“What If?” What if your company could blow away the competition in your category? What if you could stand out so distinctly, that there was no competition? What if customers were flocking to you?
The key to creating a stand out business is to choose one thing, one area, to excel at. Everything else you do, you need to do as well as your competitors. You don’t need to be the best at everything, but if you can be ten times better than your competition in one thing that your customers care about, then you will come out on top.
In the Pumpkin Plan Action Guide, we call that one thing “Area of Innovation” or “AOI.” It is the one area where you will concentrate your efforts to come up with new and better ways to perform and deliver. Your AOI can be about price, convenience, or a specific quality in your business.
For example, if your AOI is price, you could find ways to be the lowest price, but you could also be the highest price. Starbucks is a good example of a company that took a traditionally low priced offering, coffee, and created a high priced experience around it. Ebay is another company that innovated around price, by creating a site where customers could bid for items to try to get the best price.
Amazon is an example of a company whose Area of Innovation is Convenience. Over and over again, they have come up with new, more convenient ways to deliver their products. Think Kindle, which revolutionized the way people receive and read books. And “One Click,” which allows customers to make a purchase without going through a shopping cart sequence. Just click the “buy” button and you’re done. Genius! And oh, so convenient.
At this point you may be saying to yourself, we’re not Amazon or Starbucks or Ebay. We’re a small business with few resources. How can we possibly develop an AOI where we are ten times beyond the competition?
The key to creating an Area of Innovation is to ask yourself, and your staff, “what if?” Just think, if no one had ever asked the question, “what if we could fly to the moon?” then we would not have astronauts in outer space today.
Try doing a brainstorm with your team. Come up with the area you think you can excel at, and then ask some outrageous “what if” questions. The crazier the better. Not because you will necessarily end up pursuing the craziest ideas, but it gets the creative juices flowing, and helps you to start thinking outside the box. After all, what if you come up with the next big idea in your industry?