Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
December 21st, 2016

How to Flatiron the Competition

One of my favorite buildings in New York City isn’t one of the tallest, most prominent or most well-known. No, my favorite is the Flatiron Building. Completed in 1902, this unique building stands only 22 stories tall, but has become a quintessential symbol of New York City. On a recent visit, I took this picture and reflected on how this building has a few lessons it can teach a small business about being successful. Below are three things that are true of the Flatiron Building, and are also true of a successful business.

  1. Stands the test of time – Though the city has changed dramatically around this building, after 100+ years, it is still an icon. Sure, the building’s unique shape helped with that, but it is also located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. This location was always going to be a center of activity in the city, and that helped keep this building prominent. While other, equally impressive, buildings from the time period are walked by without much attention paid. This reminds me to stick to the fundamentals when building a business. In the case of the Flatiron, location was the fundamental that ensured this building would always be prominent. While fads come and go, the essential things that build and sustain a business like value, quality, etc. never go out of style.
  2. Adapt to challenges – The architect of the Flatiron, Daniel Burnham, could have complained about how this strangely shaped piece of property would make it difficult to design an efficient building. Instead, he adapted to the situation and used that potential negative to become the signature design that stands out even today. This reminds me to not allow perceived hurdles to stand in the way of success. Rather than looking at an obstacle as being something that keeps you from achieving your goals, try and think of a way to make that obstacle work to your advantage. The road to success is rarely without bumps, but the companies that excel over time are the ones that learn to adapt to these challenges.
  3. Keep up with the times – Though this building is now over 100 years old, in order to continue to be in demand among tenants, it needed to change with the times. For this building, that meant keeping the historic facade but having state of the art internal mechanicals to facilitate work in the 21st Century. It currently acts as the headquarters of several publishing companies. This reminds me that a successful company must be willing to integrate their fundamentals with the changing landscape that surrounds them. Take an honest inventory of how things are done and determine what is truly fundamental versus what’s being done a certain way just because it’s “always been done that way.” Be willing to change the way you deliver the fundamentals without compromising them. The best example of this comes in marketing. You may want to send a message through marketing of high credibility, reputation, etc. Twenty years ago that was done with the size of your Yellow Page or newspaper ad. Now, you accomplish the same thing with social media and your website. Still promoting the same fundamentals, but delivering it in a way that works in 2017.

I hope as you begin planning on ways to make 2017 your best year yet, and that some of these points will resonate with you. Thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best in 2017!

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  1. Drove by there less than 24Hrs ago, thank you Franco for making the connection to business strategy and longevity.

  2. Drove by there less than 24Hrs ago, thank you Franco for making the connection to business strategy and longevity.

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