Category Archives: Innovation

July 2017 Newsletter – How to Multiply Your Profits

How to Multiply Your Profits

You may have seen the announcement last week that Amazon will start selling Sears Kenmore appliances. Not only that, they revealed Sears and Amazon will start working on fully integrating Amazon’s voice assistance, Alexa with Sear’s smart appliances.

This will allow people to control things like air conditioners with voice commands that will be synched with Alexa.

Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail said it’s a win for Sears, putting its products where customers are shopping. He went on to say because of Sears falling sales this is good step in finding “Other channels and routes to markets”.

This new relationship will provide Sears additional revenue because the service work and product warrantee services will be provided by Sears Home Services.

What is a Delivery Channel?Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GA

Sears and Amazon’s new venture is an example of a company developing additional Delivery Channels for its products/services. What is a Delivery Channel?

Delivery channels are the methods by which you deliver or distribute your product or service to your Customer. It is important to note there are several terms used for delivery channels. Sometimes these are called “sales channels,” “marketing channels”, or “distribution channels”. All these terms refer to how your product will be provided to your Customer; I will use the term “delivery channel.”

For instance, you could ship your product directly to a Customer, they could pick it up at your location, buy it from a retail store to whom you initially sold your product at wholesale prices, or, if applicable, they could download your product from your web site. Marketing-type delivery channels might involve doing direct sales to your Customer or developing, working with, and supporting a network of distributors.

Developing Multiple Delivery Channels

The more delivery channels you have, the more sales you can have by providing the same product to your Customers via multiple and alternative means.

For instance, the soft drink Coca-Cola® is delivered (sold) to their Customers in three basic ways:

  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased at stores
  • Fountain drinks purchased at restaurants, sporting events, or similar places
  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased via vending machines

Consequently, the Coca-Cola® bottling company can easily obtain additional revenue from the sale of one product, the Coca-Cola® soft drink, because it has multiple delivery channels. We have all seen this when a physical retail store chain establishes an online retail presence; it is just being delivered via a different channel.

Two Delivery Channel Decisions

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAThere are two decisions that involve this delivery channel area. First, which is the best and most appropriate delivery channel for your product? Second, which additional delivery channels justify their cost? Because there are additional costs to develop and maintain each delivery channel, you must compare your incremental revenue to your incremental costs to verify that the effort of creating additional delivery channels makes sense.

There is an added factor that must be considered when you explore additional delivery channels—will the marketplace be confused using the additional delivery channel so the overall message of your solution becomes distorted?

This issue of confusion is what Starbucks Coffee® faced when it introduced its VIA® product for making coffee at home compared to the product that was being delivered through its retail coffee establishments. That is, would VIA® be viewed as an alternative to going to a Starbucks Coffee® location and therefore cannibalize its sales, or be viewed as another delivery channel of the Starbucks Coffee® product and thereby grow overall sales?

Secondary Delivery Channels Benefits

Besides the additional revenue, there are two related secondary benefits that using multiple delivery channels can bring to your business. First, the same marketing efforts can be used to promote and drive multiple delivery channels. For instance, a television advertisement for a physical store can have a web site listed at the bottom and the words “shop online at” added at the end of the commercial.

Second, there is potential for a spillover effect when promoting one delivery channel when the same product can be purchased from a different delivery channel than the one being promoted in the advertising.

For instance, a soft drink advertisement shows the soft drink being served at a cool, relaxing, and pleasant pool party, which would encourage sales from a physical store delivery channel for take-home consumption. On a different occasion, the consumer passes a vending machine in the middle of a hot city, they remember the advertisement showing the pleasant pool party, and they purchase the same soft drink via a different delivery channel (the vending machine) because of the image that has been set in their mind.

Delivery Channel Assessment

To take advantage of new Delivery Channels an assessment is required of how you are providing your product to your Customer and whether you should expand your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAdelivery channels.

The determination of the delivery channel(s) for your product and the possible use of multiple delivery channels are influenced by the following factors:

  • How your Customer has traditionally purchased your product
  • The physical attributes of your product
  • Technology involving the delivery of your product
  • The amount of risk involved in the purchase (e.g., buying potato chips, which could easily be sold via a vending machine, compared to an automobile purchase)
  • The demographics/culture/religion of the purchaser
  • How you are able to reach the decision maker
  • The motives of the purchaser
  • The purchaser’s perceptions about your product
  • The ability of and knowledge of the purchaser
  • The attitudes toward your product
  • The lifestyle of the purchaser
  • How opinion leaders shape your market
  • How people’s roles and family influences affect various delivery channels
  • The social class of the purchaser
  • The culture and subculture of the purchaser

The bottom line of completing the above analysis is to maximize your revenue. So, you want to consider and possibly choose all the delivery channels you have available to generate the largest sales volume.

If you need assistance in fully developing your Delivery Channels, please contact us using the below information so we can show you to multiply your revenue and profits.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

February 2017 Newsletter – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

While at an event recently, I was talking with a Senior VP of Marketing of a Fortune 1000 company and the topic of keeping customers satisfied and happy came up. They went on to share their company was so committed to building long-lasting customer relationships that several years ago they hired a VP of Customer Relations to be the “voice of the customer” within their company.

Shortly thereafter, the actual VP of Customer Relations joined our conversation. As we chatted I shared that our firm has done a lot of work in the area of Customer Experience Improvement and that we described the objective that organizations should shoot for as – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™. That is, you want to create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again. That is how repeat sales and customer referrals are generated.

