Riddell: More money is just one good idea away
Not Business as Usual
Despite the inherent and necessary optimism of most small business owners, the reality is that many are continuing to struggle mightily. When you discuss just what steps they have taken and what are their upcoming plans, a very consistent yet worrisome element creeps into the conversational awareness.
Speak to any small business owner and he or she will be able to give you a detailed and long list of all the expense saving and cash conserving steps they have taken. From personnel reductions to cuts in personal income to tighter inventory control to more attention on getting paid—all these are traditional textbook steps that every entrepreneur/small business can pursue. Indeed, if you talk with business consultants or academic advisors, these steps and a myriad of others are tried and true remedies for dealing with the issue at hand. The real problem is that these steps, by themselves, are simply not enough in this present business climate. The previously mentioned worrisome element that must be addressed is the inability to increase revenues.
Many small business entrepreneurs are well versed in the mechanics of selling and marketing. They intuitively understand that the more qualified leads that you generate, all things being equal, the more sales should follow. The root problem here is what magic potion or special offer or prayer is going to generate these critical qualified leads? This solution, unlike the mechanics of expense reduction, is unknown.
This is an opportunity for successful small business owners/managers to separate themselves from their peers. As necessity is the mother of invention, desperation can be the father of creativity. Either of both works, but it requires two very important insights for success.
The first is a clear picture of a desired outcome with any associated connecting of the dots of cause and effect. This is simply making sure that the steps being taken are in direct support of the goal being pursued. The second is the discipline to design and implement a framework of metrics to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of any initiative. No matter how good you might think an idea is, if it isn’t generating what you want, you can’t afford to keep pursuing it.
When you talk to successful entrepreneurs you immediately notice that they are the walking-talking embodiment of the maxim that there is no such thing as a bad idea. These folks intrinsically know that their success is rooted in their ability to come up with more good ideas than their competition and they are not parochial in their regard to sources. Consequently, their openness, receptivity, and general enthusiasm for new thoughts and ideas separate them from their dispirited counterparts who always look to last month and never to next week.
Idea generating “get togethers” can be a very cost-effective process for every small business trying to survive. Basically this is just a gathering of a few creative people who are given a one-page summary of the business and the associated market with a request for ideas to drive sales. Whether you use pizza to entice participation or a systematic process of a group all helping each other, the goal is quantity of ideas.
I’m often reminded of that old cartoon of a kid selling lemonade for $10,000 a glass. A well-dressed businessman, a banker no doubt, cautions the youngster that she probably won’t sell a lot of lemonade at that price. To which the kid responds, “Thank you, sir, but I only need to sell one glass!” You only need one good idea to get that revenue picture turned around.
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