Rob Ellerman

Or why we should never judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree

Did you blink?

Wasn’t it barely 2 years ago when the world plunged into economic mayhem courtesy of the pandemic? Businesses and establishments were forced to mete out closures, events all around were cancelled, and a looming financial crisis is still hovering in most parts of the world.

It was once said by a wise man named Joe Black (or was it Benjamin Franklin) that there are only 2 permanent things in the world of the living; Death and taxes. In the last two years both have been ominously omnipresent.

But there is one more thing that counts as a certainty in life; Change.

Change is often brought about by catalysts, like death and taxes. For the movers and shakers in the domain of commerce, the past two years introduced many changes. There are those who have the scale and size to withstand the challenges, and sadly there were many others, institutions included, who made their final curtain call.

Yet here we are. We remain. We’ve had some serious changes going on, upfront and center of the industry, and though many have gone, there are those that remain. Like you and me. So, let’s talk about that.

Let’s discuss how “change” is basic, and undeniably a part of entrepreneurship, commerce, and marketing. Because it’s really important to talk about the key ideas in dealing with all these changes in the marketplace especially during these challenging times.

Let’s ask the right questions and come up with the right answers.

When confronted with the element of surprise, we are often left to deal with outcomes that begin with questions that are entirely our own to answer. Questions like;

  • What am I supposed to do?
  • How can I overcome this challenge?
  • What’s my strategy?
  • Where’s my Plan B?
  • Am I having a panic attack?
  • Is there anyone out there?
  • Hello?


Kidding aside, the harsh reality is that as an entrepreneur, marketer, or business owner, we need to acclimatize to an ever changing landscape with grandeur economic conditions of what is now known as modern day commerce. In our struggle to keep up with the times and tides of a technology driven marketplace, we grapple and come face to face with ideas from all directions.
We formulate strategies and find solutions.

We find and develop our core competencies.

Understanding Core Competency

The term core competency was coined by C.K Prahalad and Gary Hemel in their article “The Core Competence of the Corporation,” published by Harvard Business review in 1990. According to that article, “Core Competencies are the collective learning in the organization, especially how to coordinate the diverse production skills and integrate multiple strands of technology.”

Core competence is communication, involvement in a deep commitment to working across organizational boundaries. It involves many levels of people and all functions. Moreover, unlike physical assets, which do not deteriorate over time, competencies are enhanced as they are applied and shared. But competencies still need to be nurtured and protected; knowledge fades if it is not used. Competencies are the glue that binds existing businesses. They are also the engine for new business development.

That essentially sums up what the idea of core competency is all about and how core competency can be leveraged most effectively and where it is that core competencies tend to thrive. Simply put, if you were to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid. Sometimes the inability of fair evaluation of something to be lined up with what actual core competency is can be compared to such allegory.

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, he’s not going to do a very good job of climbing that tree. He’s not going to do very well in the evaluation. Why? Because you’re not judging the fish by his core competency! Of course we all know the core competency of a fish is that it swims well, right? If you’re going to evaluate a fish, you’d say, “Hey this fish moves around in the water pretty well!”

Your core competency is what makes you special, what makes your company special, what makes your credit repair organization special, what makes your business credit organization special or any type of organization you might have.

At Mirku, what makes us special is;

  • We are committed to being, hands down, the business development, and networking and thought leaders in the credit space. That’s where we excel the best, and that’s what differentiates us from our competitors.

Once an organization has identified as desired core competencies, it must develop a strategy for maximizing their potential. Doing so will allow a company to deliver value to its customers based upon a sustainable competitive advantage and these enhanced proficiencies should represent an organization’s collective learning and the ways in which it aligns diverse talent sets and technologies in order to establish competitive differentiation.

What does that mean?

It basically means you need to find a niche and dominate it.
Competitive differentiation is a strategic positioning tactic an organization can undertake to set its products, services, and brands apart from those of its competitors. It means that you need to focus on key result areas, basically the areas in which you are expecting to get results.

By key areas, this only means areas where it’s important that you see results happen, an example of that might be you know your front end marketing, it might be your ability to deliver a good closing script. It might be your ability to pull credit. it might be your ability to onboard a client successfully, or it might be your ability to get through that first round and make sure that you’re setting the hook and delivering a high level of service. It might be the back end processing or your ability to actually render the service over time effectively in such a way that you’re getting many deletions.

Basically, those are the key areas in which a credit repair company’s value chain is compromised by the presence of a weakest link. Basically, your important skills determines the height of your success, and you have an entire chain of activities that has to happen in each individual successful encounter with a customer.