In working with customers, the most important action is to meet or fulfill their perceived need. However, almost as crucial is the overall experience they have in interacting with your organization.

Satisfying Versus Unsatisfying Experiences

We have all had many experiences where our wants or needs were met, but the overall experience ranged from less than desirable to awful.

The fast food restaurant that was anything but fast, although we did eat. The car repair that cost us more than the car was worth, though the car now runs again. The home repair job that had to be repaired another time. The vacation experience that was anything but relaxing. The tool or appliance purchase that was a trying experience. The meal at a fine dining restaurant that was not a great experience – food but not much else.

Think back to the last time that on a 1 to 10 scale, you personally as a customer had a 10 or even an 11 experience. How did you feel? Did you tell others about the company? Did you become their advocate, not just their satisfied customer?

An Incredible Customer Experience

In working with one of our clients several years ago they shared an incredible example of Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™.

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and a couple of years ago we had a summer with a number of days over 100 degrees (which is very, very unusual for us). So people’s air conditioning was regularly breaking down.

One of our clients is a very large HVAC company and one of their sales people was out completing an order for a man in the hot sun one afternoon. As the sales person was finishing up the order, an elderly neighbor came running across the street saying something empathically – so the sales person thought “this is just what I don’t need.

As the neighbor approached them he said “you have to buy from who I got mine from”. As it turned out, the neighbor had bought their air conditioner from the same company – our client’s company. The sales person was greatly heartened.

Our client had created an Experience Worth Repeating for the elderly neighbor that was so good, that on a blazingly hot day he would run across the street to say – you have to buy from the company where I got mine from!

Five Ways to Improve your Customer’s Experience

Small Business Planning in AtlantaHow do you go about Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer?

Your organization must build this in from the core of your offering. It must be engineered in. It cannot just be something that you add as a veneer or is an after-the-fact add in – to try to create a nicer customer experience.

Listed below are paths you can use to move your company towards Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer:

  1. Ask your customers and then actively listen to what they say they want and how they want to receive it. Many times companies just don’t want to hear the reality of how they are doing.
  2. Be your own customer. Call into your company and pretend to be a prospect. What is your experience like? Purchase your own product and see what your overall experience is like. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
  3. Use focus groups, customer panels and research tools to try to get inside your customer’s mind as to what they want their overall experience to be.
  4. Ask your employees who directly interact with your customers what they think can be done to improve your customer’s experience. If you do this in a sincere and open way they will give you tons of ideas because they see what your customers want on a daily basis.
  5. Take a step back and ask yourself “how ought the world work with regard to my customer getting their need met?” That is, from their point of view, what would an ideal customer experience look like?

If you need assistance with Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer please contact us using the below information so we can show you how create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again – resulting in repeat sales and customer referrals.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

November 2016 Newsletter – “Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part II

“Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part II

We have all been there – you are out of the office using your Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop and you want to print something. But lugging a bulky printer with you is not feasible.

Enter a company named Zuta Labs, which recently introduced new mobile, robotic printer (that ships in early 2017) the size of a baseball which enables people to print anywhere and on any size paper!

They used the concept we introduced in the October Newsletter of “How Ought the World to Work” to develop an ideal solution to printing something when you are out of the office.

They reasoned that printers are essentially a print head running back and forth on a moving piece of paper, so let’s reverse the process. Let’s place a print head on a set of small wheels and let it move across a sheet of paper, thereby allowing a printer to become tiny.

The Initial Four Steps in “Future Proofing” Your Company

Last month we looked at how to “Future Proof” your company for 2017 and beyond by fostering visionary thinking. This involves moving past theSmall Business Planning

constraints of your current operations to embrace a future that is very different from today. We examined four components of this open-ended, re-conceptualizing process:

  1. To start to develop “ideal solutions” you must get inside your customer’s heart and mind to fully understand what your Customer’s needs are and how they sense these needs
  2. Then utilize the concept of “how ought the world to work” for your customer to create ideal solutions for your customer’s need
  3. During this process do not limit your possibility thinking, but start from a totally unconstrained point of view so that you think outside the box
  4. The goal of this process is to generate multiple “ideal solutions” that provide you with an array of options, which may include variants of some ideal solutions

Let us now examine the remaining four steps of “future proofing” your company.

Narrow your ideal solutions to a certain price level or target market

The fifth step is to narrow your ideal solution down to the best solution that can be provided at a certain price level or to a particular market that has pricing constraints. Keep in mind that you are still ignoring your current business in this process and are not taking into account how you currently operate.

Let us look at an example of this narrowing process. Say that you are a mid-priced cruise ship line, and you are completing this re-conceptualizing process. In this step you will evaluate various ideal solutions at a mid-market price level, not a luxury cruise line price level. During the previous steps, you should consider all the ways you could better serve your customer, no matter what the cost, even if a certain idea or option does not fit in your pricing range as a mid-price cruise line. This is because during this step you may be able to modify an idea that is too expensive to provide an improved solution to your current customer within various pricing constraints.

Bear in mind as you are completing this exercise, the absolute best solution you can provide to your customer at a certain price level may change over time with advances in technology or changes in the environment, energy, social, or political arenas affecting your market.

Decide what you are willing to change in your business to provide an improved solution to your customer

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaThe next step involves coming back to the real world and considering where your organization is currently at, and starting to visualize how your business could provide this ideal solution. This stage requires you to look at the personality of your company and its available resources in the context of being able to produce and deliver this ideal or perfect solution. This step also requires you to assess how willing you are to possibly change your entire company philosophy, business model, and operations to be the source of an ideal solution to your customer’s need.

