THINKING OUTSIDE THE SQUARE IN BUSINESS

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Episode 83

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ABOUT THE SHOW

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Are you thinking outside the square in your business?
Too often we fall into a comfort zone of that’s just the way we do it in our business.
The danger is that the world and technology is moving at a rapid pace, a pace that is unstoppable and impossible to tame.
This means that our customer’s expectations and needs are also rapidly changing.
If we don’t give ourselves time to think outside the square in our businesses we run the risk of becoming out of date and extinct.
If our competitors embrace change and reimagine the delivery of products and solutions to our ideal customers then it is going to be more competitive and difficult to compete in our respective markets.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

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  • The importance of thinking outside the square in your business.
  • Giving yourself free time to do big-picture thinking, to reimagine your product or service
  • The importance of looking at every step of your customer journey and thinking outside the square in terms of technology or changes you could make to stay ahead of your competition in your marketplace.
  • Don’t follow the herd from history, be a thought leader in your space and develop the new frontier.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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Good day, good day and welcome to the Business Made Easy Podcast where we make business easy. Jason Skinner your host here for another week of the podcast that is all about growing your business, growing your bottom line profit and giving you a better life as a result.

Thanks so much for joining me today on this very wet and windy, rainy Goldcoast Wednesday here in Australia. It’s a fantastic day to be inside recording this podcast and being here with you. So, thanks so much for joining me. If you’re new to the show, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button that will make sure you get each episode as we bring you that to you each week. And, those of you who are returning listeners, thanks again for coming back and being here with me as well.

I hope you’ve been getting value out of the show as much as I get value out of podcast bringing it to you every week. I just love putting the show together and helping you as much as you can in your business. That’s what it’s all about, I mean, that’s what we’re all about here at the Business Made Easy Podcast.

So, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to join our free Facebook group over at businessmadeeasypodcast.com/community. So, if you go to businessmadeeasypodcast.com/community, great group of, uh, there’s a great group of entrepreneurs and business owners over there, all sharing their– their experiences and stories in business. So, uh, you can check that over there on the Face– on the free Facebook group. It’s a great group as I say. I’m over there answering any questions that you might have as well.

So, always here for you and if you ever got any questions in business or you’d like a question answered on the show, don’t forget you can always email me directly on [email protected] and I’ll be more than happy to answer your, uh, business questions that you might be having and I may even answer on the show. And, if you get your question answered on the show, then I will send you a free Business Made Easy Podcast t-shirt which is something that’s, uh, is a much sought after item of apparel. Well, maybe not. Maybe it doesn’t have– it hasn’t hit the fashion– fashion stakes yet but, uh, who knows. They are pretty cool. I’ll– I’ll– I’ll enjoy wearing mine. They’re fairly comfortable.

Alrighty, I do you digress. Let’s get on to today’s show. Interesting show today because the topic of today’s show got me thinking after watching the latest Apple launch. You know when they do the, uh, in– in, uh, Cupertino, think it’s pronounced, California. Apologies if I got that wrong, but they do have the big stage and have like [unintelligible] release all the latest and greatest things that Apple is going to do in the year ahead in terms of their product and service offering and I was watching it with really keen interest this morning.

I always sit down and watch it ‘coz I love to stump at a bit of technology, baffle up to see what’s coming up and coming out of them– in the year to come but I was, um, I was watching with interest this morning but there were no real devices as such that though, uh, sort of bringing it up but everything related around services and different ways of delivering services.

You know, they had the, um, they came to launch a magazine, um, subscription service now and you say you pay a monthly fee but you get access to virtually any magazine that you want to read at any time on demand. They’re bringing up subscription TV services. You know we can watch all these various TV shows, call as you want. Geez, I want to get through all the changes that they’re bringing in but this isn’t a, uh, promote Apple [chuckles] podcast. So I will get to the point of what I’m talking about. But as I was listening to all these latest services that they’re bringing out, it sort of dawned to me– at first I sort of thought, there’s really nothing really ground-breaking here. I mean, yeah, you’ve been able to read magazines online for ages now. You know, that’s nothing new. You’ve been able to watch, download TV, or YouTube or– you know, there’s not much to downloading and– and that many TV streaming services, you know, available now. There was nothing really ground-breaking in what they were saying in terms of new technology.

