Grow your business (but never lose the startup mentality)

Here’s what we know for sure. As any business starts to have success, it grows. And the bigger it gets, the more people are brought in. More people = more bureaucracy, more meetings, more layers, more rules, a slowdown in movement and, well, a marked increase in B.S. If you’re not careful, this all drives you further away from the passion and kick ass mentality that was fueling your success in the first place. So how to avoid this?

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Avoid the complacency that comes with growth with a DISTINCT (NOT EMPTY) COMMITMENT to preserving a start up mentality (even if you are not a startup). What does this mean?
This means committing to (and expecting) a push for innovation in areas beyond just your core product or service. As you grow, your organization’s DNA needs to push to find innovation and efficiencies in every facet…day to day operations, logistics, processes, accounting, IT, sales, etc., etc. This is just as important as core product innovation. So push for it. Expect it. In every nook and cranny of the organization.
This means genuinely encouraging people to question the status quo. Allow people to question processes if…but only if…they have a take on how to make things better…or a passion to find a solution.
This means making sure everyone (not just key people) has a constant touch with the outside world…with customers, constituents and what’s actually going on in the world. An out of touch team leads to an out of touch business.
This means eliminating unnecessary meetings (but keeping key collaboration and communication)
This means keeping teams small and nimble and then staying out of their way.

In support of the above, this ultimately means carving out time for people to actually think and learn and act. As in a startup, people must be allowed uninterrupted blocks of time to formulate new ideas and approaches that make the organization better and more efficient. This increases individual job satisfaction, drives collective morale and ultimately helps the business continue to thrive. In other words, you can grow the entity out of startup mode, but never, ever take the startup mentality out of the entity.

About the author: Eric Greene is a principal at Elevation (it’s different up here). Elevation is an innovation firm that specializes in A-Z new product/service/growth strategy development (including guerrilla research, opportunity I.D., brainstorming, concept development, industrial design, prototyping and engineering). To learn more, go to: http://elevationid.com/

Which comes first – the target or the product?

Should you come up with your new technology, product or service first and then retrofit it to a target? Or vice versa? Like the chicken and the egg, that is the question. So what’s the answer?

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While the answer may seem fuzzy (sorry – baby chick pun), this much we know for sure:
• All too often, organizations and entrepreneurs come up with something…a seed…a concept…a technology…a business…whatever. It seems cool, so they launch it and then try to find an audience for it, banking on the notion that the proper customer set will emerge. But way too often this doesn’t fly (come to think of it, chickens aren’t real good flyers either).
• And then there’s targets themselves. Each target flock (okay, enough with the bird references) has different needs, different problems, talks in different lingo, has a different set of urgency, different emotional needs and a different time frame. Not to mention a different amount of money they’re willing to spend.

So, here’s an idea to incubate: given the above, the smart play is to pick and understand your target first and then create your product SPECIFICALLY FOR THOSE PEOPLE. Catering to exact needs, speaking in just the right language, etc. will create more spark, resonate more strongly and ultimately increase your odds of success.

About the author: Eric Greene is a principal at Elevation (it’s different up here). Elevation is an innovation firm that specializes in A-Z new product/service/growth strategy development (including guerrilla research, opportunity I.D., brainstorming, concept development, industrial design, prototyping and engineering). To learn more, go to: http://elevationid.com/

 

Need to rethink? Head to Monkey Town.

If you’re feeling the urge to rethink any aspect of your business model, product or service, you should head to Monkey Town (http://www.monkeytown4.com/). Monkey Town is dinner-tainment (my word, not theirs) re-imagined for the electronic age, complete with cutting edge modernist cuisine, computer-generated animation, multichannel video and other software-centered art. It’s a moving venue that started in NYC and that now relocates itself approximately every 3 months into different vacant warehouse space in a different city before moving on again – bringing world class chefs and virtual artists along for the ride. In doing so, it reveals a lot about rethinking our own business models, creating intrigue and demand. How so?

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Monkey Town is all about re-thinking the status quo and creating output unique enough to stand apart, yet scarce enough to stimulate its own demand (it’s here…and then it’s gone. It’s cool…everyone’s buzzing about it…but you better get in on it while you can).

If your business (or product or service) needs to reinvent or stimulate new demand in any aspect, there’s a powerful technique you can us to RETHINK in much the same way. It’s called the Great What If Game, and it works like this:
1. Generate a truly random “What If” list approximately 30-40 items long, as in what if we: make it more modern, make it more colorful, add an element of mystery, make it more digital, make it more mobile, make it fit a narrower target, make it cooler, make it simpler, re-position it, add features, make it more swank, create value add, etc., etc., etc.
2. Then, simply apply the list to your situation in order to re-think everything.

In the case of Monkey Town, such re imagining of the status quo (breaking rules along the way) might yield just such results as described above. The question is: are there any elements of your own business model that could use similar re-thought? If there are, define your own status quo – and then make a monkey out of it.

About the authors: Eric Greene & Keith Poulson are principals at Elevation (it’s different up here). We are an innovation firm that specializes in A-Z new product/service/growth strategy development (including guerrilla research, opportunity I.D., brainstorming, concept development, industrial design, prototyping and engineering). To learn more, go to: http://elevationid.com/