The above process of envisioning, consideration, analysis, and deliberation should lead you to make decisions about how far you are willing to go in the process of creating an ideal solution to your customers’ needs. This phase automatically yields a continuum of options that are available to you as a business owner. You could choose to make the commitment to totally transform your business to be the provider of the ideal solution for your customer (which may also require you to transform your Delivery Channel). Alternatively, you could choose to do nothing at all. Or you could choose to do something in between. Included in this continuum of options are various incremental approaches to moving your current solution toward the ideal solution.

Develop the systems to deliver the improved solution

The seventh step involves determining what systems would need to be changed within your company to deliver the improved solution to your customer. This analysis requires you to consider, design, implement, and perfect the methodologies that will be necessary for delivering this new solution to your customer.

To supply this more desirable solution to your customer, you must engineer into your systems the quality and other attributes that your improved product must contain so that your business can produce the product. By concentrating on the optimization of the system that will be used to provide the new ideal product, you will as a consequence perfect both the product and the system that provides it.

Identify other changes you need to make in your business to provide the solution upon which you have decided

The last step in the re-conceptualizing process is to take a step back and consider what other things in your organization you may wish to change in Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaconjunction with providing an improved solution to your customer. To do this, once you have decided on what improved or ideal solution you will be providing, then re-examine your company’s Critical Success Factors to determine if any of them require updating.

If your re-conceptualizing process results in your entity basically continuing in the same direction as it has been going, then most likely you will not have to revise your Critical Success Factors. However, if you are making any substantial change to the direction of your business as reflected in its Vision, then most likely you will need to evaluate and possibly modify your Critical Success Factors and Strategy components.

Just like Zuta Labs did by developing a mobile, robotic printer which enables people to print anywhere and on any size paper, by using the concept and process of “how ought the world to work” to create ideal solutions for your customer’s need, you will be able to “Future Proof” your company.

If you need assistance with how to use this concept of “how ought the world to work” to transform your organization, please contact us using the below information.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

October 2016 Newsletter – “Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond – Part I

“Future Proofing” Your Company for 2017 and Beyond

Recently, industrial heavyweight companies Fujifilm and Hitachi announced plans to incredibly change the future of their respective companies by significantly investing in the area of Stem Cell research and development. These are marked departures from their traditional areas of focus.

In their announcement they said while Stem Cell research and development is a small sector now, it is expected to grow in Japan to $950M by 2020 and to $120B worldwide by 2030. This is a bold move based upon their view of where the world is going and their Vision for how they want their companies to look like in the future.

How does an organization foster such visionary thinking? How can a leader move past the constraints of their current operations to embrace a future that is very different from today? I call this open-ended process, re-conceptualizing a business.

“How Ought the World to Work”

I have found that a great way to jumpstart the re-conceptualizing process is to reflect on or ponder about “how ought the world to work” in the context of Small Business Planning in Atlantathe environment in which your business operates. This involves focusing on your Customer and envisioning the best way they could have their need met (i.e. how ought the world to work from the standpoint of their need?)

At the beginning of your re-conceptualizing process, absolutely do not limit or consider the meeting of your Customer’s needs in the context of how your existing business operates. In fact, it may be helpful to pretend that your business does not even exist! In essence, imagine in a perfect world the best possible way that your Customer’s goals could be met.

One of our clients, a Physician recruitment and Physician office training company, used this unconstrained view of their company to begin the process of re-shaping their organization into an online Portal for all things related to operating a Physician Office practice.

How Would an Ideal World Operate?

This step will require you to expand your thinking and develop your thoughts regarding how an ideal world would operate pertaining to your market and your Customer’s needs being fulfilled. In imagining how ought the world to work or operate, it may be useful to reflect on the “true values” of life, the “truths of life,” the entire concept of excellence, and how excellence would be manifested in your market.

Here are ten innovations from 1995 to 2010 where someone asked – What is the best way that our customers’ needs can be met?

  1. iPod
  2. YouTube
  3. Smart phones
  4. Groupon
  5. Facebook
  6. All-electric cars
  7. Civilian hypersonic aircraft for space tourism
  8. Apps for smart phones
  9. Civilian use of GPS

An Unconstrained Point of View

Small Business Planning in AtlantaTo properly complete the re-conceptualizing process, you must first examine and determine the ideal solution from an unconstrained point of view – you want to think outside the box and not limit your possibility thinking. By thinking about all the various options that could meet your Customer’s needs, you will be able to generate the greatest number of options, possibilities, and alternatives for enabling your Customers to achieve their goals.

While some of these ideas may be unrealistic from a technical standpoint or pricing perspective, the ideas will spawn other ideas, thoughts, and concepts that may be more practical. One way of looking at this step is that it is a uniquely targeted method of brainstorming related to what you can do with your business. The outcome from this uniquely constructed method of brainstorming is then eligible to become your renewed Vision for your business.

Generate Multiple “Ideal Solutions”

Please remember that the above process may not yield just one ideal solution; it may present multiple ideal solutions. In fact, this exercise of looking at how ought the world to work may provide you with an array of options, which may include variants of ideal solutions. At this point in the exercise, do not let your possibility thinking be constrained by costs to deliver or price points in your market; the goal is to develop as many excellent ideal solutions as possible.

An example of this is when one of our clients, a large HVAC company, went through this process they ended up with several very different options for moving forward. They allowed themselves to fully flesh out each one independently and once they had considered the advantages and disadvantages of each one, they choose one that over the past 8 years has generated a 10-fold increase in revenue.

