Getting to NO: One Word That Can Change How You Do Business

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NO! Just say it out loud… No! One of the most powerful words in the English language is also one of the most underused. It is a word that should be heard in businesses more often. It should echo off the walls of board rooms of Fortune 500 corporations just the same as it does from local small businesses.

Saying “no” is not a negative thing — when done for the right reasons. We often resist using the word out of fear of seeming unsupportive, hurting the asker's feelings, or (possibly) losing out on something we think might be potentially beneficial in the future. For most of us, it is just easier to say “yes.”

…But don’t!

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Rust-Oleum: Where Does Innovation Come From?

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Often times, the most memorable (and successful) innovations are disruptive. They break into an existing market, shattering current paradigms and restructuring them into something fresh and vibrant. The launch of iTunes completely disrupted and reshaped the modern music industry — a point we noted in our previous post about Steve Jobs' approach to innovation. Within two years of its launch, millions of consumers had migrated from buying complete albums at full retail price and were now paying a fraction of that price for single tracks. Now, it's impossible to conceive of the music industry without iTunes.

But not all innovations are disruptive, market-altering products, and an innovation doesn’t have to be a blockbuster hit to be successful. Markets can't be redefined by every new product or service. Often times, a smart variation of an existing product can often be just as successful as a disruptive innovation. As Albert Einstein noted,

“A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way, but intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual activity.”

Just as great ideas are often the result of previous thoughts, great new products are often the result of slight alterations or improvements upon existing ones. Consider the junk food industry, which keeps consumers hooked with a new flavor of Doritos, or the tech industry, which keeps us buying the newest iteration of laptop or cell phone every few years. These innovations — known as line extensions — are slight variations of a brand’s previous products.

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How Google Works: The 80% Rule

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Great business leaders usually have great teams behind them. As we have discussed previously on this blog, Google's incredible success is the result not just of great executives, but of a company culture that prizes innovation and strategic thinking. They hire top talent, encourage transparency and collaboration, and employ practices that focus and inspire their employees. 

We've analyzed Google's hiring practices and their efforts to create transparency in the workplace. Now it's time to discuss their strategic time-management practices as illuminated by former CEO Eric Schmidt in his inspiring and challenging book, How Google Works.

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How Google Works: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

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To be the best, we must learn from the best. This is an idea we recently began highlighting in our series analyzing the business practices Google has adopted since its launch nearly 20 years ago. Since its creation, Google has been working incessantly to perfect every aspect of both owning and operating a company — a point we noted in our previous post about the innovative hiring practices used at Google.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s current Executive Chairman (and former CEO), chronicles the company's rise and the lessons he learned during this climb in his book, How Google Works. Schmidt addresses the ever-changing landscape of consumer culture and explains how all businesses must change with the new market. To succeed, we must begin attracting smart, innovative minds and allow these “creatives” (as he calls them) an open, transparent, and collaborative work environment in which to operate. How Google Works explains precisely how to do this.

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How Google Works: Hire the Right People

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Hiring the right people is difficult. Finding someone you can trust, delegate tasks to, and who is able to manage part of your businesses everyday affairs is an inherently difficult task — especially when there is no specific science or exact strategy to turn to.

However, one company is revolutionizing the approach to hiring: unsurprisingly, it’s Google.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, explains the company’s innovative and in-depth hiring process in his book, How Google Works. Google has always been known for their successful hiring practices, but thanks to Schmidt’s book, the company’s analytical and structured approach to hiring is gaining traction with businesses across the nation. Max Nisen, a reporter for Business Insider, points out that,

“Google likely sees more data than any company on the planet. And that obsession carries through to hiring and management, where every decision and practice is endlessly studied and analyzed.”

But what about Google’s strategy makes them so successful? Let’s explore some aspects of their hiring practices and find the takeaways that can benefit any company.

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iTunes: Where Does Innovation Come From?

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Obstacles make for great innovations. When something can’t be done, there is likely a great mind working to prove that wrong. The Wright brothers were scoffed at for their ideas on flight. Both Henry Ford and Bill Gates were ridiculed for thinking automobiles and computers should be owned by all. Innovation doesn’t come easy, but there is inspiration everywhere we look as long as we know what to look for.

Walter Isaacson’s new book The Innovators centers around the great minds that created the internet and computers that have irrevocably shaped the modern world. The visionary ideas of innovators like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs gave rise to some of the disruptive products that revolutionized the way people live. I want to explore the story of one of Steve Job’s greatest creative leaps, the obstacles he encountered, and the reverberating effects it had on the marketplace and the world.

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Two Types of Customers Who Are Pivotal to Your Product’s Launch

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It's been said again and again, both on this blog and elsewhere, that the only surefire way to successfully launch a new product or brand is to listen to what customers say they need and then give it to them. No matter how innovative the product, it won't sell unless it addresses a need in the market. As an addendum to my recent posts about market research, I'd like to talk about what comes immediately after. Once we have proof of concept and a working prototype has been developed, we get to interact with potential customers on a less theoretical level, and they still have a lot to teach us.

What types of customers are these? What role do they play in our product's ongoing development? How can we utilize their feedback? All of these are questions that business owners have asked, and we have the answers. 

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