Staggering statistics show that nearly half of all small to medium businesses (SMB) fail within their first four years of operation. To combat such dire results, technology presents an opportunity for SMBs to thrive through a digital transformation. In his article Six Stages of Digital Transformation, Vala Afshar recommends a digital transformation for SMBs involving “the realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees to effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.” Although many companies will fail to take advantage of the opportunities presented by technology, those anticipating success will leverage digital resources to differentiate themselves from competitors as they develop a digital strategy and plan of action to achieve sustainability and future success.
In The Idea Agent: The Handbook on Creative Processes, Michanek and Breiler contend there is a need in today’s creative economy “to identify fresh opportunities in something new or existing, and business developers need to solve their customer’s’ problems more effectively.” Michanek and Breiler outline three types of needs that customers are faced with: (1) Issue-Oriented: entails a tangible problem that requires a new solution (2) Opportunity-Oriented: presents an opportunity to create a future need that people are unaware they have (3) Emotion or Opinion-Oriented Need: generally based on the thoughts of an individual, which can be expressed in an artistic context. Based on trends and the needs of SMBs in the creative age, business owners need assistance with issue-oriented needs involving business efficiencies, automation, communication and collaboration, and customer service. Additionally, SMBs face opportunity-oriented challenges that may be solved through a digital transformation strategy involving web presence, search engine optimization, mobile app development, digital marketing, metrics, predictive analytics, and data driven decisions.
Michanek and Breiler argue that needs identification can be the most critical element of all development work. Consequently, the first step in the development of an idea into a business opportunity should “begin with the end in mind.” Prior to executing an idea, there needs to be a strategy and plan of action mapped out, addressing the following parameters: needs significance, need origin, outcome content, and presentation of outcome. Accordingly, it is vital that ideas do not become mired in the details of the process. In their book, The practice of adaptive leadership, Heifetz, Linsky, and Grashow recommend the balcony and dancefloor metaphor, which helps leaders achieve a more holistic perspective of the idea. This vantage points is derived from the imaginary balcony—above the technical details of the project which is reflected by the dancefloor. The ability to become agile, moving back and forth between the balcony and the dance floor is crucial for all leaders in search of a successful idea for their business.
As the founder of VujaDay Creative Digital Agency, a key talking point with clients and colleagues often focuses on the ability to keep one eye on the issue-oriented concerns, with the other eye on the opportunity-oriented issues including larger patterns and dynamics. In light of the recognition that we live in a competitive marketplace, a key step in the refinement of any idea is defining the focus area based on one question that addresses anticipated results. While building VujaDay, I asked myself the following: What is it that your company does, and how is it different from competitors? I learned that the scope of that question was too broad. To effectively narrow the focus area, the question must be easy to understand, without excessive criteria because requirements will be difficult to navigate and implement. Thus, I was forced to adjust the question, which includes an elevator pitch that I still use today:
You know how most SMBs fail to leverage technology to meet the needs of today’s digital consumers?
My answer (elevator pitch):
In a world where people rely on technology for their daily activities, we offer creative digital solutions to transform existing business activities, boost online visibility, and create new business opportunities through web design / development, SEO, mobile app design / development, analytics and digital marketing.
Take a look at the VujaDay Website to see the response integrated into the key areas of the site.