Get Inside Your Customer’s Heart and Mind

Keep in mind that to fully understand what your Customer’s needs are and how they sense their needs, you must get inside their hearts and minds. To Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiafully comprehend your Customer’s needs, you must understand and address their perceived short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals, and the related emotional state that they perceive they want to be in as a result of achieving their goals.

This entire concept of getting inside your Customer’s heart and mind is the foundation of preparing for 2017 and beyond because the world is changing and changing fast and your organization must be ready for these changes.

In next month’s Newsletter, I will cover the remaining four steps of “future proofing” your company by looking at how ought the world to work.

If you need assistance with how to use this concept of “How ought the world to work” to transform your organization, please contact us using the below information.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

September 2016 Newsletter – Seizing the Opportunity to Triple Your Revenue

Seizing the Opportunity to Triple Your Revenue

Last month we examined a major force in the business marketplace – the threat of “disruption” and how to overcome it by creating game changing innovations within your company.

This month I would like to look at the flip side, the incredible opportunity being presented to virtually every company or organization in the world.

Unprecedented Middle-Class Growth

According to a number of experts, including Brookings Institution scholar Homi Kharas, the worldwide middle class will increase from 1.8 billion to 4.9 billion people by the year 2030. This increase will mainly occur in Asia and India, however significant middle-class growth will also take place in Central and South America, the southern fringes of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

According to organizations like the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), currently middle class is defined as someone who earns or spends $10 to $100 per day – depending on the local cost of living.

At that point a person has enough disposable income to purchase consumer items like smart cell phones, microwaves, upscale clothing or consider buying a car.

As the UN suggests, the growth is being driven by industrialization and the globalization of the economy. The industrial revolution of the 19th Century and globalization of the economy in the second half of the 20th Century transformed the economies of much of the world. As this continues, the move from agrarian to industrial societies in other countries will generate income increases that will create enormous groups of middle class consumers.

Why This Matters to You

But what does this mean to you?

It means that there will be consumers everywhere in the world, not just in your current country. Business Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaopportunities will explode. This explosion in the middle class and development of the transportation and related systems necessary to get goods to them will enable you to sell products worldwide.

For service companies the demand for and infrastructure (i.e. the Internet) required to deliver them will allow you to provide services anywhere on the Earth. The unprecedented opportunity to deliver medical services globally will raise the standard of living and improve the health of much of the world.

Tourism will explode because many more people will have the time and money to see areas outside their local geographies. That is why there has been a recent binge in airlines buying planes – they know this travel explosion is coming.

The bottom line is that the Internet and globalization are changing everything!

As long as trade wars and major disruptions from terrorist attacks can be avoided, the future of the world and growth opportunities this presents for businesses looks very inviting.

Innovation is the Key to World-Wide Growth

So how does a company get across the chasm of threats from disruption to the land of 21st century opportunity? By applying innovation to itself to develop a much larger, even a global footprint.

To do this, closely consider what your organization currently does and then examine how to take advantage of this nearly tripling of the world-wide middle class? That is, how can you tap into consumers across the world? What actions can you take to start selling your products in other countries? Where do you need to begin to become a global services company?

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaAdditionally, how could you go about delivering medical products and services across borders? What steps could you take to avail yourself of the explosion in world-wide tourism and related services occurring? Where could you begin to use the Internet more fully to reach this global market?

At the core of all these opportunities is the need for and call for innovation. Once the above opportunities have been deeply considered, then closely examine your company to determine how you can apply innovation to it to take it to the next level.

Ways to Go Global

Increasingly, there are more and more Federal, State and Regional organizations that can help you expand internationally. Also, many Industry Organizations offer assistance with taking these steps.

Alternatively, instead of taking the actions by yourself, you could partner with another company in your country that is already doing business overseas.

Another tactic to utilize is to contact foreign companies doing business in your geographic area and provide innovative services to them as your customer. Once they are pleased with your products or services, ask them if they could facilitate you doing the same for their operations in other countries.

If you are already operating in foreign lands, use this new-found understanding of the upcoming middle-class growth from 1.8 billion to 4.9 billion people to ignite your commitment to fully embracing the company-wide innovation that will be necessary to avail yourself of this opportunity.

By taking these steps you will be able to grow revenue, attract new customers, and generate more profits.

If you need assistance with how to use innovation to grow your global presence, please contact us so we can show you how to do this by using innovation to transform your organization.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy and FastTrak Innovation Programmethodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

August 2016 Newsletter – Is Economic Disruption Knocking at Your Company’s Door?

Is Economic Disruption Knocking at Your Company’s Door?

Various thought leaders say we have moved from the Information Age to the Innovation Age and companies that innovate faster than their competition will be the future winners. We see that all around us. New innovative companies are springing up almost overnight, while other, more established organizations are struggling to survive.

Disruption

A key component of this new Innovation Age is “Disruption”, which has become a major force in the business marketplace. What is disruption?

