LA Business Podcast

64. Michelle Diamond, CEO of Elevate Diamond Strategy

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CEO Michelle Diamond shares about the operational excellence and finance knowledge she has used to help grow multi-million dollar companies.

LABP Podcast – Michelle Diamond

Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to the LA Business Podcast, a forum for business owners and senior executives to share the experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of , an Inc 500 company delivering the power of hyper-local advertising. Robert writes for Forbes, Inc, and AB trade publications.  Our goal is to bring you the stories about successes. The failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing, entrepreneurship, and management.

Robert Brill: [00:00:38] Thanks for being with us today. Holy cow, we are alive. You are the new live streaming feature that we have going on right now for LA Business Podcast.

Michelle Diamond: [00:00:51] Thank you for having me.

Robert Brill: [00:00:54] Great. So let me give you a little bit of an introduction before we start. Our guest today is Michelle Diamond, CEO of Elevate Diamond Strategy, a growth strategy development and execution advisory, and interim executive firm specializes in new market. Entry go to market, competitive intelligence, business expansion, and operational improvement, organic and M and A.  So that’s a lot. You have a lot of, like, I’m not surprised to find out I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile here. I’m not surprised to see that you have experience. You’ve worked at Accenture. Ernest and Young. Tell us a little bit about your background. You have an MBA from Duke Wharton school. Holy cow. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening. Tell us about new and, and how you got into this position where you have your business.

Michelle Diamond: [00:01:44] Okay. Yeah. I’ll actually start back with spores. Cause it makes more sense. You start forwards back it might be confusing. So I started my career off in accounting and finance.

I actually am a CPA. I worked for some large companies. I worked for Colgate-Palmolive and Citibank and some other banks and some other organizations I even worked for immigration for a little while. And then afterwards I went over to  excuse me, where I got my CPA. I did public accounting, which is audit, audit work for a lot of different companies there.

And then I also went into mergers and acquisitions while I was at Ernst and young. So I had a great time there. A lot of people hated it, but I actually loved being an auditor and believe it or not, even though that my personality is more boisterous, let’s just say the most water is. But, well, you know what?

Accounting is different than auditing people don’t really understand that distinction unless you’re in it. You know, auditing is different in a sense that you are looking at numbers and. Digging in some processes, but you’ll also dealing with a lot of clients. So you get to learn a lot about a lot of different industries and companies, and as an everything in business, regardless of what you’re doing, any real business person knows that more than 50% of your job is dealing with people.

So while in one hand, the actual tactical work, you’re still dealing with people to get things done and to understand their businesses so that you can do your job. And in that case, It was auditing to make sure that they were in compliance on a process standpoint, as well as a numbers one. But I and so I, I kind of I was promoted in kind, not officially, but in time very quickly.

And I got to a place where I loved seeing the results and understanding statements and financials and how companies work, but I want it to be a part of making those numbers happen. And so since I love the client piece and love the, the learnings that came along with a broad breadth of companies and industries, I transitioned over into she, she did consulting.

I actually didn’t know what it was at first. I actually never even heard of it. Yeah. I really didn’t have a clue. I fortunately I had a wonderful friend who worked with me at an Ernst at the time and he saw me stressed out when I was trying to figure out what to do. He recommended strategic consulting.

I looked into it and I realized to get into a top firm, I have to get my MBA. So I literally went, I was very green at the time cause I was the only person in my family who ever went to fully graduated from college, let alone get a master’s. So I just kinda guided whatever was the best and what I needed to solve now, but I knew goal really.

And so I applied to several business schools. I fortunately got into a couple and I chose Duke and then I focused on the other side of what I didn’t know, which was the marketing and market entry kind of businesses. Mansion work because I figured I can match that with the operational and financial piece that I already had.

And so while I was at Accenture, I focus a lot on a lot of high growth, SAS startups. Some, I was helping him one grow from two to 20 million in two years. Another one from 10 million. Well, their goal is 10 million. So a hundred million in two years, they made 10 million to 40 million. In two years, they didn’t quite meet their goal, but they went public and there were a lot of other things, but.

