3 Steps to Grow Beyond your Existing Business

Schwab Private Client

Schwab Private Client

I recently spoke with the vice president of marketing at a New England technical firm who stated that his company has an effective process in place to identify and select appropriate business growth opportunities. I was excited to hear this, as I know this is rare. Now a recent McKinsey study confirms this. It found that few companies actually increase their revenues by pursuing growth outside their core business, and uncovered how to overcome this challenge, and uncovered 3 steps to overcome this challenge. Continue reading

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Are you Ready to Scale Up your Business?

Are you ready to scale up by Tom an untrained eye httpswww.flickr.comphotosan_untrained_eyeMeet Jack. He owns a plastics injection molding firm. It serves everybody who wants the product. His business is much the same as his competition. He believes his advantage is customer service. He believes he needs a higher profile. That will help him grow the most.

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Catch the Wave of Innovation in Maine: Start Up & Create Week

Innovation debaoklThere is a movement afoot in Maine – highlighted by Maine’s Start Up and Create Week, this week. Over 75 events. Over 45 panels, workshops, speakers. Countless connections, affiliations, partnerships and new ideas. It is an event fueled by volunteers committed to growing innovative businesses in Maine. Over 20,000 volunteer hours since the beginning of the year.

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Dangerous Gaps: What Information is your Business Missing?

Dangerous Gaps Norman BearSome pieces of information are critical to your business. What information do you need that uncovers potential market sales, brings home the value of your offering, or is the defining stroke for going forward with an opportunity? Without this information, the business suffers.

For some of you, the haunting question will come to mind immediately. Others will need to pull themselves up from the weeds to consider the big picture – what key piece of information is needed? What is missing? What information, if gained, will have the biggest impact on the business? Continue reading

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Are you Considering the Big Questions?

Big Questions Marina del CastellAre you mired in the day-to-day? Getting the sale, customer service issues, invoicing, getting the job done. What brings you out of the trees to the forest? To focus on the key questions that will drive your business forward. What are the big questions?

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5 Steps to a Compelling Vision for your Team

Saipan. One hands is holding a glass sphere and it projects the sky and the clouds at the beach.Sammy Fox wanted to inspire his team, to motivate them, so he settled on the idea of communicating a compelling vision. Yet, when he told them the vision they didn’t really care. It didn’t matter to them. There was no impact. How can you avoid this?

ONE. First of all, your team needs to believe you. Over time, as a leader, you need to foster a climate of trust and credibility with your team. You need to develop a positive relationship with them. An optimistic viewpoint, consistency, fairness, fun, support and demonstrating your knowledge without always having to be right are excellent ingredients for creating this. Continue reading

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Creating a Culture of Innovation

edison liu 2Creativity is fostered, not forced, says Edison Liu, President of Jackson Labs, a leading genetics research facility based in Bar Harbor, Maine. Creating a culture of creativity is like herding cats and requires a special touch, said Liu.

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How to Select the Best Growth Opportunity

ipad  sean MacEnteeWe all struggle with it. We’ve worked hard to gain a plethora of ideas for new products and new markets from our insights, customers, suppliers, employees, the marketing department and now it’s time to choose. The big moment has arrived. What do we do?

Well, hopefully some thought has been put into this before we arrive at this point. There are many things to consider when selecting the new products and opportunities that will propel the most significant growth for your company. Among these include strategic fit, the technical difficulty of implementation, time to revenue, expected revenue, expected profitability and more.

The key lies in selecting the key measures that are most appropriate for your company – and no two companies are exactly the same. For example, some companies’ new products can bring a lot of technical difficulty – other companies have simpler products to launch and it’s the marketing that’s a challenge. Some companies are focused on revenue – others on profit. In addition, each company has its own unique strategies to consider. PCW offers expert advice on selecting the most appropriate measures for your company. Keep in mind, too, that the criteria used can be honed over time.

Once the criteria for new products and opportunities are determined, each opportunity can be assessed based on these criteria. Of course, in the early stages the information will be a rough guide and imperfect. However, the top projects can still rise to the top. These ones need to be researched further, to determine the priority projects to devote resources to. When decisions on the priority projects are being made, it’s a best practice to include experts in each business function – operations, research and development, marketing, finance, regulatory, and any other relevant ones – to be sure all aspects of the project are considered upfront.

Follow these steps and you are on your way to focusing resources on the projects that will yield the most return. Bon voyage!