According to innovation expert, Clayton Christensen, disruption is caused by an innovation that so completely changes an existing market so as to displace established market leading firms or totally unbalance existing products and alliances. Below are some examples of disruption:

  • The cell phone/camera disrupted Kodak basically out of business
  • Internet video streaming and companies like Red Box and Netflix killed once venerable Blockbuster Video
  • Online retailer Amazon has created massive problems for retailers with physical stores
  • The new Apple Watch threatens to disrupt the personal medical equipment industry
  • Uber has disrupted the taxi cab and shuttle bus marketplace

“Disruption Won’t Affect Me”

But you may be thinking, “disruption won’t affect me, it only affects big companies”. A very interesting article by Geoff Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaColvin, Senior Editor-at-Large of Fortune Magazine said even if your model has worked for decades, even if it’s working okay right now, odds are that soon it won’t be. Business models are suddenly becoming obsolete, almost in the blink of an eye. Below are some industries that are currently facing disruption:

  • Education industry – With the advent of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and the internet in general, the education industry is wrestling with how they can lower the cost of learning and provide greater value in an increasingly competitive industry
  • Banking – In talking with various banking executives they are very concerned about the explosion of non-traditional banking options including Apple Pay and Android Pay. Many concede they could be out of business in the next 20 years from these upstart companies
  • Music – Artists are able to by-pass the traditional recording industry and release and manage their music themselves which has thrown a big monkey wrench in the recording industry’s business model

Disruption not only affects large companies, it impacts smaller and mid-sized ones. For instance, one of our clients is one of the oldest sod companies in the state of Georgia and they are facing disruption due to new organizations that are buying up small sod operations, consolidating them, and deriving cost savings and efficiencies from combining them. They are then cutting the price on sod and using social media and other mass advertising to increase their sales volume. This is proving to be a huge challenge for our client.

Two Possible Responses to Disruption

There are only two possible responses that an organization can opt for in the face of this looming challenge of disruption. First, just put one’s figurative “head in the sand”, ignore the disruptive forces, and hope they just go away. Second, acknowledge the disruptive influences, stay abreast of their ongoing development, and embrace one’s own use of innovation as a counter offensive. This second strategy involves trying to overcome the tidal wave of disruption battering a business by the company itself creating game changing innovations.

If an organization did follow this second approach, how would this impact the company? Obviously the innovations would form a bulwark against the disruptive effects and allow it to grow revenue, attract new customers, and generate more profits.

But there are additional benefits to doing this. If an innovative environment is developed, just like Amazon, Zappos Shoes and Google have done, your employees couldn’t wait to get to work each day. Or you could end up being like Apple, whose customers will buy its new products “sight unseen”, and customer loyalty could become your company’s greatest asset. You could establish an exciting, fun and rewarding business to come to every morning. An organization in which every one of your employees becomes a fountain of innovation.

There are three primary steps that can be taken to foster an innovative environment:

Proactive Leadership is a Main Ingredient for Innovation

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaYour employees need to know that innovation is important to your organization and that you want them try to develop innovations. A leader’s role should be to articulate, support and promote innovation. This results in clarity of objectives, an emphasis on staff participation, and nurturing of innovation. The goal of this leadership is to establish a creative environment within your organization.

Active leadership is a main ingredient in creating an environment where innovation thrives. The need for innovation has resulted in a new focus on the role of leadership in shaping the nature and success of creative efforts. Studies show that an innovative climate is positively correlated to the presence of proper leadership.

A leader should challenge their followers to take ownership for their effort and its outcome, thereby causing the staff to align and regiment their daily activities with the company’s overall vision.

The proper leading of an organization’s innovation initiative contributes to both idea generation and idea implementation. Using patent awards as a measure of innovation, studies have shown that proactive leadership was linked to effective innovation and the support and development of new ideas.

Develop a Strategy for Innovation

An organization should develop a strategic, long term approach to innovation by looking outside itself to determine what markets, sectors, applications, product types, and technologies have significant growth potential. Ideally, these areas are at least somewhat adjacent to existing markets in which it currently participates.

Then an assessment can be performed to determine the company’s core competencies. This includes identifying the unique capabilities of the business that can be leveraged to advantage in other markets, applications, and sectors. The goal is to work from an organization’s strengths and base of knowledge, as compared to starting from zero in an entirely new market of which nothing is known.

This is exactly what Corning did when it leveraged its knowledge in glass and related materials to create a product usedSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia for the flat LCD displays (for cell phones initially, then laptops and desk top monitors, and lastly for LCD TVs and larger displays). This type of thinking led to major innovations that were developed in each of Corning’s business sectors over the past decade, including the creation of four new product lines. These efforts literally turned the company around from having loses to huge profits.

Once the strategic areas for innovation have been identified, they should be communicated to the firm’s employees so that they know areas you want them to focus on. Thereafter, during the year leadership and management should provide encouragement to their personnel and share stories and examples how they have been successful with innovations in their areas of strategic focus.

Provide Training on Innovation

The third piece that needs to be put in place is innovation skills training for your staff. Training is necessary because people generally don’t recognize opportunities for innovation without education on how to think in such a way to spot these “golden nugget” ideas. Training should include on how to come up with ideas, which is called ideation, how to develop the ideas into innovations, and how to commercialize innovations.

This training should include how to use appropriate innovation “tools” because various innovation processes and tools have been developed to enable the effective and rapid creation of innovations. These tools include both hi-tech and low-tech items like standard development procedures and systematic testing processes.

Ideally, the training is provided in a live setting so that the participants can practice using the tools. Thereafter, an intranet portal can be made available to provide employees with ongoing learning and innovation skill set development.

Part of the innovation education initiative can also utilize specially trained internal innovation mentors to keep people on track with their efforts. Also, bringing in outside experts can speed the entire innovation process.

By taking these steps you will be able to overcome the disruptive influences that may be threatening your company and enable you to grow revenue, attract new customers, and generate more profits.