I learned from that experience, you know, but how to enter a market about the competitive landscape, about how to truly grow a company. And what also helped me when I worked there is that I still married my background. So a lot of people grow companies from the top-line they say, Ooh, look at this big market, Ooh, look at this great opportunity.

And they don’t see how to make it profitable. And so I worked on helping companies to actually make it profitable by marrying the growing the top line piece with having the operational and finance piece there. So after Accenture, I actually went ahead and I took a role at Cigna where I oversaw one of their in-house businesses.

It was a $20 million manufacturing company. So I got a chance to oversee a manufacturing company, a printing business Cigna does insurance, but they did have a printing business at that time. And my role was to oversee that business really to be carte blanche in terms of, you know, what I should do with the business in terms of whether we should grow it and invest or divest it.

And I ended up streamlining the business to prepare for future growth. Spun off some product lines and got us to a place, the profitability. And then after that, I went to Cigna’s one of their divisions where I built up their competitive intelligence function. That was a job I created because I believe if you ask very simple questions from someone who should know the simple answer and they cannot answer it, there’s a problem or an opportunity.

And at the time, Cigna was looking to shift downstream to a different marketplace and only looked at it from a profitability standpoint and not necessarily from a competitive landscape standpoint. So I made that my job after a lot of negotiating and buy-in, and then fortunately for me, it was an unrealized need and the demand drove my role to then become expanding an entire department where I brought in on Spartan staff created alliances, and then leverage that up to help them.

Add a significant amount to their top of mind when I was there. And then after that, I realized I wanted to get back into consulting work this type of growth strategy work that I love, but I didn’t want to live out of a suitcase and my personal life at the time didn’t warrant me you know, traveling all over the place and all the other big companies, they pretty much, that was the least at the time part of what you had to do.

And so I had a clear vision. I knew what I had thought was valuable. And honestly, in my mind, I figured I would just make the leap. I figured if it didn’t work out, I would just not do it. And fortunately for me, January will be 16 years. I’ve been doing this now on my own. And so the development piece. For the growth strategies as exactly that, and companies don’t have it, or they need to refresh or enhance or update what they have and the execution pieces.

Because again, I look at companies in a holistic way to make sure that whatever is developed or enhanced or optimized is actually something that’s going to give them the bottom line growth that they actually are looking for, but in a way, that’s going to help them, help them move forward and get to that next level.

Robert Brill: [00:07:31] Can you talk about some of the practical elements? Cause like I understanding the theoretical elements of what you discussed, but in practice, I don’t know what that a lot of that stuff means. Like for example, you mentioned murder, you know, using operations and finance or operational excellence and finance to grow company has started from 2 million to four.

Two 20 million. Let’s say, what does that give us examples of what that actually looks like?

Michelle Diamond: [00:07:58] Yeah. So I’ll give that to, I’ll actually go into a little bit of detail on that particular client all those years ago. So again, you know, high growth for them at $2 million, you know, which is obviously not a lot, but they will bootstrapping which most companies do, you know, when you first starting out and bootstrapping just means.

We get a sale here, we get a sale there and we know this person we’re able to kind of, you know, just add sales and grow, start growing a business. But when you truly try and get to the next level, you actually trying to grow your business in an exponential way, you know, bootstrapping and getting sales here and there doesn’t really work.

I mean, you know, you can kill yourself trying to make it happen, maybe, but it’s not really a great best way to do it. Plus they will also try to raise money and they’re trying to do a lot of other things. And so, you know, they really didn’t have a full strategy. They didn’t have a plan. And so. With them.

Step one is okay. We have this cool. Software and their particular software is one that could actually serve multiple markets, which a lot of software, I mean, especially the ones that are truly specialized most, you know, a lot of SAS companies have that same thing, so we can serve, you know, a whole bunch of markets.

And in this case we got it down to like 10 markets. They said, okay, these are the best markets that’s you should probably. Enter based on, you know, the market size, the opportunity, the competitive landscape, like as, almost like you get a big picture of everything. And then you look to say, well, where are the gaps?

You know, where are the customer needs? Or again, the unrealized needs, which just means that a customer doesn’t know what their needs are, but you are introducing something new to actually help them meet it. And they just don’t know how to articulate it yet. And then you go from there and you say, okay, and now these, this is who we are, and this is our capabilities.

