5 big ideas: Powering your business

  • There’s a lot we can all learn from entrepreneurs and organizations working with scarce resources
  • You don’t have to bankroll a massive PR campaign to propel your company into big news stories

5 big ideas: Powering your businessYOUR team is probably fired up about grabbing more market share this year. But if you want to achieve that goal, it’s time to look at your operation through a fresh lens. There are some great ideas brewing in the global community that will help you outdistance your competitors.
One of the most important business concepts of the century is “return on luck” (ROL) which I discussed in my last column. As Jim Collins explains in Great by Choice, all business leaders are being bombarded with both great luck and bad breaks. The smartest CEOs learn not to squander sudden opportunities and figure out how to turn dismal news to their advantage—multiplying the benefits of whatever hand they’re dealt.
Maximizing your “ROL” should be top of your list, every day. But your ROL is just part of the picture. Here are some vital ideas that will help you achieve great results in 2013 and beyond.
Big data

There’s no excuse anymore for not having the latest information about your market at your fingertips. For the first time, even tiny companies can search the vast information on the web that corporate giants use to uncover brand-new opportunities, using inexpensive cloud-based technology.
To feel the power of what big data can do immediately for your business, try SizeUp  (http://www.sizeup.com/). Within seconds, this free site will tell you how many competitors exist in a specific locale, how your revenues stack up against theirs, and where to hunt for new business.
Reverse innovation

It’s time to forget the days when innovation flowed one way—from rich nations to poor ones. There’s a lot we can all learn from entrepreneurs and organizations working with scarce resources, says Dartmouth professor Vijay Govindarajan. He points to a hospital in India that specializes in heart surgeries, achieving better outcomes with its US$2,000 procedures than US hospitals that charge US$20,000 or more.
How does the hospital get such amazing results? By specializing in a niche, it runs more efficiently. For instance, while a general hospital typically needs to buy a vast array of equipment to perform every operation under the sun, this hospital needs equipment only for cardiac operations.
And it gets a great return on its investment in the equipment it does buy, because it puts these tools into service all day long.
Expect to see this idea coming soon to the shores of the United States. Meanwhile, we all need to comb the globe for other ideas from the world’s most resourceful innovators in our industries.

In today’s teeming marketplaces, you need a savvy approach to public relations (PR) to stand out from the crowd. As marketer David Meerman Scott points out in his book Newsjacking, you don’t have to bankroll a massive PR campaign to propel your company into big news stories.
By offering journalists a fresh, interesting perspective on big developments in your industry, you may be able to “hijack” media reports that are in progress and turn their focus to your company. For instance, a reporter who is looking for a colorful way to illustrate a particular trend might welcome an anecdote about your company to put in the lead of his story.
Of course, you’ve got to know what stories reporters are covering at any given moment to do this. To connect with journalists about stories they’ve working on, sign up for Help a Reporter Out, a free crowdsourcing tool.
Reporters from major publications send out alerts each day seeking sources for their stories. I recommend that you monitor HARO daily to see if there are any stories where you can lend your perspective – and get your name into the headlines.
5 big ideas: Powering your businessRobots per capita

I’m fascinated by the ability of this simple metric to predict the prosperity of a country (and a company). It’s a great indicator of a nation’s economic efficiency and potential future growth.
Thus, it didn’t surprise me to learn recently from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers that Germany, with its thriving economy, has double the robots per capita of the United States – Germany has 163 robots for every 10,000 workers, while the United States has only 86, just above Spain.
However, I was surprised that Japan, which has suffered a slow economy for decades, has double the robots per capita of every other country. This may indicate that the country is likely to experience a resurgence.
And countries like Singapore and South Korea are showing sustained economic growth from their already high robot per capita ratios.
It’s a key performance indicator worth considering when looking at your own company.  Are you leading the rest of the competition in dramatically automating your business? 

Verne Harnish is an author, consultant and entrepreneur. He currently writes for Fortune, which is a service of CNN, Fortune and Money. Prior to that he was selected as one of "The Top Ten Minds In Small Business" by the magazine. He also has written for Inc.com.

Previous Installments:
Maximizing your return on luck: The key strategic insight

Strategy: Stay focused and open

Recruiting top talent: A team effort

Recruiting talent: Lessons from unusual approaches

The greatest business decisions of all time

Arm yourself with an advisory board

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