Additionally, by taking these actions you will create an innovative environment where your employees can’t wait to get to work each day, customer loyalty could become your company’s greatest asset, and every one of your employees becomes a fountain of innovation. As a result of this you would establish an exciting, fun and rewarding business to come to every morning.

If you need assistance with how to use innovation to overcome potential disruptive forces in your marketplace, please contact us so we can show you how to do this by using innovation to transform your organization.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

July 2016 Newsletter – Using Your IT Area as a Strategic Asset

Using Your IT Area as a Strategic Asset

I recently saw a very futuristic TV commercial by Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) that touted the announcement of their “The Machine”. You may have seen it too or another related one. As I reflected on this ad I wondered what cutting edge technology would be unveiled in this new product?

New technologies are being developed all the time and the speed that this is occurring is increasing all the time. Some of these new knowledge bases can disrupt entire industries and markets. Additionally, they can make certain products and methods obsolete almost overnight.

In this month’s newsletter I will discuss a tool you can you use to try to prevent being caught off guard by leap-frog advances in know-how.

Avoiding Technology “Shiny Thing” Syndrome

The introduction of innovative technologies is extremely attractive to most people. However, the difficulty is how to avoid being beguiled by some new “shinny thing” that may just drain your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaresources instead of strategically moving you towards your company’s goals.

While technology is not an end in itself, the proper use of technology can make your life easier and better, thereby enabling various areas of your business to operate better. The proper use of technology is a tool that can aid in the collection, validation, and automated utilization of information and knowledge throughout your organization.

Using Technology Strategically

But the key question is – How can technology in general and specifically information technology be utilized to strategically automate and optimize processes in various areas of your business? Areas such as:

  • Marketing and Sales
  • Production
  • Finance and Administration
  • Human Assets

When you look at the big picture of Information Technology you realize it impacts your operations, customers, markets, competition, production, finances, employees, etc. Therefore, by adopting current technologies, you can manage your operations most effectively, beat your competition, and plan and prepare for the future.

The advantageous use of technology functions as multiplier or an enhancer of the other components of your operations. However, the challenge is to determine which of many and competing information technologies can be effectively used to operate your company in a better and more efficient manner. While most organizations have a person or team that tries to stay abreast of new technological advances, I would like to suggest using the below additional tool.

Utilizing Outside Technology Experts

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaBecause information technology and technology from an overall standpoint are complex, constantly moving targets, a great way to not be unaware of new developments is engage an outside consultant who specializes in information technology or technology in general as it applies to your industry. In every sector there are top, independent experts that can be used to make sure the organization is informed on the technologies that can make a great impact on it, or ones that are just over the horizon, but show great promise.

Let me give you an example. Terry Brock is a noted technology expert in the Professional Speaking industry and he regularly consults with Professional Speakers organizations on what technologies are currently being used by leading Professional Speakers. This includes providing tips on the use of best practices. Additionally, he guides people in understanding what new technologies are just coming out, which ones are replacing older approaches and which technologies are becoming obsolete.

What to Look for in an Outside Technology Expert

Industry specific technology experts have a two huge edges over a company’s internal technology research capabilities. First, since they almost assuredly have been working in a business’ market for many years they have personal relationships with universities, research organizations, think tanks and the media – so they have first-hand access to information that others don’t. Second, because they work with other companies in a particular market, they can tell you the truth about what is working and what is not in that business segment. Furthermore, they can keep you in the know about what other organizations are trying.

Engaging someone like this involves meeting with them several times a year to learn what new and relevant technological developments are out there. Additionally, there should be some kind of “hot Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgialine” to immediately inform you of breaking technology news.

The consultant must be someone who stays fully aware of new technologies that are being developed and how they may impact your entire market. The consultant also acts as a counselor to share what technologies are proven and reliable and which ones have become obsolete.

If you need assistance with how to use technological advances strategically by using a future oriented perspective on new advances, please contact us because we can show you how to do this and avoid being found behind the times with new technology developments.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

April 2016 Newsletter – Differentiate or Die

Differentiate or Die

The handwriting on the wall is clear – if your business does not differentiate itself from its competition you will lose market share and may eventually become extinct!

Virtually every company is increasingly feeling the onslaught from new and existing competitors.

If you are a new business the question you wrestle with is – how can I make my company stand out from ones existing in your marketplace? Alternatively, if have been operating for a while, the challenge is how to keep and grow market share given the attacks from all of your new challengers?

How to Differentiate

The common well-worn ways try to stand out from your rivals are with your price, quality or uniqueness.Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia Obviously using any of these tactics dramatically affects your bottom line and may or may not enable you stand out from the crowd since everyone else may be doing the same thing.

There are many ways to try to separate your firm from the rest of pack. One of less well known ways is with Your Delivery Time or Convenience. That is, do you deliver or provide your product more quickly than your competition? Or are you more convenient to your customer than your competition?

Recently I read that millennials are increasingly becoming fans of wine. This has spawned new businesses. I discovered that two new entities are using Delivery Time or Convenience as their differentiator. The first one caters to the pop-up party market by delivering wine to a business or home within a half-hour of a phone call or an internet order. This organization is using Delivery Time for its uniqueness.

A second company will send you a selection of wine at the intervals you request and you rate the wines as you consume them. This information is transmitted to the company and based upon their expert system they send you wines from across the world that are similar to the ones you prefer. This firm is using Convenience as its distinguisher because you don’t have go to a store to do the research on all the varieties of wine that you might like.

Your Delivery Time or Convenience

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaThis differentiator involves whether or not you deliver or provide your product/service sooner than your competition or dealing with you is more convenient to your customer than dealing with your competition.