So, you know, where do our capabilities best fit? With the other piece of the puzzle, which is the opportunity, you know, and how can we best leverage our resources now to enter these markets? And so you can’t answer all 10 at one time, at least this company, couldn’t, they only $2 million, even with funding and most companies can’t, even if you’re a multi-billion dollar company, you typically are not going to put everything, you still have limited resources, you have budgets, you have things.

So yeah, bureaucracy. Right. Right. So you have that stuff too, but the point is you still have limited resources regardless. So, so it was really a matter of, okay, so let’s rank and prioritize and there’s tools. And there’s ways of doing that strategically as well. I set up what’s called like evaluative criteria based on the company.

I usually tailor it and say, okay, let’s rank and prioritize in a systematic way, which markets you should answer. So they came up with one ranked and prioritize the, excuse me, the top 10. And then they said, okay, great. Now you told us these great markets we can enter. How do we do it? Right. So that’s the market entry piece.

So then the second step is all right, let’s take market one, which is what I worked with them to do. When I took market one. And this particular company, the first market was actually pharmaceutical distribution because their software actually was helping to link. Let’s just say the middleman more to the, excuse me.

The middleman more to the end user, whereas they really didn’t have much of a relationship cause they didn’t have much of a brand. So in pharmaceutical distribution that might be a McKesson or a Cardinal health. And those accompanies that distributed, let’s say these smaller pharmacies, but the large company.

Sometimes has a relationship with a smaller pharmacy. Sometimes they don’t. And as far the small pharmacies could easily switch back and forth. So there’s no loyalty, right? So the software was trying to help help with that. So there’s a lot of markets that have set up in that way. And so what I did for them is that, all right, now we have this market.

It’s the same thing at the top level, but now we’ve taken it down to a more definitive, excuse me, definitive level, because now we know the exact markets we want to go ahead and enter. And so what I did then is go and say, all right, let’s look at these potential customers. How do we know the market? And we know what we’re offering our value proposition.

Let’s look to say which customer segments have the greatest needs. And so it was about identifying all of these companies, doing assessments with them to see if they had the software in place, if they weren’t being competitive and maybe they will losing share, you know, certain things that you look for to say, all right, this is what we’re going to go on with now diagnose and say, these particular companies have the beta’s needs.

Now, what I also did with this particular company is say, well, look, you may have large multinational companies, and then you have small to mid-sized businesses. You know, they have different needs in different ways. Even if they quote unquote have the same one, you can’t offer the same thing. So I had to help them now productize what they had in terms of their software, because they were excellent in terms of understanding code and how to come up with these great features.

But they didn’t understand how to take that. And our products has, and in such a way that you actually can go to the market with something that you are a potential customer is going to understand, because then everybody’s going to understand that level of detail and that you have a business case for it.

So I broke down for them. What I call the Rolex and the Timex strategy. And I said, okay, for your Rolex level clients, which was typically the large multinationals, your fortune 1000, your global 100 clients, you know, the way that they typically purchase services is in this particular way. So you need to gear your software to answering their questions, satisfying their needs, but then do anything in such a way.

That it’s going to be easy for them to purchase and to integrate. And it’s something that you can actually sell more of too, because they obviously have more and they’re larger and they have a bigger landscape in terms of who they serve. And then the smaller companies that said, well, a lot of them want, may not be able to afford the services, or they may not even need to take it on in terms of the whole suite and all the features and the way that your software is currently set up.

So let’s come up with a Timex strategy and that’s really more like, okay, These are the people that can afford a Timex versus a Rolex they’re still customers, potential customers that can make you profitable. But now you have to again, speak to them and their language and focus on providing products and services in a way that they’ll be able to understand.

And so then from there, because it’s a startup and with startups, you have to do everything, which is not a bad thing. You know, I help them with, like, it’s not just developing the products. I help them write marketing messaging. I worked with their sales team. I wrote the sales scripts. I even show them how to calculate, you know, what a company could save or what a company could potentially earn, you know, really got them down to that level.

