Business coaches are catalysts. They inspire personal and professional growth in individuals to help businesses achieve their goals. The impact of business consulting firms on organizations cannot be overrated. They change the way executives approach their own responsibilities and how to better motivate the people they manage.But how do you, as a business consulting firm, actively make a meaningful impact? What creative strategies can you use to promote business development, talent management, and change management?It all starts by identifying how personal benefits are linked with business benefits. A dynamic balance between the two provides the context for a creative, strategic, and innovative business relationship. Let’s look at a few of the ways a business consulting firm impacts success:• Commitment: As a business coach, it’s difficult to create commitment out of thin air. Executives have to be open and willing to change in the first place. But you can encourage commitment by inspiring executives to work towards goals that have a meaningful impact on their skills as well as the business’ results. Your work should empower executives to find and use their own creativity and initiative to work and perform in a way that positively impacts the business.• Creativity: It is your job as a business consulting firm to ask a lot of questions, listen to personal and professional challenges, and provide valuable feedback to stimulate executives’ thinking. This is a very creative process that involves pushing them to discover new ideas that are both useful and practical to the success of the business. The real growth happens when executives implement the changes and stand behind their convictions.• Empowerment: Another responsibility you have as a business consulting firm is to empower executives to pursue meaningful goals by using their own creativity and initiative to affect change. Your impact on them (for better or worse) will affect the way their subordinates think and act in a way that benefits the business.• Accountability: Insistence on regular accountability is the cornerstone of an effective business consulting firm. Commitment, creativity, and empowerment are all important, but unless individuals are effectively directed they may not achieve the desired results. Accountability involves goal-setting, questioning, listening, providing feedback, pointing out how actions affect outcomes, and other areas that affect business success.• Performance: Performance is, of course, the ultimate measure of success. Effective business coaching balances empowering executives with new ideas and measuring the results of their actions. Your biggest impact on performance is your ability to be decisive, be bold, be clear, and be the one person they can turn to for an objective viewpoint.Business coaching is a vital part of taking executives and their companies to a higher level. As a business consulting firm you have the unique opportunity to help affect that change. Learn more about becoming a better coach by visiting http://www.ThinkBlueThinking.com or calling 619.550.8052.
Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new business ideas. When we plan to launch a new business, we either leverage an existing concept or we develop our own unique idea. The same applies to growing an existing business. I have always struggled with determining which is harder – finding the idea or executing on it.Sometimes ideas are easy enough to conjure, and the hard part is deciding if it’s good enough as the basis for developing a profitable business. If you have what you believe is a “great idea”, the next challenge is to prove or test that it will translate into a successful venture.Then there are times when a viable idea is the hardest thing to find. It may seem like all the good ideas are taken, and you are left on the sidelines with the resources and desire to start or grow a business but without a great idea. The ideation process can take a day or it can take years, and as with the creative process, it’s usually unproductive to rush it. Aside from the other typical barriers of resources (money and people), the lack of a “good idea” is often what keeps people from taking action on their dream of becoming their own boss.Creating a new business starts with the idea. The process of developing that idea, and your business concept, may perhaps include some level of testing through prototyping and iteration. During these early phases your idea will undoubtedly evolve and may even morph into something entirely different. There are three basic categories for business ideas, and considering these categories can help with sparking that next great brainchild or validating your existing one:
New – a new invention or business idea. Examples may include the Segway, Virtual Reality and other product inventions. This is the most difficult category for new business ideas. There are very few truly and completely new ideas. By “new” I mean something that absolutely does not currently nor in the past exist in any way. It’s easy to confuse a new idea with what is really an improvement or disruption of an existing or traditional way of doing something. Truly new and unique ideas are hard to come by, so don’t get paralyzed by thinking this is the only source of viable new ideas.
Improvement – this is the proverbial better mouse trap. Examples include exterior-express car washes (where you stay in the car), Virgin Airlines, LED lighting, and Disney Land. Most small businesses probably fall into this category. You take an existing service or product and you make or deliver it in a better way, either directly or indirectly. You may make it of better quality raw materials, for example, or you may add value to the product or service by including additional services or add-ons.
