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Caveman Design....Evolving your products and services

This weekend I was on a working vacation on the great island of Jamaica. I was on the island with a client who was testing a new version of his security product at an outdoor concert venue in Montego Bay. As I soaked up the beautiful rays of sunshine and the island culture, I watched on as one of my closest clients' (Turnkey Security/Productions) tested and successfully accomplished an evolution in their product / service design.

This same time last year I was at another venue where my client was introducing the very first version of their gate security system. It has been one year and Turnkey has successfully re-conceptualized and designed an incredibly remarkable new version of their original product. The strides that this company has made in one year makes me think about how crucial constant growth and evolution can be to the nature of business.

In order to be successful in today's business climate, a company must constantly monitor the stages of growth that their product or service are going through. In the case of Turnkey, they recognized that although their product was highly effective and secure last year, they needed to keep ahead of the times by creating a new version which would elevate them to a front running position in the event / venue security market. Most businesses have quarterly meetings to asses that state of their company's operations; if you are not having these meetings you should be. However, in order to truly stay ahead of trends and consistently monitor your operation in terms of productive efficiency you must constantly hold meetings on how you can completely change the way your business runs for the better. While most of these meetings will end in some small changes in different areas of the company that could be tweaked, these meetings create an environment for open conversation on potential new directions.

Too often, in large corporations, the board of directors and executive committee heads do not want to venture into conceptualizing on new directions for their respective departments because they have a fear of failure. In fact some companies claim to foster innovation within their organizations; however the rewards they offer for innovation and creativity are colored badges and a pat on the back. These companies completely shoot themselves in the foot by not creating an environment where their employees can be free to comment on new directions or thoughts about their daily processes; nor do they feel they are being rewarded for their intellectual contributions or allowed to be heard. This means that the company never evolves equivalently to its potential.

When a small business approaches its end of the year number crunching and operational assessment, small business owners tend to place a much higher value on re-investigating the methods and processes they used throughout the year. They do this in order to assess where their company could have made more money through new or more efficient operations. Unfortunately, a lot of small business owners take the stance that they should completely scrap or change directions entirely in order to make more money. I recently visited a restaurant that I enjoy very much, however I had not been in that area in quite some time; almost a year. When I entered the restaurant the ambiance was different, I did remember the waitress, but there were a lot of new changes to the building. I started to order my usual dish when the waitress stopped me and told me that they didn't carry that item anymore (chicken marsala), although I was disappointed I continued to order the second dish that I would usually have, when the waitress responded with the same reply.

At this point I began to open up the menu and look at what they had changed, discovering that the entire menu was different. It was now geared toward a more fast food approach with an upbeat fast paced setting. I proceeded to order a cheese burger, and it was very good, however, I was very disappointed when I left the restaurant because I did not get to enjoy the meal I had been looking forward to. Sometime later that day, while I was at a gas station, I asked the attendant if he had been to the restaurant lately, and he said 'No I haven't actually. You know, a Fridays moved in down the road from them, and since they changed their menu and the environment over there to compete with Friday's it just hasn't been the same!' Now I realized why I had the same experience, the customer base for that restaurant was not the same clientele that wanted to go to Friday's. So, while they had thought that completely renovating their whole business would be the right solution, it ended up driving away their target customer base.

While sometimes a complete renovation of your business can be the solution; at other times you may need to alter your approach in order to achieve impressive results that utilize your company's' potential for growth and change. Look at these examples above, where both organizations fell on the extreme ends of the issues; one did not want to foster any changes within their organization and the other wanted to change everything about it.

Now, let's look at Turnkey Security and their approach to their operation. A year ago they produced a product that was successful in trials and ready for market distribution. Throughout the year they had good success with this product and its usage, however they felt internally that they could do more with their idea by expanding on its practical use and application at each venue. I know from our consultation meetings that there were many discussions about scrapping their product and going in a new direction, as well as not doing anything about it at all due to the new costs they would acquire. However, after careful discussion and thought over a short but extended time period, they carefully reengineered their design and the result was fantastic.

The point of this article is to spark your thoughts on constant creation and evolution. You can utilize these thoughts when approaching your financial dealing, as well as labor relations. All aspects of business require a fresh approach at certain points in time in order to assess the potential for change and growth they possess. When you decide to start looking at your current and past year's operations, remember the examples mentioned above, and always keep an open mind about new directions and the possibilities it may bring.

About the Author
Mr. Hoback is founder and president of Motivated Entrepreneur Business Incubation & Consultants

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