I even created like a, how to manual because the CEO at the time said he wants me to train everyone on this. So I literally helped them successfully enter the first two markets. And then after that I train the management team on how to actually enter the other eight. So that they knew who, you know, not only what I’ve developed, but that they knew that they could just literally take it and run and actually start going out there and driving the business development, achieving the sales.

And while a lot of companies that I work with don’t necessarily have me do all those different steps. You know, with the smaller one, it was great because, you know, it enabled me to obviously leverage a lot of what I have to offer and have the company’s thinking a bit differently, you know, and then enable them to learn something that’s going to help them to grow.

So they actually ended up being very successful. They got acquired, which was fine for them because, you know, when you get funding, one of the big things you want to do is get acquired or exit by going public or some other way. But you know, it was a great opportunity for me as well, because. It allows me to use a lot of my background to be able to help the company now again, on this top line piece, but in the evaluative criteria piece, one of the criteria was okay, is, is this particular market going to be profitable?

You know, if you go on answer and, and let’s say, there’s already people who are dominated in the market and it’s going to cost you a ton of money to try to fight these people that you don’t have. Well, maybe that’s not the best market, even if it is a $10 billion market, you know, I mean, you can’t just look at size.

So. Being able to have these different nuances in and pull from the strategic side, as well as the operational and the finance side. And because of, excuse me, another criteria too was capability. You know, if you got a hundred million dollar contract today, could you handle it? The answer for them would have been now.

So it’s not that you don’t go for the a hundred million that contract, but do you have to build up your capabilities, whether you do it yourself or you outsource, so you leverage whatever it is like you have to be prepared for the opportunity before the opportunity comes. Because then you’ll lose it.

And then you have to spend a long time scrambling to get back up to that same place. So it’s like a balancing act and it’s almost like a puzzle, so to speak, but when you solve it, and again, I tried to do a tailor for companies is something that’s extremely beneficial. And that’s how you really do. At least I find a proper growth strategy.

You know, like growth strategy is the sexy word that people heard all the time. Some people understand it. Some people don’t. But, you know, I, even though I’ve been trained at larger consulting firms as well, for me, my goal is making sure that it’s executable it’s implementable is still innovative, but it’s also done in a way that’s very simple and easy for those on the recipient.

And to understand like, my job to me is not impressed people with a pretty deck. And then they’re like, Oh, that’s like so amazing. And then it goes nowhere, you know? And I’ve even been brought in for certain companies where they’ve done that with other, let’s just say traditional consulting firms and they’ve gotten some value, but then when it came to actually implementing and executing, whether on a corporate level or a divisional level, like it just sat there because it didn’t really match, you know, what was needed to actually make a follow-through.

So that’s kind of a, an example of all of that. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s, let’s, let’s hone in on that Rolex versus Timex. I really liked that. And also why that’s relevant to our business. And I think probably a lot of businesses, we are. We have currently our business. It has the Rolex. We have the Rolex clients you’re working to attract the Timex clients.

And it’s a very different type of business and different models, different processes. Can you, can you talk about some of the intricacies and differences of attracting the Rolex clients and some of the Timex clients? Yeah, I would say that cause that wasn’t the only company that I was able to do that for, even though that’s the way he described it with them, you know, with the Rolex clients, I mean, You know, your, your proposition is, you know, when you have to show that you have the acumen, you know, that you’re, you know, you can, you can serve them at their level.

You understand their needs, you know, your positioning for a high-end. And so, you know, you’re speaking their language and everything, you know, everything’s, high-end, everything is, you know You know, track record of results. You know, these are the things that are important to them, but it’s really more about the kind of prestige angle, you know, and making sure that everything you do is focus on, you know, how they can be more innovative, you know, how they can keep on gaining some next level, things of that nature, the time as clients, they care about the same things.

You know, they obviously want to grow as well. They want to get some next level as well. You know, they, they want to be aspirational as well. I mean, most people in business want that regardless of your size. But with the Timex clients you have to do in a way that’s a little bit more practical sometimes.

Like you have to kind of again, speak to them in, in some of the things that they’re challenged, their challenges are and what they need. You know, someone who let’s say is running a small to mid sized business, you know, has the the challenge is a lot of times of, you know, doing more, sometimes again, it’s all companies are different, but you know, collectively, you know, they may try to run the businesses.

