Michael Burcham, President & CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, shared with entrepreneurs and small business owners at E|SPACES what he has learned over the past 30 years in business. “The journey between the idea and turning your idea into something real has to do with one’s ability to think, make choices, recruit people, and move your product ahead.” In order to turn your idea into reality, Michael shared what he considers fundamental components of the Executive’s Toolbox.
The Executive’s Toolbox
Get a picture of what’s wrong
“Most people start a symptom business not a problem solving business.” It is important to know your customer and the difference between their symptom and the root issue. Your focus should be on really getting to know and understand your customers.
Build flow charts of the customer experience (optimize margin, customer experience and value)
Get everything up on the wall. Begin with the kernel of the idea and draw out all the ways things could be done in order to develop your product and serve your customers. Allow others to engage with it and give your customers a way to interact with you on the business plan early on.
Develop a Business Case
“If your shiny object doesn’t make money, it’s art not business.” Your business has to make more margin than what’s already out in the market.
Talk to prospects and customers. It’s important to get the picture out of your head and share it with people. Let them help you fill in the design. Develop a prototype in order to figure out how to create a service or product that appeals to people. Talk to your customers (or potential customers) – understanding their needs is the most important part of planning your model!
Keep in Mind . . . every business drifts off north. No matter how good we are (or perceive we are) we will be off 10 degrees. We usually start off close, but over time drift off so far. That gap is driven because every day most of us have a certain amount of fact and a certain amount of assumptions. The executive’s job is to close the gap between where we are and where we thought north really was. Your company may be profitable and have some margin but your competitive advantage is slowly eroding. “Our goal in life is to be really good at something.” This takes 3-5-7 even 10 years for something to be really good. That same path that makes us good also tends to leave us in the sandbox and as technology advances and needs change we don’t take new risks and step out.