The first step to take is to establish whether you have an advantage or a disadvantage with regard to the time it takes from the point an order is placed with your business to the point at which you can reliably deliver your product to your customer.

Secondly, you want to evaluate whether you have an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to how convenient it is for your customer to transact business with you compared to doing business with your competition.

The issue of convenience shows up in two ways. Number one, if your customer comes to your physical location, how convenient is your location to physically get to or if you go to their location, how convenient is it to get to your customer from your location?

Number two, if your business provides its product from a remote location and your customer only interacts with your business via a web site or a telephone number (and therefore they do not have to go to your physical location), how user friendly is your web site or telephone operation?

Keep in mind that if you operate from a remote location, your product’s “quality” does not include the quality of your customer’s shopping experience. The quality of their shopping experience falls into your Delivery Time or Convenience area because it involves how convenient and pleasurable was your customer’s shopping experience?

Delivering or providing your product/service more quickly than your competition or being more convenient are advantageous attributes for every business. But the three industries that are especially driven by delivery time or convenience, making them a key element of their success, are fast food restaurants, dry cleaners, and gas stations.

Utilizing Your Delivery Time or Convenience Strategically

How do you use this knowledge strategically? First, to garner a competitive advantage in this area take a Small Business Planning in Atlantastep back and consider and brainstorm all of the possible steps you could take to deliver or provide your product sooner than your competition? Think outside the box. Look at new technologies. Or re-design your systems to eliminate bottlenecks. Don’t just accept the status-quo as the way it must be. Your rivals are not standing still.

Second, look at things completely from your customer’s point of view. Are you more convenient to your customer than your competition? Next, evaluate all the possible options you can come up with for making you more convenient to deal with. Contemplate using a new business model like Allstate did with Esurance.

If you need assistance with analyzing and improving your Delivery Time or Convenience please contact us because we can show you how to think outside the box in this area so that you can improve your sales, grow your profit and out-smart your competition.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

November 2015 Newsletter – How to Foster Breakthrough Innovation in Your Organization

How to Foster Breakthrough Innovation in Your Organization

According to an insightful study by the executive development firm, Future Workplace, which examined how Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers function together in the work environment, it was found that the area they most desired training in was how to become more innovative. So in reality, the need for stoking the fire of innovation equally cuts across all generations.

Not only is innovation a top goal from the perspective of employees, but according to a PWC Global CEO Pulse Survey, 60% of CEO’s listed Innovation as their company’s #1 priority. While this study looked at large companies, from my experience this desire for innovation is a top objective for business owners and leaders of organizations of all sizes.

Innovation Does Not Just Happen, It Must be Lead

So everyone wants innovation. However, desiring innovation is like being for good government – everyone wants it, but how do you accomplish it?

Likewise, there are tons of innovation axioms like – “the best way to predict the future is to invent it” or “a business only has two functions – marketing and innovation”. But repeating a bunch of pithy sayings doesn’t create an innovative environment.

In reality, if innovation was easy – there would be a ton more Googles, Apples and Amazons.

Steve Jobs hit the nail on the head when he said “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Innovation Leadership

In having worked with over 1,200 companies during the past 17 years, we hSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaave found a key foundation to the entire innovation process is Leadership. But this is not just the standard leadership that it takes to guide an organization. There are three main ingredients to effectively leading and facilitating innovation.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a first main ingredient of getting your entire company to fully embrace innovation. This kind of leadership is what Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt displayed when they communicated their far-sighted agendas that, in turn changed America.

With regards to innovation – transformational leadership conveys, in broad strokes, “this is the hill we are going to take”.

A leader’s primary role is to articulate, sanction, support and promote innovation. That is, to say in words and actions “this is important”. Saying that innovation is important needs to be a theme that is regularly espoused, not just a “one and done” – and this includes sharing success stories.

This is necessary because history has shown that for innovation to be successful, there must be an identifiable leader of it. Innovation initiatives without an identifiable leader do not succeed.

There must be a “face” promoting innovation. Issuing Purpose Statements, marketing collateral and corporate emails just does not work. There must be a cheerleader or champion of innovation at the highest level of an organization for the message to be taken seriously by your personnel.

A good example is 3-M. For decades their leadership has conveyed, in various ways, that innovation is important, crucial, and valued. This commitment is regularly seen with the introduction of new products that have been developed as a result of in-house innovation.

So where do you begin? A good first step is a have an in-person or virtual meeting with all of your staff and share that the world and your environment is changing and changing fast and your organization needs to embrace innovation to thrive in the future.

Empower and Release Your Personnel

Small Business Planning in AtlantaSuccessful innovation requires the commitment of time, money, and effort on behalf of an enterprise. Employees must be empowered both psychologically and with workplace tools necessary to create innovations.

This empowerment includes releasing your personnel to try new and different things – knowing full well that many may come to nothing. Part of this involves creating a safe environment where people know they will not be punished for innovation “failures” or maligned because their efforts came to naught.

Highly innovative organizations are willing to follow-up and follow through on behalf of new ideas. This involves providing sufficient resources to develop new ideas. This encompasses not just birthing the idea but seeing it through to its logical conclusion to determine if it is viable.

SalesForce.com, which is Forbes Magazine #1 rated innovative company, does this by first creating a broad vision for innovation and then empowers and releases their personnel to “figure it out”. They even have a process for empowering and releasing their staff, which is called V2MOM. V2MOM stands for “vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures” that is a mix of philosophies and products.