At the same time at the same time they go on out there and they try and be the face of the business. Sometimes they are, they promoting, sometimes they doing business development. They don’t want any things and have people in place that may do the day to day, but a lot more hands-on and what the accompany with their staff, you know, they care about the last time I was the personal just might be, you know, stronger or closer, just because then each of us as a business, especially if it.

If the founder or the person who was charged was responsible for helping to build the business from scratch, you know, you have that, the dynamics of what you’re dealing with is a little bit or localized, or, you know, that work-life balance is even though everyone has work-life balance, you know, there’s a little bit more as well.

And so you know, being able to you know, just to be able to meet their needs and speaking their language, and I think talk more about how much you care. In your delivery of your products and services is something that’s going to resonate more with the smaller clients or the larger clients may like it.

At the end of the day, they usually have a reporting structure. And even if you’re the CEO, you’re still reporting to the board. So you still have a different, I think in terms of how much you need to personalize and cut size, at least on that emotional connection level. Whereas they care more about Justin assaults.

Whereas the other side, again, you just have to relate more to what they’re going through as well as delivering, you know, whatever the product or services that you’re delivering. Awesome.

Robert Brill: [00:20:17] Michelle can, let me ask you a question. Can you hear me okay. Cause I was having a little bit of trouble hearing you just for a few moments there.

Michelle Diamond: [00:20:24] No, I can hear you fine. Oh, you didn’t hear what I just said. Okay. Can restate a little bit of that the last minute and a half, two minutes. Okay. Now I was just saying that while it’s important, when you’re dealing with a Rolex client or a Timex client to meet their needs, it’s also important to communicate with them in a way that is going to resonate with them more so the larger client, Nancy nail the result.

So they care about you know, making sure that you can, you can actually serve them. That’s you’re at that level, you know, things have to be high-end and put together and. Hi class. And obviously you help him to get to the next level, but in a way that’s very clear and concise. And often times to the point, whereas the Timex clients, they care about results as well, but it’s being a personal connection and making sure that you’re talking more about meeting their emotional and their personal needs, along with whatever the product or service is that you’re doing tends to resonate a little bit more just because the people who are running those small ultimate size companies, oftentimes not always.

But oftentimes we’re the ones that build it from scratch. So they have more of a vested interest in their employees. They have more vested interests in. The relationships with them. They usually closer as well as with vendors or customers and things of that nature. So you just have to do, even though mass customization and personalization is something that’s going on in our world as a whole even with, without recent developments is really about connecting with them on both levels.

As well as understanding how to serve them. So like not selling them too much, you know, not pushing for something only a large company would take and then speaking in their language. So that’s usually the differentiator between the two, like again, based stuff, obviously you still have to live a great product and service.

You still have to get the value proposition. You still have to show them how they’re going to grow, how they can be profitable, all of that. But I think the nuances is usually that, you know what I mean, then more of that emotional. Personalized side versus the large companies that really don’t care as much as, as, as much as you can just say, okay, these are the results I can help you achieve.

Robert Brill: [00:22:26] Yeah. One of the things that I’ve learned throughout the years when we were starting our business, my experience with advertising had been with fortune 500 brands and large companies. So I don’t know if the brand that I know a hundred percent is fortune 500 was Conoco Phillips. I’ve worked on their, their advertising for years, right?

But other Bradford party, Toshiba, PetSmart, whatever the case is. So I went into the marketplace. I was like, Hey, I do programmatic advertising to you. I mean, you might know what that is, but the reality of it is both business owners that I was starting to sell did not know what programmatic advertising actually was totally talking over people.

And it was hard. It’s hard to sell when we talk in jargon and in terms that people just don’t understand. So it’s like the confused mind doesn’t buy. So I took some notes here. I’m going to, I’m going to revisit what you said about the Rolex and Timex. This because we’re rolling out a, an independent marketing business, independent business marketing, which is definitely the Timex.

It’s less expensive, but it gets the job done sales and leads, et cetera. So it’s, it’s a fascinating fascinating idea there. Rolex vs Timex. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with, with your business right now?

Michelle Diamond: [00:23:47] Yeah. With my business I’ve had to shift a little bit this year, and I started off the year.