But it sort of– I sort of pondered further and I pondered further, and I watched it with keen interest and I really sort of had a bit of lightbulb moment and I sort of thought back– may have mentioned this story before in my childhood but I thought it reminded me back in my childhood and I remember that when we first got our very first video recorder. Do you remember those, uh, VHS. It’s called a VHS video recorder.

I remember Dad bringing it home for the first time and it had this, uh, little, so you basically had this big cassette which was the video itself or VHS [inaudible] and you put it in and Dad was, you know, Dad had a grin– grin on his face from ear to ear and all the family is gathered around in the lounger. We’re all wondering what it’s going to do and the next minute, you know, in comes to a movie, and you could watch a movie whenever you wanted to by putting in this video cassette into the recorder, video recorder.

Dad thought he was kingpin with this video recorder. I don’t know how many other families had them but we had this video recorder and I remember going down to the very first video shop and Dad talking to the man, and talking about where videos are going and how videos– there’s a war between VHS and Beta videos which were just basically two different types of cassette that really did the same, same thing. Which one was a different quality to the other, a little bit? HD versus, uh, you know, whatever else was– 4K or whatever is going on out there in the technology. They always seem to have these technological platform battles as to which ones are going to be the market leader. It’s going on forever and a day.

But the thing of this story that I got as a child, I’ve never ever forgotten was, I remember the man in the video shop who owns the video store at that time, saying, “You know, one day, you will be able to just turn your TV on and you’ll be able to just push ‘play’ and you’ll be able to [inaudible] find whatever movie you want to watch on your TV and just push ‘play’ and that movie will just play. And, you’ll be able to stop it and start it, whatever you want to. You’ll be able to rewind it on your TV.”

And I was just, that’s incredible like how– I could not see for the life of me how that could ever possibly happen. How could you get– and I picture this room. And I’m sure I have told this story before so apologies if you have. But how could you get all these video recorders all in one room to service the whole world wanting to push record and rewind? I couldn’t see past the video recorder that we have in our lounge room that was playing the movies. I could not see how. The only– I couldn’t see past how that would be the only way that you could have a video on demand that you could rewind and record. I just, for the life of me, thought there would have a massive, massive room full of all these recorders and then someone putting in the cassette that you want to watch and then play.

And then, how would the– how was the remote even going to talk back to that big room somewhere in the sky. And so, you know, it fascinated me where this guy was talking and back then, now, I’m not going to show my age too much here but you know, that’s a good, Jesus, it has to be a good twinge or 30 years ago that we’re already talking about these subscription services in these online demands services.

And my point to this is that someone along the line has thought outside the square and people have already been imagining this stuff and it wasn’t possible back then to do that. Obviously, we still have video recorders. That people’s dreams and people’s ideas and thoughts of thinking outside the box says to, what can be reimagined? What services can be reimagined and how can they be developed and asking the questions, you know, the right questions and taking the right actions to discover that change and implement that change.

And– and that brought me back to Apple, you know. In actual fact, their announcements that they’re releasing today was I didn’t think they were ground-breaking in terms of technology but what they’ve actually done is they’ve reimagined the why-we-buy media or watch our media. They’ve reimagined the why-we-buy magazines. Yes, we can get magazines online. We all subscribe to– have possibly subscribed to magazine services, you know, such as Vogue or Better Homes or Business Weekly or whatever magazine subscription you buy.

