Recognising Problems as Opportunities for Innovation and Going Global
Today’s global economy is providing small, mid-tier companies with the opportunity to become global players like never before. Once the CEO’s of these smaller firms are able to identify where their opportunity exists, the path to globalisation can become a reality.
Mid-Tier Companies Have Something in Common
Mid-tier companies (turnover greater than $5M and less than $100M) that are able to successfully become global players often have something in common: they find an opportunity to be innovative. This innovation can have a profound impact on the future direction of the business and is often rooted in the identification of a problem experienced by customers or feedback of frustrations experienced by customers.
Some businesses will fail to recognise that these “problems” can mean opportunities for innovation. The businesses that see problems as opportunities and take steps to identify how solutions may be developed can turn simple solutions into powerful building blocks to then expand globally.
As an example, a mid-tier business in the construction industry thought that the way a certain process was being done in the industry was extremely inefficient and costly. Without specific engineering qualifications, the owner sat down and thought about how this could be done better. They designed a piece of equipment that saved construction companies tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs. The product was released nationally and is now under license to a number of countries and creating income streams far greater than their original business would ever have grown to.
Steps in Identifying Opportunities and Validating The Viability of an Idea
There are some basic steps that any mid-tier company can take to identify opportunities and to then validate or invalidate the commercial viability of an idea:
- Talk to your customers about their frustrations, challenges and where they would like to see improvement. Don’t just ask questions, as often customers don’t know what they want! Instead, observe behaviour and look for elements in the customer journey that make their experience cumbersome or less enjoyable
- Understand the Bases of Competition – by this we mean the elements of what customers want, need and value to the point that they are willing to pay for it. Standard bases of competition could be price, service or accessibility. To understand the bases of competition at an even deeper level, Advivo ICP engages specialist data scientists who can source a complete list of the Bases of Competition and then provide a statistical representation of which bases affect the majority of the market. This gives you an enormous competitive advantage in knowing all the factors that impact on customer’s decision making and which ones will influence the majority of the market
- Define the market opportunity through research and testing. If your idea is something that is desired by your customers, there is a strong chance that others around the globe also have a need for the solution. Estimating the market size, how you could distribute (is it a technology, a physical product, a design or process?) the solution. Developing a plan to commercialisation is critical at this point
- Develop a roadmap of the commercialisation process. This will include steps to protect intellectual property, to develop the product/technology/process through a lean start-up methodology. Setting up early adopters to test your concept, thinking about brands and how to market your idea and deciding how to fund the project are other important considerations.
- Build your business case. Based on the potential market size, anticipated sales values and revenue estimates, how does the conceptual idea stack up? Does the cost of development, the risk, the time etc. warrant the progression of the idea to become a fully-fledged project?
Think Big, Be Small
We are seeing mid-tier firms identify all sorts of opportunities from problems and frustrations that they see every day in going about their business. Understand that there are many business models that are available to you; it doesn’t necessarily result in you having to set up offices in 150 plus countries. In fact, there are so many business networks and global forums where you can connect with people from all over the world who are keen to seek opportunities. The main point is this: just because we talk about global markets doesn’t mean you have to become a corporation of hundreds of people. I certainly know of quite a few businesses with less than ten people who turnover millions of dollars in exports. Think big, be small!
However, before you rush ahead, be sure to speak to professionals who know and understand the pitfalls of global expansion. We do not say this to demotivate you from searching for global ideas in the first place, far from it. We say this as there are very specific frameworks, business models and methods of approaching and creating global opportunities that work. And where you believe you have developed an innovation that has global potential, then it is vital that you surround yourself with experienced experts. Contact us at Advivo on 07 3226 1800 or send us a message using our contact form.