Again, I do a hybrid, as you mentioned in the introduction, and some of you may not understand that. Clarify a little bit in a sense that the advisory and advisory basis, a consulting basis. It says or instrument sensitive and interim executive to simply mean that I’d go into a company and take on a role for a few months.

Sometimes someone may have went on maternity leave or maybe a company wants to take more time before they hire somebody full time, or sometimes is leading an initiative like an integration after an acquisition or something like that. So I’ve done both of those things. And this year I actually was on the cusp of getting one of the biggest contracts I’ve actually ever gotten in all my years, which was an interim executive role was going to be a six month role.

And I would have had to move to another state. But I was looking forward to it and then COVID hit. And so that all went away. So that was pretty tough, but. What has made me do is a shift more honestly, to the advisory piece. You know, over the years, I’ve probably done more on the consulting full-blown consulting.

So that may be someone hires me to develop a strategy or, you know, improve their profits or fix their processes. And it’s a set time. So it could be several months with several weeks and we have a scope and I have a beginning and an end. Whereas now I’m focusing more on advisory, even though I’m open to those other traditional roles because you know, companies need more flexibility, you know, and advisory, it can be as simple as someone puts me on retainer or, you know, they want me to retain me for several hours at a time they have business questions.

They want somebody to bounce stuff off of, you know, someone who’s unbiased. And obviously, you know, it was going to. Keep their privacy intact. My life has NDA is I have no problem signing anything. You know, or they have initiatives, you know, or maybe it is. Can you just review our strategy right now? We know we need to update it or can we review our organizational structure?

You know, people come with all types of questions or again, it might be more Extensive, you know, if I’m doing a review, I’ll review it and obviously come back with notes and recommendations, things like that. Or again, it may be one-offs, but I have to become more flexible because again, you know, other business owners and leaders has to become more flexible as well.

And right now it enables me to be able to serve them at their point of need. And that’s something I appreciate because. Again, I’ve been very fortunate to work with so many companies and so many different growth stages and so many different issues that it’s very easy for me to, to get up to speed or a new company very quickly and really understand what the core needs or the core questions are.

And of course, what needs to be answered. So that’s been a shift in my practice this year.

Robert Brill: [00:26:26] Michelle, when you think about growth, all your experiences with, with growing a company, what are some of the tactical things that you, that you’ve done in the past that, you know, our listeners can take advantage of marketing growth, what to go to there.

And what do you rely on or does it change per type of client you work on? Tell us a little bit about that.

Michelle Diamond: [00:26:49] Yeah. I mean the core approach doesn’t really change the nuances change to fit an industry or company size or their, their goals. I would say the first thing is to, and I, and some of these are going to be very basic, but it’s just the truth in the first thing is you want to have a goal in place.

You want to know, you know, where you want to grow from. If it’s top line. If you’re in a contracting mode, it may be bottom line in terms of keeping your profitability up. But it’s nice to have a goal. I mean, there are some companies and some initiatives that sometimes your goal may just be to see what the potential might be.

And that’s fine too. But most of the time it’s easy to have a goal. The other part is you have to look at basic things in terms of the market. Whatever market that you’re in. And that can be in terms of the industry, if you’re thinking about verticals or it can be done in terms of your geographic location, you know, whether you’re a pizza shop or, you know, your multinational corporation, you still have to look to see like, what market are you in?

And you have to understand what the size of the market is. You need to know whether or not it’s growing well, then as contracting. That’s something again, can be done in a high level or a low level, but you have to understand where the trends are because there are many industries and there’s many markets that are shrinking right now.

And some historically, like I remember working for a printing client and they would never accept, excuse me, a chemical company that worked in terms of pulp and paper. Right? Cause they had chemicals to produce paper. Well, guess what? The world’s been going digital so many years. They, they were number one for like almost a hundred years and now the world has shifted.

So they, if they didn’t pay attention to what’s going on in the market, then guess what? Then they do exactly what happens to them, which is they got up and all of a sudden they’re losing money. Again, that’s a very big example, but. If you’re in a neighborhood where people are moving away. I mean, you know, all of these things you have to know, the second piece is the competitive landscape and many companies do not have a clue.