But what Apple has done is they’ve actually reimagined it again further and– and packaged it up into one reasonable fee per month where you can read any magazine that is in that catalogue. So, you know, you can read hundreds of magazines. You can read an article in National Geographic Magazine then flick over to another magazine. So they’ve reimagined the way their services are going to work and they really was actually when I thought about it, some great ground-breaking ideas and it wasn’t so much in technology but they’ve actually thought about how we, as consumers, now work and if complemented it with their technology and their– and their offering.

And so, we’re getting into this– again, it’s this industry disruption, this digital disruption of the environment. Now, I see this magazine, um, subscription service that Apple is bringing out, and I’m not talking about one thing. I mean, they’ve brought out a heap of things. I’m not going to get through them all but they have brought out this monthly magazine subscription. Now, what is that going to do to news agencies? What’s that going to do to the newsstand where you’re going to buy these magazines to the shops at Sylvie’s Physical Magazines if we’re all paying a small monthly fee and we can read anything we want to, what does that– what does that do to that industry? And, this is where I think, we as a business [unitelligible] is really in the current time and probably more so now than ever, need to be thinking and reimagining what are these that we do as a solution– what as solutional service does provides to our ideal, uh, customer.

I guess, my point of today’s podcast is just that, how can you reimagine your product or service in a way that better serves your customer, or are we just going about doing the same old way that we’ve always know and the way we’ve been taught. I’ll use an example for you and I’ll pick on a trade or an industry but let’s just say that you’re an electrician.

You finish school and you basically go to work and– and as an apprentice and you do your apprenticeship under a qualified tradesman. So, somebody who already has a business in the electrical business. You go from school into trade school and you, you work and serve your time under that business owner. And that business owner has actually done the same thing for years, that’s the way it has happened. You’ve basically finished school, gone to trade school, learn how to do the trade and then how you’ve been taught is how you implement your next generation of doing that– doing things that way.

Now, I’m sure there are lots of different ways to do electrical work but fundamentally, I think you’ll find if you drill down most electrical business all run the same way. Appointments are made, the customer would ring up with the electrical problem, an appointment is made in the diary, and the electrician turns up, does the work, he goes home, fills in the invoice book and posts that or emails that, uh, the invoice and waits to get paid.

But that’s the way it’s always been done, forever in a day. Is there a better way? Is there a different way that technology could be used in any of those processes or within any of that journey with the customer? Could that electrician– could the modern day electrician look at how they’re delivering their product or service to meet their customer’s needs? The customer’s problem is they have an electrical problem i.e. they need the lights on or they need the Powerpoint or an extra power circuit assembly. Is there a better way that that electrician could deliver that product or service?

Now, yes there’s a physical element to doing it. Someone has to go and physically implement that but is there a better way that the– is there a better way that the customer could be communicated with? Is there a better way that technology could be implemented into the service to better communicate with the customer and meet the customer’s expectations? What frustrations do the customers have when, uh, when they’re dealing with your product or service, or your industry? Asking those hard questions and really looking at– thinking outside the square as to drilling down on what is the customer’s problem that you solve and what is the– what is their frustration in having that problem solved. And the better you can answer those things and get clear about what you do in your business, I believe you’re going to be at the forefront of industry change and being able to shape and mould an industry.

And it’s happening everywhere, really, it’s happening everywhere. I mean, you look at Airbnb. I could start– Airbnb started because a couple of young guys couldn’t get a hotel room somewhere. They couldn’t get a hotel room somewhere so they, they ended up developing a– a booking agency for sharing accommodation and rooms around it, therefore, it has disrupted the whole hotel industry but it is satisfying so many customers out there who don’t want to go and pay for hotel “We just want to get a room.” And it’s actually opening and income [unintelligible] for other people. It has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber with– what with the ride sharing.

You know, we all know what Uber does and various other competitors, Lift, etc but they have disrupted the taxi industry. They don’t own a car. They haven’t gone and bought fleets of cars. They just thought outside this square as to how they could better manage transportation from A to B in a more affordable and, you know, a different experience for customers looking for a ride. There’s a ton of examples around there. Upwork for instance, if you can basically go and employ anyone to do anything now using services like Upwork and it’s a– it’s an absolute game-changer in terms of getting things done.