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Partners Creating Growth works with companies to realize their profitable opportunities. We have considerable experience both launching and commercializing new products as well as connecting to new markets. We offer coaching, strategic planning, market research and financing expertise worldwide to help organizations grow & disadvantaged regions thrive. Email: Tove@PartnersCreatingGrowth.com

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

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See with New Eyes: The Possibilities of the Everyday

Eye ElaineEveryday we see the customers, suppliers, employees and operate within our business environment. It becomes the same old, same old. Yet, within this situation and among the people surrounding us, there are possibilities. Ideas for new business growth.  How do we notice them?

Within the mundane lies marvelous opportunity. A new-found respect for the day-today as well as the thoughts of everyone around us, will help us notice opportunities we missed before. We will observe what is going on around us, listen with new ears, and see with new eyes. Then we just take simple, practical actions that will move us forward. Something many do not do.  For example, Panasonic was the first company to visit customers’ homes in China, finding out the size and orientation of the washers and fridges that would fit in the homes – catapulting sales 5 and 10 fold respectively.

It has to do with attention. Paying attention. Listening to others, especially those you think will not have the ideas you want. Understanding that they can be a special source of originality and insight. Ask questions, to be sure you understood. Probe for more detail, if there is any. Compile the ideas in your list of Opportunities.

Look with your eyes. See the needs that are there, that are not being addressed. Therein lies the gold. It may be a small issue or item. Start with that, if that is what you have. You can build upon it or add it to your list of new opportunity ideas – and then determine the best ones to pursue. Stay tuned for the best ways to evaluate these ideas in one of my future blogs – or feel free to contact me for assistance.

Don’t wait for the skies to open and the big answer to appear. Take small, practical steps toward finding unmet needs and meeting the need, toward realizing the opportunity. It is a process and you will learn as you go.

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Partners Creating Growth are business strategy, market research and financing experts with national and international capabilities. We offer business expertise worldwide to help organizations grow & disadvantaged regions thrive. Email: Tove@PartnersCreatingGrowth.com

Photo credit: Elaine

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How to Innovate to Grow!

How does Innovation Happen - Brilliant FORGEOne Friday, a Google engineer, stymied by a complex problem, posted the details on the ideas board in the hallway at their headquarters. On Friday evening, a few engineers hanging around at headquarters without plans started working on an algorithm to solve the problem posted on the board earlier that day. The issue was solved by Tuesday.

This is the power of the hallway conversation ramped up a few notches, and is a source of ongoing creativity at Google, a company that could easily be too big for innovation. Simply, Susan Wojcicki, Google’s Senior Vice President of Advertising, says she looks everywhere for innovation and ideas.

The key to innovation is new data, new information, according to Cathy Renault, trained in Innovation Engineering. Four categories of new stimulus for new ideas are technology, the market, insights through Voice of the Customer and the future trends. Technology data can come from patents, inventors, vendors and more. Market data is found in benchmarking, borrowing briliance from other industries as well as the tried and true SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.

To develop ideas to grow the business it is important to understand customer needs and unmet needs before developing lots of new ideas. Then the ideas that are developed will focus on solutions that to generate value for customers – the winning ideas.

Stage-Gate International and the Product Development Institute looked at the most effective ideation methods versus the most popular. They found Voice of the Customer (VOC) methods were the five most effective of the 18 studied. However, not all were popular. Ethnography was found to be the most effective, but is not popular, likely as it requires camping out at the customer for extended periods of time, as well as people trained in cultural anthropology. Three other VOC tools are both effective and popular: customer visit teams; customer focus groups for problem detection; lead user analysis, or working with the most innovative customers. The fifth most effective, customer or user aided design, has not caught on in popularity.

The Harvard Business Review, in discussing New Patterns of Innovation, sees three sources of innovation: competency-based, customer-focused, and changes in the business environment. However, it recommends a fourth – creating value for customers using the data and analytic tools available. This can be generating data of use to customers, digitizing assets and more.

In the end, innovation is making connections and even combining opposing ideas. Smashing magazine notes the invention of the Burkini, a combination of the Burga worn by Muslim women and the bathing suit – which is innovative, but not necessarily  spawned from a market need or cultural awareness. To this end, a future blog will discuss how to select the best ideas.

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Partners Creating Growth are business strategy, market research and financing experts with national and international capabilities. We offer business expertise worldwide to help organizations grow & disadvantaged regions thrive. Email: Tove@PartnersCreatingGrowth.com

Photo credit: Brilliant FORGE

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