Again, it does not matter what size I get retained by fortune 100 companies that don’t know who their competitors are. They don’t know who their competitors are. They have, if they do, you have no clue what they’re doing and it’s the same sort of thing, you know, you’d rather than missing out because you’re not leveraging a competitive advantage.

Let’s say you’re better than your competitors. You can have a better product, a better service, but everything. But if you don’t know how you stack up, you can’t leverage it. You just kind of going along. So you’re losing out. On the other end, if you’re not being competitive, that’s also something a lot of times companies find out too late.

All of a sudden you’re losing customers. You’re losing share. You don’t know what’s going on. Oh, well guess what your competitors are doing something faster, better, cheaper. I mean, that’s really usually the three prongs. If you want to make it as simple as possible. In terms of a product or service that they’re offering.

So if they’re doing that faster, better, cheaper, and now they’re starting to gain traction. You don’t want to be in defense mode or you’re putting out fires. And you’re like, Oh my gosh, this thing came up. I didn’t even know it was there. You know, not all companies have the resources to have a dedicated right.

You know, competitive intelligence analysis function, but it slips, excuse me, it’s just, there’ll be something that you’re doing on a periodic basis. Now, whether with your own employees or you hire someone like myself or someone else who does it, you know, the important thing is that you have, I have a gauge on what’s going on outside of what you’re doing.

And again, that helps that’s for small companies where you’re so busy running the company, or even large companies where they’re very internally focused and they don’t know a lot of times either. And that’s existing competitors as well as emerging ones. That may just be more technologically advanced, which is doing things in a way this was better.

Robert Brill: [00:30:08] I want to ask you about your book. Talk, talk to the third point.

Michelle Diamond: [00:30:13] Okay. So I’ll, I’ll tie this. The third point is so the book then, so the third point is to know your customers. And again, that sounds very simple, but not many people know their customers at all. Some companies do customer service, which is great.

Some don’t, which is horrible. But then even for the ones that do them, they often do nothing with them. They just say they do the survey. They may maybe do the metrics in terms of what went up or down. If they’ve done several and they don’t make them actionable. Like, I actually created something at an old company of mine and I named it the customer satisfaction action project.

Right. So that’s all fancy. And all that really meant is we’re going to actually take your gut, the customer satisfaction work that we retain these big market returns to do, or we’ve done ourselves. And we’re actually going to take action on what the customers have asked us for. And we’re going to communicate that we’re taking this action because all customers feel.

Like when they give their feedback, it’s actually going to be something that’s going to be actionable. Okay. Things like it’s difficult, but it’s not. The other thing is that it gives you a gauge on where you stand. You can’t assume that your customer happy or unhappy, guilty and things like that. But again, things change very quickly.

And in terms of my book, my book, how to grow an expanded business in times of feast or famine, which I’m very happy probably that you are communicating now, you know, my book was, was developed because I started presenting to a lot of small and mid sized business owners who honestly did not understand technology and didn’t know,

And a lot of them honestly couldn’t afford me. So I decided to actually develop. Okay. Yeah, I was gonna say that a lot of these small to mid-sized business owners and companies could not afford my consulting services. So I just, I wrote the book based on presentations in terms of really breaking down.

What is growth strategy? How can you use it for your business? I put it in 10 simple steps. And I gave a lot of examples of companies of different sizes. And I tried to make it as easy as possible, but it’s really a roadmap and a guide that companies can literally go in and you can read each chapter. And some of these things I’m talking about about, you know, how to look at the competitive landscape and knowing your competitors, the figuring out who they are and who your customers are and how to size your market, or figure out what market you’re in.

You know how to look at your capabilities and you know how to see if you have the right resources in place and whether or not you’re profitable. You know, all of these things that I’m talking about, I made in a way that’s very. Optical. And again, simple and easy to understand. I use that a lot because that’s really my goal in life.

Not just in business in life to make things as easy as possible. And and it’s been, it’s been great. And why it’s about in feast or famine? Is that at the end of the day, regardless of what’s going on in the external environment right now, COVID is hitting us hard, but this is not the first, you know, business challenge we’ve had.

It may be, you know, heightened because of the nature of this pandemic, but we’ve had recessions before we’ve had ups and downs. You know, the SBA has a statistic that only one third of businesses make it past 10 years. And I believe the Bureau of labor statistics says that only 50% make it past five years.