All these things are changing, industries are changing business environments and this is what I want you to think of today is how you can change, um, what you can change in your industry to deliver that service or product better. Now, there’s gonna be a few things. There’s gonna be things that you just can’t change, I mean, there were– like the electrician. He has to– he or she has to go and put that socket into the– into the house. I mean, if you need an extra socket, sometimes there’s licenses and regulations that say that someone must be licensed, etc to do that. But there are various steps, only one component of the overall experience.

Now, I want you to think about that in your business. What components can we start with? Start small, map it out– map it out. What processes and steps in the customer journey you can actually reimagine? Re– I call it freestyle thinking really but you might have paper forms that you send to a customer. You might have paper forms that a customer has to fill in when they, um, when they buy your service or anything on that. What if you could convert those paper forms into an electronic form that they could sign and you could email it to them on autopilot when– when that document had to go out.

You know, these various electronic signing platforms and technology now that you can turn a paper form into a very secure form that can be signed online and return back without any fuss. And, you’re gonna remember, people are consuming– they’re multi-contextual now. They’re basically– they’re not just able to deal with paper forms. They’re also on their– on their smartphones and dealing with things electronically. They’re dealing with a thing on social media. They’re dealing with things on YouTube and in a digital video form, you know. One of the things– one of the, um, things I love is Bonjour.

It’s an application. You know, when someone signs up for your product or service that your record a quick video and it emails that video to the customer whilst your customer who’ve had– we had the Bonjour[?] guys on the show before and I’ll link it to the show notes but yeah, basically, you know, if someone does something, you can send them a quick video wherever you are in the world and wow and delight them.

Now that– that is going to set you apart from your competitors that aren’t doing those things because they’re not listening to this podcast [chuckles] for starters but they’re not thinking outside the square. They’re not– they’re just doing the same old every day and this is how we do it in this industry. And I want you to be a game changer in your industry. I want you to be a, you know, a– an actual disruptor of your industry and say, “Hey, these guys were the first to do this” and wow your customers. Um, little things that I’ve implemented in our business and we’re– we’re doing some major things at the moment.

So, our actual accounting practice which is a traditionally very black and white sort of very [unintelligible], you know, join the dots type profession and business. We’re implementing some changes at the moment that once fully rolled out, I’m going to really change the way and the boring way that previously custo– but not so much boring, I won’t say that. But certainly, the grudging way that people have to deal with accounts before, we’re looking at ways to reimagine that service and how could be wow our customers even more and make them go wow. You know, the tax and accounting aren’t so bad. You know, I want to — you know, I want to keep going back to the accountants for help because, you know, it’s just so enjoyable when I do. And that’s you know, that how we struggle.

That’s our challenge that we’re trying to do with our business. So, I’m not telling you anything that I don’t do myself and– and we don’t do ourselves in our businesses but it’s– it really is very, very important that we embrace the journey of change and– and we, we develop that experience. Now, I get that that could be very hard sometimes, but not sometimes, all the time pretty well. It can be hard to do that particularly if you’re feeling under the pump and under pressure, constantly on distress, constantly running out of days of the week, etc. But you’ve got to prioritize some freestyle thinking time within your week. I feel it’s really, really important that you find your most creative part of your week and just– even if it’s an hour to sit down to and think just quietly without devices and phones and emails, etc. Just thinking stuff out on paper.

Let’s get that thought process going. I think you’re going to be a, um, a lot more advanced than your competitors and the other thing from that is then implementing that change or making sure implement, um, what it is that you– and develop it out. You know, it’s not easy. You need to take steps. You need to take action but just, you know, if you set a time each week that you can sit down and just brainstorm ideas and then ask questions about it or how will that happen or what could I do to– to make this action happen. Break– break it down into smaller steps. If you got one big thing that you want to achieve, what are the components that would make that happen and work on each of those components to form the big thing? So, the big action item out of that.

