I’m sure most of your heard the story of Art Fry who invented the “Post-it Note” in 1980. He took an unsuccessful adhesive designed by 3M’s Dr Spencer Silver in 1968 and used it to post little notes in his hymn book. He took an arguably failed concept and turned it into a household word. You wonder if Mr. Fry got a message from God in using this product; Definitely an epiphany.
How a U.S. Factory Survived the Recession by Susan Kuchinshas report interviewed Essential Sealing Products. Essential survived the great recession and foreign competition by innovating. There are some points to consider when innovating:
- Focus on your customer’s needs: As a CPA, my industry must continue to evolve. Long-gone are the days when tax and monthly financial statements absorbed most of our time. Clients need more in running their businesses.
- Look at your own supply chain, not just the customer relationship: In the article, Essential eliminated vendors that could not keep up with their schedule or quality. The customer demanded more, and so did Essential. As in a CPA case, we push any professional alliances we have to provide quality service as we do. If they can’t, our clients are not happy, and we can’t use them.
- Thin out your Customers: I remember working for an entertainment business management firm in 1988. They retained a client that required a lot of work but was past his prime earning capacity. He could not pay for the level of service that he demanded from the firm. The owner of the firm felt obligated to this client because he had referred other clients over 10 years prior. I truly believe in loyalty, but even that has a limit in any company, especially a labor intensive CPA firm.
- Apply Strategic Planning Concepts to Your Company: There are many, many books that can help you design a strategic plan: Blue Ocean Strategy, Good to Great, Built to Last, The Innovator’s Dilemma, just to name a few. Read and implement their concepts, or find someone who could.
As a CPA firm, we see many new start-ups. When they present a concept to me asking for a business plan or strategic plan, I usually as one question about their venture. “So what?” I ask them what makes them different from anyone else. If all they can say is the price or service, I tell them to innovate more. CPAs see lots of these vanilla types of companies but have a unique viewpoint as to how they work. At, least CPAs who know strategic planning.
Don’t ask your CPA to compute an ROI or an IRR without knowing where you are going. It is a waste of your money and time. Maybe God will speak to you from a hymn book about not permanently sticking to the pages.