To put this into practice, examine your workplace environment and determine if you have created a “safe” environment where you are empowering and releasing your personnel to create innovations. If you have not, then take steps to provide the needed changes.

Provide Guidance and Direction

While you don’t want to try to micro manage innovation, you do need to provide guidance and direction toSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia your personnel involved with innovation initiatives at the appropriate times. There are two aspects to this support.

Evaluation of submitted ideas is a key role that leadership should play. In smaller organizations, top management should perform the appraisal themselves. Whereas, in larger companies an entire structure that is capped by one or more executives should be put in place to evaluate and guide the development of ideas and innovations.

The most important aspect of this guidance is that feedback is directly given to the person or team suggesting or developing the innovation. A huge problem in organizations of all sizes is that innovations go into a “black hole”, never to be heard from again. To ensure that ideas and innovations are recorded, their progress is monitored and the necessary resources are supplied to develop the innovation, Innovation Management Software such as Brite Idea Lab can be used to simplify and systematize the innovation process.

The second aspect is for you to act like a scout out in the old west and review and analyze your business landscape regularly. This involves looking at new trends, technologies, government regulations, competition, products, consumer shifts… This critical intelligence is then used to shape and direct your innovation efforts.

A great example of providing guidance and direction to its personnel is Intuit, the creator of Quicken® and QuickBooks®, which has developed an entire system to assist its staff to develop ideas and jump start innovation projects.

Tie Compensation to Innovation

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaAn indicator that this entire area of Innovation Leadership is now getting the attention it deserves is that some organizations are now tying executive and management compensation directly to innovation successes. This ensures that leadership has a vested stake in making sure innovation flourishes within their company.

In summary, to catapult your organization from where it is, to where you want it to go, applying innovation to your entity is key. As we have seen, innovation does not just happen by itself, it must be lead and guided from the top of a company.

So, how can you start down this path? Start by deciding to fully embrace innovation and then determine how to be the face of innovation within your business. Next put the processes in place to empower and release your personnel and provide the guidance and direction they need to develop breakthrough innovations.

If you need assistance with making innovation happen within your organization, please contact us so we can show you how to use this concept to take your business where you want it to go.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

March 2015 Newsletter – The Five Roles of a Leader

The Five Roles of a Leader

A couple of weeks ago I met Paul, a gentle, kind hearted man in his late 50’s at a noisy business networking event. During our conversation he said “I am starting a new business and don’t really know where to start or what it means to lead a company. I have always worked for large companies and someone else did all the leading”.

As we discussed his concerns I could tell that he felt leading a company must be rocket science. The issue of leadership can easily get clouded and muddled. Perhaps you sometimes have felt the same. While there are some things you may do intuitively, you may have asked yourself, this leadership thing seems so complex, am I covering all of the bases involved in leading my business?

But take heart, it is not that complex. There are five main things that must be accomplished by the leader of an entity, namely:

Develop and Cast a Compelling Vision for your Business Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia

You must figure out what you want your business to look like in the future. Your Vision is the destination, the direction of where you want to take your business. This Vision needs to be powerful enough to attract people (your customers, employees, etc.) to it. Once you have identified the Vision for your business you must present (i.e. cast) that Vision to persons whom you want to affect.

Develop a strategy for achieving the Vision for your Business

While it is great to have a dream or Vision for your business, next you must have a plan for accomplishing your Vision. This plan is your strategy. Your strategy must lay out the specific details of how you will go about achieving your Vision. That strategy must address all six areas of your firm. These six areas are:

  • Vision and Leadership
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Production
  • Finance and Administration
  • Human Assets
  • Information Technology

Create the organization to accomplish the Vision

Once you have a Vision for your business, and a plan for achieving it, you need an organization for accomplishing your strategy. This organization is the company, the personnel, the methodologies, the processes, etc. you will need to realize your goals.

Even if you intend to run your business by yourself or plan to have very few employees or contractors, you will still need the methodologies, systems, and financial controls that will allow you to achieve your Vision. These comprise your “organization”. The piece of this step that most people have difficulty with is developing and optimizing their systems. Therefore, you need to focus on developing the best systems you can have.

Oversee the Business’ Operations and Manage it via Metrics

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaNext you need to execute your plan.  Since unfortunately businesses do not run by themselves, you will need to monitor, direct and oversee your business’ operations by the use of administrative controls, financial controls and Metrics.

Do not be baffled by the term “Metrics”.  Metrics are basically just the measurements of whether the systems in your business are on target or off target. In other words, Metrics are the measurements that tell you if your systems are effectively accomplishing your goals.

Innovate your business to differentiate it from its competition

Finally, to stay ahead of your competition and differentiate it in the mind of your customer, you need to apply innovation to your company. But what is innovation? It is simply doing things in a better way. Because nothing is ever perfect, there is always room for improvement. Innovation is the key to this desired improvement.

The world is continually changing, new technologies are being developed and your competitors are always looking for an edge to get ahead of you. Therefore, you must fully embrace innovation and the need for systematic change within your organization. Otherwise, over time your business will become obsolete or redundant.

Once you understand that leadership of your company really boils down to the above five roles, “leadership” becomes much less intimidating. Knowing that all of your tasks within your company should relate to either your Vision, Strategy, Developing an Organization, Managing it via Metrics or Innovation enables you to organize and prioritize your daily activities.

If you need assistance in applying these five principles of leadership to take your business where you want it to go, please feel free to contact us for assistance.

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

Office phone: (770) 642-4220