Disruption – a new and revolutionary way of doing something. Examples include Uber, AirBnB, and Amazon. Our modern interconnected world – supported and made possible by the internet – now allows us to completely reinvent, transform and disrupt entire industries. The internet and other technologies are not the only way to execute on a disruptive business idea, but it has certainly accelerated our ability to do so.
Where do great ideas come from? Sources of ideas can include reading, podcasts, art, architecture, personal experiences, travel, conversations, hobbies, borrowing from others, crowd creativity, crowd sourcing, and attempting to solve existing problems in our world. For existing businesses, the best source of ideas is usually your customers. Yet it takes a bit more than just experiencing or reading something to spark your next great idea.In the article “How to Generate Good Ideas” by Belle Cooper, Steve Jobs is quoted as sharing that creative people are able to “connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” In his observation, creative people consistently have “had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”Consciously and objectively experiencing new things will definitely influence and feed your creative abilities, and it’s one of the most productive ways we can continue to develop our ability to generate great ideas.Does this mean that you have to be creative to generate good business ideas? I believe creativity is certainly one of the main ingredients required for ideation, along with ingenuity and vision. The challenge for many people, however, is that they either have little confidence in their inherent creative abilities or don’t have the courage to express and tap into it. The idea generation process is much like the creative process in that we are putting forth something personal to be judged by others. You must have the courage and confidence to submit ideas that others might think are frivolous or ridiculous. It’s appropriate to remember what George Bernard Shaw wrote: “all great truths begin as blasphemies.”The ideal process is to identify one or more business ideas, test them, and then continue with developing the idea that has the best possibility for success. Of course, always remember that the true test of an idea’s business viability ultimately rests entirely with the customer. Also remember that if your concept was easy, it would probably have already been done by someone else.Some questions to ask yourself to help qualify your business idea:
What need does my product or service fill? What problem does it solve
What are the features and benefits of my offering?
What is my competitive advantage? What makes this idea truly unique in my market?
How do my skills and experience fit with my idea?
How will I be able to test and demonstrate it?
What resources will I need to build this idea into a viable business?
Does my idea solve a billion-person problem, or the problem of just a few?
Can I envision myself executing on this concept for the next 5 to 10 years?
Is a Franchise the Right Business Decision for You?Most of us who spent years in the corporate world have seen or experienced the ‘right-sizing’ of the company that they worked for. Over the last 10 years, it was no longer enough to be doing a good job to ensure that you continued your employment with the corporation; you could just be in the wrong department, division, or team when the business leaders and financial analysts executed their right-sizing strategies.If this sounds familiar to you, you may know of someone who after leaving the corporate world has decided that they wanted to have a business of their own. The first thing most people think of when they start investigating having their own business, is of becoming a franchisee of a well known brand. There are definite advantages to doing this.Aside from having an easily recognizable name, most franchisors will assist you with financing, marketing, store location selection, equipment, supplier purchasing contracts, and POS systems. For someone looking for backend support of their business, these things can be important.There are drawbacks to going the franchise route though.What if you want to select the products that you offer? If you are a creative individual, you may want to create some of your own, unique products or recipes. What if you want to decide not only what you sell, but what hours you are open, what POS system you want to use? What if the marketing offered by the franchisor is too generic or keyed to a specific geographic region not applicable to you? What if you have a preference for the type of hardware, computer system, store layout, or equipment to be utilized? In most cases, as a franchisee you cannot use your own judgement regarding any of these elements. In most cases, you are required to follow the franchisor’s direction and use his sources for everything.Perhaps most important, franchisors almost always charge a percentage of your gross revenue as a monthly royalty. The harder you work, the more money they keep. According to recent research by Kelly K. Spors and Kevin Salwen, “Some franchisors simply require their franchisees to pay so much in royalties and fees or other operational costs, that it’s very difficult to be profitable. Beyond that, when a franchisee fails, a franchisor may make it extremely difficult and costly to get out of its contract.”But isn’t it true that a franchise is more successful than an independent business?
A study by a researcher at Wayne State University found that 62% of franchises were open for business after four years, compared with 68% of independent businesses. And franchises were also found to be less profitable in those early years.Becoming a franchisee can be a wise business decision for some. For others, trusting their own business sense and creativity can lead them to the decision to open their own independent business.