For a business to survive, not to mention prosper, constant tinkering and innovation are required. The status quo can be a death knell for companies lulled into complacency about serving their customers as they always have, without introducing new twists or bolt-on innovations. Every organization should be a bit paranoid that a challenger could be lurking down the street or around the corner and working on displacing a company’s entrenched offering.
Where can you find new ideas to ward off encroachment and continue to build a sustainable company? A Victorian-era mantra for brides provides unlikely yet meaningful suggestions. This perennial rhyme, intended to bring a newlywed good fortune, can also give possibilities to companies looking for new ideas: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
Let’s look at this often-recited adage to spark avenues to explore. There can be inherent value in the “old,” and you do not have to reinvent the wheel to jumpstart your business. All wheels, like companies, however, must be periodically aligned and balanced for optimum performance. This translates into looking at something you have that is a bit “long in the tooth” but still working well and could be made even better today. Products from telephones to computers, from automobiles to TVs, are typically updated annually. New whistles and bells make previous models obsolete and increase demand from those who want the latest and greatest. The same can be applied to virtually every organization’s products or services. Start with what you do best and make it better.
That something “new” from this column’s headline can transform a business from a follower to a leader, from an old reliable performer to a cutting-edge innovator. Examine your business under a different microscope, assess what you currently have, and then tinker with add-on products and services that complement your core offerings. Ponder other combinations that go together, such as these oversimplified examples of peanut butter and jelly, or pencil and paper, because sometimes it’s just not all that complicated. Your business should also explore new, perhaps more elusive, additions that logically go together.
Next, “borrowing” from others is proven as an old business method that has helped propel many an organization to new heights. Look for what someone else does well and figure out how to invigorate and improve upon it. Then repackage it to be unique and to stand out from that same-old standby already on the market. Using a company’s brand equity and reputation for quality provides a solid foundation for launching something better, even if you didn’t invent it. There are many benefits to letting the pioneer do all the initial heavy lifting and then one up ‘em.
This brings us to the fourth element that suggests something “blue.” This hue is a reminder that igniting or rejuvenating a business should not be an out-of-the-blue event but rather an ongoing process indelibly etched in every good company’s DNA.
Business solutions are much like rhymes and riddles — at first, they don’t make sense, but when studied in a different light, they usually reveal valuable answers.
Visit Michael Feuer’s website www.TipsFromTheTop.info to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”