The only question a business needs to think about

This morning, a friend and I had a quick conversation at the office about California. We talked about sunshine, Malibu, the high-income tax rate. In other words, we covered the spectrum. After all, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to California!

But, there was one unexpectedly interesting staple of California that we had to discuss.

In ‘n Out.

If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you’ve seen the In ‘n Out signature box. There’s a delicious looking burger, beautiful looking fries, and the special sauce on top. You’ve definitely seen that picture and you definitely know the In ‘n Out name. It’s a staple

I’ve actually never been to California, outside of a layover in the airport, so I’ve never been to In ‘n Out. But I do know that if I ever go to California, I’m supposed to go to one of their restaurants for a burger and fries.

Think about that from the business perspective

In ‘n Out has officially appropriated an entire vacation and an entire state. They’ve become a destination in themselves and a can’t miss part of the California experience. They have successfully taught the world that California = spending money at their restaurant.

By successfully becoming such a destination, the family behind the company has become billionaires.

Is there a better business to be in than that? They’ve literally taught the world that a visit to one of the most beautiful places in the world needs to include spending money at their business.

Or, maybe a better question from the business/entrepreneur perspective is: How can you transform your own business into a destination?

First off, you absolutely should want to transform your business into a destination.

It’s the best, and cheapest, way to grow. Think of it this way:

  • You could pay large sums of money to Facebook and Google to advertise. However, if you stop advertising, customers stop coming
  • You could become a destination, limit your ad spend to zero, but still experience rocket-ship growth

When framed that way, a destination is always the best way to go about growing. It’s cheaper and creates the mythical “raving fans” that allow you to grow fast.

But many businesses misinterpret whether or not they are a destination

As a consultant and startup executive, I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go. Many have great teams, great ideas, and poor execution. A lot have horrible ideas but great execution and end up growing quickly.

Regardless of their composition, most believe they are a destination. In the digital space, many believe they are “movement” or “viral.”

That’s not a criticism at all! Our startup believes we are a viral movement. We have to, otherwise, we shouldn’t be working for this startup!

But, to truly become a destination, you need to ask yourself the hard question below:

Will people go out of their way to go visit us?

To grow as a business, you need at least 50 people who will go out of their way to visit you

There’s this little coffee shop brand in London. There are only two locations and neither of which are remotely convenient. But the coffee is delicious.

And when I was in London earlier this year, I made my girlfriend go out of the way by at least an hour to go to this coffee shop. In the process, we probably walked past 100 other coffee shops. Honestly, the coffee at those other shops is probably pretty comparable.

But, I was willing to go that far out of our way (sorry babe!) because I love that coffee shop so much. I’ll defend that coffee shop until my dying day, and I’ll always purchase from them.

I’m a raving fan of theirs. They are a destination for me.

As a business, you need to become a destination for someone. Preferably, at least 50 people to prove there is a market. By becoming a destination that someone is willing to go out of the way for, you have proof that your product matters to someone.

In the case of In ‘n Out, you become a destination that matters to millions of people and the founders become billionaires as a result.

In the case of the coffee shop, you become a destination that matters to at least some people, and you have a successful small business.

But the trick is, no matter what, there are people who are willing to go out of their way to become your customers.

And that’s what you need to become to be a business that grows and succeeds.

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