Hiding In Plain Sight – What Innovative Ideas Already Exist in Your Business?
Guest Author Erica Wolfe-Murray is one of the UK’s leading business and innovation experts. She is also the founder of Lola Media.
We have all seen the health and wellbeing sector explode over the last few years. New players are coming in to the market from all directions. One touts the latest tech, some harness DNA applications, others spot an emergent trend. It’s breath-taking just trying to keep up. But where does this leave a small business offering a deeply personal one-to-one service? How can you participate in this expanding marketplace when you are already foot to the floor? You could be in fitness/personal training, or have a unique luxury beauty service, or you are a consultant to an elite sports event… What can you do?
I get approached time and time again by small companies, both start-ups and existing ventures, wanting to ensure they are not left behind or out-manoeuvred, and to identify opportunities and threats to their businesses and find new revenues in unexpected ways. The key to it is to really understand the unique aspects within your business. We use a simple tool to unlock these…
People pay for only five things…
- a product (a pair of shoes, face cream etc.)
- a service
- intel/data (behaviours)
- customers/clients (access)
However to produce a product, or supply a service, you also have to understand behaviours (intel/data); you have to be knowledgeable about what you are doing and have customers to sell to. So although you may think you are only selling one of the above things, you are actually drawing on several of the other categories too. By unpacking each category in greater depth, you will be able to see where there could be golden opportunities to develop new revenue streams for your business. And there are always exciting things to be found…
Start by putting the category that generates most of your income in a column on the left-hand side of a page. Now list the other four categories at the top of four columns ranging across the page. Under that first column list what it is you actually sell. In all the further columns break down what actual knowledge/service etc you use to ensure that sale of yours happens.
I worked with a small studio, Barreworks, in Richmond, London. The owner sells a specialised service, barre tuition, to residents of Richmond, Twickenham and St Margarets. In developing her business, we did the above exercise. ‘Barre classes’ went under ‘Service’ in the left-hand column. As we unpacked all the different aspects that this involved across the remaining four columns, we discovered she had immense amounts of ‘Knowledge’ under that heading, including the Lotte Berk method and teacher training. Under ‘Customer/clients’ she had also noted ‘elite/Olympic level athletes’, and under ‘Intel/Data’, she identified that some participants were referred to classes by local physios. Once you have really extracted as much data as you can from your key offer, stand back and take a long cool look at it. It should have unearthed some new areas that you could use to drive new revenues.
Barreworks identified a wide range of new opportunities, some offered quick wins, whereas others involved planning three years ahead. The studio gained accreditation for its teaching methodology and now offers teacher training to other high level barre professionals. It has an elite athlete programme, caters for new market sectors it had not previously identified and also has worked with an Olympic-level physio to offer a ‘Barreworks for Rehab’ programme, with further new ideas in the pipeline.
In this fast-growing health and wellbeing sector, even if your business is small, working with just a handful of premium clients, there are still incredibly diverse and interesting ways you can add new revenue streams. You just have to unpack your business to see what other ways you can innovate from what you already do, sell, know and understand. It’s all there hiding in plain sight…