve their film profits rather than push into digital. They weren’t flexible. Blockbuster DID die because they were too concerned about their late-fee revenue to pivot to a subscription model. They could have beat Netflix. They weren’t flexible. Blackberry invented the smartphone, but they were too focused on a physical keyboard to transition to new touchscreen technology. Take out your iPhone/Android and search for Blackberry’s market share in the smartphone market today. They weren’t flexible.

The automotive industry is no different from the camera industry, the movie rental industry, or the phone industry. Change has come and more is coming. Vehicles are becoming more technologically complex. New solutions are needed for calibrating an increasing number of camera and sensors. Work provision is being aggregated in some segments. The Fix Network is built on flexibility. NOVUS prepares its franchise partners for the future of auto glass every day. Repair technology, calibration technology, shop management systems, payment systems, and more. A franchise network like NOVUS will always be more agile and flexible than a lumbering corporate model. We provide the technology and expertise to prepare for the future, and you provide the focused agility in each local market to quickly implement change. NOVUS franchise partners are a key part of what makes us so flexible and why we play the infinite game so well.

The Courage To Lead

Doing business with an infinite mindset is much harder than playing with a finite mindset. It’s not easy to build a team that trusts in change. It’s not easy to accept your rivals as worthy sources of improvements for your business. It’s not easy to be flexible and change. But it’s the only way to stay in the infinite game. It’s easier to believe in short-term profits than a long-term just cause. Steve Leal and the rest of the NOVUS team have the courage to do what’s more difficult in pursuit of the just cause of keeping small business owners in the automotive aftermarket. For NOVUS franchise partners, it might be easier to go work in a cubical for someone else, rather than be a small business owner, making a difference in their community and building something for the future.

Being a NOVUS Glass Franchise owner isn’t a get-rich-quick-and-easy game. It’s a work-hard-and-make-a-difference game. It’s a dare-to-build-something-worthwhile game. It’s an infinite game.

Get in the game.

About NOVUS Glass

For over 47 years, NOVUS has remained the industry’s research & development leader in auto glass service. NOVUS has been awarded more U.S. Patents for windshield repair than any other company in the windshield repair industry. For more information on starting a NOVUS business please call 1-800-944-6811 or go to www.novusfranchising.com.

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