by Dan Beaulieu
There are a series of books out about what is called Blue Ocean Strategies. The premise is that most businesses operate in the same ocean, “the Red Ocean”, but to truly succeed a company has to swim in their own ocean, the Blue Ocean. This is all fancy metaphor talk for being different, being better, finding a way to do things differently. A way that will change everything and wow your customers to the point of not only improving your business, but dramatically changing your market as well.
Some examples of Blue Ocean companies are what Uber did for paid ridership and what BnB did to the hotel industry, what Door Dash did for food take out services and, yes, what Instacart did for grocery shopping.
And, of course, there is the biggest example of Blue Ocean strategy, what Amazon did to the retail business…not only changed everything but literally took it over to the point of outright domination.
Okay, let’s get our head out of the clouds and back to earth. What can you do about your particular industry, and marketplace? What kind of Blue Strategy can you come up for your business?
Now, I don’t claim to have all the magic answers, I don’t know your particular business as well as you do, but I can show you how these companies did it.
It’ simple: they focused on their customers. They used their imagination to take them out of their proverbial box of business as usual.
They followed George Bernard Shaw’s advice as often quoted by Robert Francis Kennedy, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
And they ignored the advice of Charles Holland Duell, the commissioner of the U.S. Patent office who, in 1899, wanted to close the office saying, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
So how about you and your business? “What can you do to dream things that never were and ask why not?”
Here are a few steps to help you along the way:
- Sit down and think about your business. Put yourself in your customers’ place. If you were your own customer, what would you like from your business?
- Forget what has come before, what you did before and think of what you can do now, and better yet, what you can do tomorrow.
- Dream a little, or a lot. Don’t let facts and existing barriers get in the way of your imagination. Just let yourself go wild and when you come up with a new great idea…then walk backwards to figure out how to do it.
- Take a look of the world around you. Research what similar companies in other parts of the country, and the world, are doing. Learn more about your own industry, network with other owners in other parts of the world and get some ideas and inspiration from them. The nice thing about being a local business is that if you discover a great Blue Ocean idea from someone in your industry in Salem, Oregon, or London, Ontario, there is nothing wrong with taking the idea and bringing it into your local area.
- The most important thing here is to dare to dream, to find a way to do it, not only differently, but better than anyone in your local marketplace has done it. Create your own Blue Ocean to swim in. And that’s a great way to grow your business.
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