So, I have to make sense. It’s really important and it sort of dawned on me today that, you know, Apple wasn’t really taking the conservative line. I really thought, not being critical of them, but I really felt when I was watching the [inaudible] I thought there’s nothing really great there, nothing really new but then I reflected on actually what it was that they were doing and where they were causing disruption and where they were– where they were leading the game. And, um, you know, they will be making some significant changes in some industries. One in particular which I didn’t touch on earlier was the credit card industry. They’re bringing out the– what they call the Apple, it sounds like an Apple advertisement, I do apologize. It’s just literally that I’ve– I– I watched this, this morning but there are plenty of other people doing this as well. But Apple basically bringing out the Apple Card. Now the Apple Card is going to disrupt the credit card industry by a massive amount because they’re not having fees, light fees. There’s always different benefits and features of this card, security. So they’ve really analyzed their market place [inaudible] you know what do our customers want that we can deliver and if teamed up some other people to deliver that. You know, virtually no annual fees on the credit card, no light payment fees as I said, uh, very low-interest rate, um, and if you use your card, they actually give cash back on a daily basis for every dollar you spend instead of points.

They actually give you physical cash back. You know, all these game-changing things that– that the other– that the credit card industry is not currently doing. Now, where is everybody going to go when they’re disgruntled with their credit card service provider. They’re going to go to something like this that’s well marketed, well put together, and well thought out. And that’s — I guess I’ll leave you with that point is that I want you to think about that with your industry. If you’re an electrician if you’re a tow truck driver, and if you’re a retail shop. Whatever it is that you do. If you’re on an online business, how can you reshape your– your service or add and complement to your service to wow your customers even more and change.

But don’t just– I’m not talking about just an extra thank you at the sale– the point of sale. I’m talking about how can you drastically make changes to how your product or services is delivered and perceived by your customers and really, um, shift your industry and be a leader in your industry. I’m not suggesting you’ll be as big as Apple and I’m not suggesting you should go out and re-engineer everything but I do think we need to think in terms of industry like how can we do things better with the technology that is now available rather than sitting back and just letting– just letting the same old happen– happen, uh, every day and think that that’s just the way we do that job.

That’s my point for today’s podcast. I want you to be thinking like that. Set some time aside each week to send out– just on a weekend even. Even it is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Just sit back and get a pen and paper and think about your customer, your ideal customer. What are their frustrations? What points in your service offering could you make that service better? Okay. So, that’s my, uh, point and, I guess, the topic for you today is to think outside the box and, um, and outside the square and don’t– don’t just rest on what you’ve been taught from the past.

‘Coz here’s the thing too. We don’t know what we don’t know and, uh, when you think about that, it’s true. We just don’t know what can be done yet. So ask the questions. Ask difficult questions. All right. Enough of our [unintelligible]. [Chuckles] I feel very passionate about this area because– because it is just such a, uh, with the technology, we live in one of the most, uh, exciting times and the most developing times and disruptive time, and I don’t know what you’re getting left by the wayside by someone else who is actually doing and thinking these things. So, that’s why I wanted to bring this to you today.

Alrighty. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you have enjoyed today’s episode and, um, if you, uh, haven’t done so already, I would love it if you could leave a review over on iTunes. That really helps the show to get found. You can do that just by going onto your– onto your Apple device or even if you’re listening on Spotify. We are on Spotify now as I mentioned before. So you can go and subscribe on Spotify and leave a review there as well. It would help as well. But I do appreciate you listening and I do appreciate you coming back every week and I love putting the show together for you. So, until next week, I’m going to hand you over to Mia and here’s to your success. All the best guys. See you next week.

Mia: You’ve been listening to the Business Made Easy Podcast, where we make business easy.

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LINKS MENTIONED

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START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it's the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

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