So that will, that means is that the world goes up and down. These are the same statistics. So it has nothing to do with what’s going on externally. And I’m a big person that, excuse me, I’m a person that believes in fundamentals like fundamentals is so key for me. And what my book really focuses on is the fundamentals of business.

Because once you have these fundamentals in place and you shore them up and then you do them on a continuous basis, whether you do it yourself, Well, you hire someone to help you do it and help train you on it and communicate on it. Your business is not going to stand all hard. Time show is that you’d rather have a strong foundation.

That’s going to help you with this with the storm and continue to thrive when a storm is over or even thrive during a storm, or that you didn’t have a strong foundation to begin with. And now you’re seeing everything blow up because this right now, again is COVID, but there’ll be other challenges. And so.

My bulk or really take you through a step by step way and how to do it. I’ve been very fortunate. I got her a lot of great feedback for, and like I said, it was from presentations that I gave. So I made sure to include a lot of the feedback from people who are truly running their businesses, dealing with these challenges every single day.

And it’s the way that I believe that you’d be able to not only be educated on. Why are these large companies pay so much for consultants like myself to come in and do growth strategy, but why it doesn’t have to be some really big thing that you think you can apply to your business because it’ll set you apart.

And it’ll definitely, if you’re not in the place where you need to be, it’ll get you back on the right track so that you can continue on the path that growth and profitability and getting into that next level, regardless of what’s going on around you, outside of you.

Robert Brill: [00:34:55] In the last few minutes here, where can people buy the book?

Michelle Diamond: [00:34:58] You can actually buy it on my site. So if you go to, you can do backslash book. It’s there. If you go to the site itself it’s on the first page of leave. There’s some links on my homepage as well. But it’s a dedicated page to going through some of these things that I mentioned.

You can buy it in the hard copy version or the easy version which most people do now, because most things are E version at this time because of the nature of what we’re going through. But you know, it, it is, again, it’s a simple read, but it’s not meant to just be a, a book that you can just read and put down.

You know, it’s really meant to be a workable book for yourself and your employees, if you choose to buy for them to really take you through each of the steps and even at the end is chapter. I have the things, the common pitfalls to avoid and things that you should be doing so that you also have kind of ear markers or markers to kind of help you with making sure that you do the right stuff.

And then also helping to make sure that you don’t do the wrong things. That’s right. Awesome. And how, and should people, if people want to reach out to you and Michelle, is it through the website or what’s the best way to do this? Yes, you can absolutely go to the website now. So the contact us page and I also have contact us on probably each page that’s on my site.

You can reach me and my email address, which is [email protected] and it’s Michelle with two L’s. She will spell it differently. You can also just call at (310) 595-4273. That’s the business line again- three 10. Five nine five four two seven three. You know, any of those mediums, we’ll be fine to reach out to me.

I am just trying to get back to people relatively quickly. I’ll definitely within 24 hours, if not earlier, and again, you know, I’m happy to help any business that needs help to again, get to the next level, answer those questions. Growing because since growing also have him share this with failing and keeping that up from a bottom line perspective, or you’re not, and you’re just really looking for somebody to help you to get there.

And like I mentioned earlier, or if you just have a lot of business questions and you need somebody who you can bounce off off until, until you get to that place where you can take on things a little bit more You know, a little bit bigger in terms of a project basis or role basis, you know, I’m here to help.

It’s definitely my passion. I really want to help companies as much as I can. And I look forward to speaking to whoever so awesome.

Robert Brill: [00:37:20] Thank you, Michelle Diamond, everyone. Michelle Diamond is the CEO of Elevate Diamond Strategy, a growth strategy development firm. Thanks for being with us today.

Michelle Diamond: [00:37:31] All right, thank you for having me.

Outro: [00:37:34] Thank you for listening to this episode of the LA Business Podcast. If you like what we’re doing on this podcast, please consider subscribing on Apple or Google play and leaving a five star review and sharing with your friends. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations for a guest you’d like to hear on this podcast, please email me [email protected].

Thank you. Have a fantastic day.

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Created By: Brill Media