Say for instance, your entire model is limited by the area in which there’s a weak link in your chain. The old cliche is your chain is only as successful as its weakest link, and if you have a weak link in your chain which you don’t replace or optimize, your entire chain isn’t going to function properly. It’s actually going to break at the same point every single time.

This is about the time, when, where, and why you do what you do best and link to the rest.

More than just your run of the mill saying in business circles, this line is actually a strategic imperative. The way you start this process is by breaking down and compartmentalizing the components of your business.

Here’s how:

  1. Ask yourself the question, what factors determine your organization’s profitability?
  2. As discussed above, is it that front end set position?
  3. Is it the closer position?
  4. Is it the onboarding of the client?
  5. Is it the process where you go from onboarding to actually doing the processing?
  6. Are you not getting your letters out on time?
  7. Do you have a constraint around different workflows in your processing system?

If you do, then sometimes it can be better not to try to eat the whole apple. Sometimes it can be better to delegate. Having a process and why a process orientation is important can make all the difference. That definitely is true and we’re holding steadfast to that idea, however, right now the difference we are talking about is how to isolate your process, identify strengths and weaknesses of all the viable components.

That is optimization.

However, mind how you optimize things.

If you’re not going to or if you’re not able to compartmentalize things, you’re not able to differentiate between which points in the process you’re strong at, and which points in the process you’re weak at. If you’re entirely new to this industry, it’s probably important to get strong at the front end of the value chain which is your customer engagement and your marketing and things like that.

Usually things tend to roll downhill from there, then you can work your optimization cycle backwards and you can start to fill in things where you’re going to see other people or other organizations might have strengths in those areas where you can leverage those companies.

Have you heard about “prerequisite optimization”?

A prerequisite optimization is a “network” of resources to enhance your “compartments” along your value chain. So if you’re out there and you’re trying to build your successful business and let’s say this is a successful business credit or successful credit repair business, what you have to understand is that there are different compartments that comprise the success of that overall organization.

A lot of people have an understanding of this but a lot of people don’t use these terms. I think it helps to use these terms because if you use these terms then what you’re going to be able to do is you’re going to be able to start to wrap your mind around where it is specifically that your chain might be broken, where it is where it is that your value proposition is faltering.

Lessons from SimCity

Now, it’s important to consider that you know the optimization process is perpetual, there’s always going to be something that’s out of balance. This may be a strange example but it just popped into my head when I was young I used to play the game SimCity. I think it’s still played on mobile devices and things like that, but there was always a relationship between your commercial activity or industrial activity and the residential activity.

There is always a scale and the characters always had to exist in a ratio between each other. So when you’re setting up your city or town or whatever the sort of the point of the game, was to make sure that everything was in balance. When you’re running your business you’re kind of going through a similar process. You enhance one part of your chain and then the other part of your chain might falter or fail. Then, you go to enhance another part of your chain and you know it may actually cause issues with your other pieces. It’s a little bit like whack-a-mole but it’s fun.

The optimization process is perpetual. It’s always in motion, it basically is the business and the thing that you’re going to be doing as you build a successful credit repair organization is to identify your “choke point” and integrate a superior system.

At Mirku, we provide your business with internal mechanisms to help with that choke point, or an external outsourcing mechanism, which is definitely the quickest way to actually move into a fully optimized value chain or process flow.

Authenticity and Zeal

Here are some introspective questions that you can deal with as an individual, but also best answered at an organizational level.

  1. Where are you most comfortable?
  2. What is it you do best?
  3. What is it that your organization does best?
  4. What is it that your organization should be doing?
  5. Can you be honest about your weaknesses?
  6. Do you have the ability to be ruthlessly introspective?


These are not trick questions and there are really no right answers. As long as you have authenticity and zeal and you’re into it and it’s what you love, that’s really the name of the game.

Your authenticity and zeal is what counts because you’re coming to the marketplace not only as someone who’s looking to serve the end user but also as someone who’s looking to serve the industry at large. And if you’re going to be ruthlessly introspective about yourself and if you’re ruthlessly introspective about your organization, what you’re going to come to understand is that you have some weaknesses. You know you have to watch out for the people who don’t have weaknesses and you have to watch out for the companies that don’t have weaknesses, because if those weaknesses aren’t identified you’re not going to be able to optimize anything.

The old cliche goes that if your cup is all the way filled up or if it’s full, nobody’s going to come give you any more coffee, right?

Know your orientation and always grow to assess your personal weaknesses and also to assess your organization’s weaknesses. If you have a proper compartmentalized value chain, what you’re going to be able to do is you’re going to be able to isolate those weaknesses and understand where they fit in your system and how optimizing that specific point is going to help you and your company.