How to Keep your Business Ahead

Your big idea, that you’ve invested so much time, energy and funding in, is beginning to pay off. You’ve spotted a gap in the market, and with your courage, expertise and perhaps some good luck, your product or service is being noticed and you are generating some return on your hard earned investment. You are beginning to reap the rewards of your hard work, and enjoy success. It’s tempting to rest on your laurels, perhaps dream about that long awaited sun-soaked beach holiday on a Caribbean Island… think again!

Before you go on that long awaited break, planning your next business moves, first maybe the most important decision you’ll need to make to ensure your long term business ambitions. The household brands we’ve all heard of and use, give themselves two to three months before they see their innovations copied and being sold worldwide. Any good idea is very difficult to trademark, copyright or patent these days and so your unique standing in the market place needs an extra layer of protection. This comes from your next competitive move, your next relevant creative and practical step to lead and keep your head above the rest. This does not necessarily mean expensive new products or services all the time, rather it is thinking in the end user’s shoes of how they might now further benefit from and enjoy your ideas.  Building a loyal client base, keeping their interest and ensuring they continue to buy your product or service.

Horizontal S

Leo Reynolds / / CC BY-NC-SA
Leo Reynolds / / CC BY-NC-SA

If you are anything like me, for all the theory on this topic, and there will be lots of words in business management books, when I looked at the picture of a ‘horizontal S’, it made me realise just how important it was to be thinking ahead beyond the current success I was experiencing. So if you glance at the picture attached to this blog, imagine the first downward sweep of the ‘horizontal S’ representing the amount of time, energy and finance you are sinking into your idea. You are yet to see any return on your investment, having launched your considered, well-researched (hopefully) and tested plan. Your marketing around the plan begins to attract attention and you receive your first tentative enquiries. Customers buy into your concept and you are on an upward trajectory represented by the upward sloping line on the ‘horizontal S’. It is at this point of this upward line, that you need to think of your next steps, because now your idea is out there in the public domain, how are you going to keep ahead of your competitors?

Before your first idea is copied, i.e. you start going over the curve and the downward trajectory on the ‘horizontal S’, you need to have an innovative response which is now attracting attention to keep your competitive advantage and enable you to continue to enjoy success, i.e.  the journey on a new upward trend. So if your first product’s life is coming towards an end, the income from your next idea is beginning to replace the dwindling returns of the first, and so on. You are maintaining a decent level of income, rather than peaks and troughs in revenue generation and expenditure. The gap between one idea and another is reduced or eliminated, so you experience less fear of poor cash flow levels and can benefit from greater financial cushioning.

Focus on the future

If you are a fan of Dragons Den or follow entrepreneurial behaviour, successful businesses are focused always on the future, looking forwards to see how they can improve their market share, developing new ideas. There are examples all around us. The so-called death of the high street is arguably because shopkeepers have not looked beyond their original success – they’ve tipped over the curve of the ’horizontal S’ without coming up with an innovative answer to the ending of the life to their previous idea. What happens when people like Mary Portas turn up?  She looks at how to reinvigorate and adapt. She looks at new trends and then how to incorporate that into a new package which is marketed as a unique and special experience. Takes what is a good, dumps what doesn’t work and moves on with fresh and innovative ideas. When the idea catches on, others follow and copy.

The constant quest to improve; exploiting  gaps in the market, looking at reducing expensive impacts on the environment and on the pocket, getting the message across that supports good honest ideas for good honest reasons  are essential for business survival. Successful businesses are constantly re-inventing themselves and these are the ones to emulate for long term success.

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