The “Drilling Down” Principal – Do One Thing Well

Steve Jobs quote on doing one thing well

Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well. – Steve Jobs.

It’s Hard to Do Less

As business owners sometimes the hardest thing is doing less. All sorts of opportunities can present themselves to us and with that can come the temptation to take on work that’s beyond the original business plan.

If we aren’t careful we can spread our resources so thin that we end up doing nothing really well.

There is incredible power in drilling down and focusing on one thing and doing it with excellence. Drilling down and offering a superior product or service can lead to the following benefits:

  • Consistent Demand: The law of demand means your product or service will always be in demand if it is superior
  • Higher Revenue: A superior product or service will attract a higher price because of higher demand
  • Lower Costs: By focusing on one product or task, you can better optimise your resources towards it

Sounds like the ideal business model. A great example of this is the story of Perth-based Air Conditioning business, Ducted Air Perth.

A Great Success Story

Ducted Air Perth had been supplying and installing a range of Air Conditioning units for over two decades. Striving for growth, they faced the usual struggles of trying to stand out in a market saturated with local contractors and dominated by the big players. Sound familiar?

At the start of 2015 something had to change. They started to look at what they could do to stand out from the competition. In their research they discovered a common pain point their customers had:

“We got sick of hearing from our customers how expensive their foreign made air-conditioning units were to run”, said owner Mike King. “As a result we started to reconsider the types of air-conditioning units we supplied”.

In the single riskiest decision King ever made, he decided to only supply and install a locally designed, premium system built for the climate of their city. The Actron Air brand cost more than other systems, but boasted award winning efficiency and exceptional performance.

“I knew that by specialising in the top end we risked pushing ourselves too far above the market” said King. “We were concerned that there wouldn’t be enough people willing to pay more for a superior system”.

What he found was the exact opposite. Strong customer feedback and word of mouth started to grow his business. In 12 months Ducted Air Perth saw 500% growth in turnover and massive expansion. His team became experts in the Actron Air systems and were able to focus their resources and installation techniques to become more efficient. Naturally, Mike King is glad he took the risk:

“Looking back it seems like becoming an Actron only supplier was the obvious decision to make” says King. “At the time though we were really uncertain and felt it was a big risk for our business.”

Ducted Air Perth had to turn away a lot of work and still have to. But as you can see the long term benefits far outweighed the short term transitional pain.

Applying it to Your Business

The story of Ducted Air Perth illustrates the power of drilling down and specialising as a business. While there are risks associated with such an approach the upside is huge if you can make it work.

Clearly there are some other factors behind the success of this story too. Taking in customer feedback and delivering a solution to the pain points is incredibly valuable for any business. In fact, your customer’s pain points will likely give you guidance into where you can or should drill down as a business.

But possibly the biggest take away here is that nothing comes without risk. Greatness is rarely achieved without some form of risk or opportunity cost. The question is, are you willing to make the changes needed to do one thing well?


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