Diversify The Ideas That Build Your Business

by Linda Feinholz · 0 comments

© 2008 Linda Feinholz

I’m a voracious reader. There have been some years when I read nearly 400 books… and worked full time and slept fewer than 4 hours a night. I love reading.

That was then… And now my body wants more sleep, and my reading has dropped off. So I use my reading time even more focused. 20 percent for pleasure and 80 percent for the joy of new ideas that I can take to my clients.

I don’t usually take the entire book or article for them to read. I extract the core idea, perhaps even a quote, and take it into a discussion to illustrate a new way of thinking about their challenge.

I have favorites that I give to management teams whose companies are facing growth challenges, leadership practices, and marketing. Those include the

  • Harvard Business Review article by Larry Greiner “Evolution & Revolution as organizations grow” (I prefer the original version, not the updated one),
  • Fast Company’s piece called “Measure What Matters”
  • Inc Magazine’s “Cold Fish, Hot Data, New Profis”
  • Fast Company’s “Start With Nothing”
  • And Fortune Magazine’s “Making The Lord’s Copies”

If you get yourself a copy of these, you’ll find the following core ideas:

The changes you make to improve operations, at one stage of your company’s growth, actually create the seeds of the breakdowns that will happen during its next stages. Every time, guaranteed. So never announce a change is ‘final’ or ‘perfect.’ You WILL be eating your words if your business continues to grow.

Your company’s excellence will outpace the competition by the degree to which you get at the heart of what your customer values, rather than what your industry standard tells you to focus on. Base your metrics on what your clients want you to deliver, and tie individual goals for every person in your organization to those metrics.

If you pay attention to the unusual requests made by clients you may find that you have data at your finger tips that customers will actually pay you for. You might find yourself with a highly profitable new product or service with little need to add infrastructure or staff to satisfy the needs for information.

Beware launching that ‘absolutely perfect’ new business concept. Be it product or service, first interview prospective customers for their reactions and ideas. They may suggest a complete redesign or a highly profitable refinement saving you time and expense down the line.

Even the monks have to rethink their business model. Once upon the time they produced and distributed a fluid call ‘wine.’ Today, it’s printer inks. The same controlled manufacturing of fluids. New markets and profit margins.

Those are just for starters. Last week I quoted a Fortune magazine discussion about performance measurement from Coach Campbell’s playbook. He uses a review system that measures four areas:

  1. On-the-job performance
  2. Peer group relationships
  3. Innovation best practices, and
  4. Management & Leadership that develops the people who report to you

I really love when I find ideas in Discover Magazine… Discussions in the world of Science often break through old thinking about systems, relationships, and more.

And I haven’t even started to list my favorite books of the past few years. One of those is Malcolm Gladwell’s fabulous “The Tipping Point.” His explanations of how viruses and fads are spread through the same trigger point has accompanied me into meetings with a luxury desert chef, the VP of marketing of a commodity with a new product to launch, a serial entrepreneur with a real estate concept, and even a regional CPA firm’s head of Audit Services.

One idea – build relationships with people who are connected to a huge pool of relationships – with many applications in many industries from toys to data marketing.

So as I head for my vacation this year, I’ll have my usual stash of magazines from the past couple of weeks to read on the airplane with marking pen in hand. I’ll also have a business book… and two blouse-rippers just for the diversion of it all.

I know that I’ll probably find 30-40 ideas to bring back with me for my teleseminars, coaching clubs, corporate consulting and newsletter articles.

It might be chancy waiting for my next ideas. My suggestion? Subscribe to three periodicals that have nothing to do with your product or industry, keep them in the bathroom next to the toilet or take them with you to read on the gym’s treadmill or bike.

You’ll have your own High Payoff ideas rather than wait for mine.

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