Is your business a North South or an East West?

Chris Sams, July 30, 2012

When I was a young cub scout I learned how to use a compass.  It taught me that at any given moment I could go any direction that I please.  I always had 360 degrees of options, and each option had a direction or degree on the compass.  But as with most rules there is typically an exception, and this rule of the compass actually has two exceptions.

Thanks to my third grad teacher Mrs. Jepperson, I learned (and have never forgotten)  that their are two places on this earth where the compass is worthless.  Those points are the North and South Pole.  If you were standing on the North Pole you only have one direction to go.  South.  And the same is true of the opposite side of the plant.  If you are on the South Pole you can only go North.

Because of these Poles, the directions of North and South have an end.  You cannot go South or North forever.  If you started walking due North anywhere on this planet, you would eventually hit the North Pole and have to head South.

Interestingly enough, there does not exist an East an West pole.  From anywhere on planet earth (other than the poles) you can start walking West forever, or East forever.

Okay, now that we have this bit of Geography down, let’s talk about your business.  Is it a North South business, or an East West business?  Their is a huge difference in my mind, so let me give you some examples:

  • North South business: Train Builder
  • East West business: Material Transportation


  • North South business: Cupcake Shop
  • East West business: Food Production


  • North South business: Affiliate Marketing Platform
  • East West business: Marketing Firm

You will notice something about these examples.  Each one could represent the same to its perpendicular counterpart.  Now don’t get me wrong, because you can make a lot of money, and got a great distance with a North South business.  Maybe even far enough to make you as wealthy as you want to be in this life.  But the fact of the matter is, when you run a business as a North South business, you are heading for a pole.  But if you an make that theological shift in gears, and regularly make course corrections in your business, you can head west for a long time.

Here are some examples of North South and East West businesses in my mind:

North South:

  • Facebook ®- and I think its too late for them to change course.  Another blog on that another day!
  • YellowPages® – I still get these on my porch a couple times a year
  • Newspapers – And the crazy thing is that good authors are need now more than ever.

East West:

  • Apple® – going East and West at lighting speed
  • Google® – “Don’t be evil” is a great East to West Mantra
  • General Electric® – They own just about everything

So in closing, here are the TO DO’s for your business:

  • Step back at least 4 times a year and look at the direction of your business. Is it North South or East West?
  • When you step back far enough, you should consider the NEEDs of your customer.  Start with Maslow’s hierarchy if you need to.
  • Some times you need an expert to help you see the forest, when you are too stuck in the trees.  (Hey, guess what the author of this blog does for a living?)

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