New Perspectives = New Possibilities
Looking at a problem from a new perspective often produces novel possibilities. The next time a client is facing a common problem (low sales, high turn-over, inadequate cash, etc.), ask…* an associate* an athlete* an executive* a religious leader* an artist* a child…how he or she would solve this problem. Synthesize their replies into a new approach to the problem.
In business, you can only differentiate yourself in a few ways. You can lower your price point (making you less profitable). This may get a few customers that might not have been able to afford your service before, but you will do so at the cost of making a good living for yourself.Let the low-end Accountants and Bookkeepers compete on price. You want to get paid what you deserve, so compete on quality of service. Creativity is one way to truly differentiate yourself. When you learn to let your mind wander out of the realm of possibilities that you have already gone over, you will find new solutions for your clients that make them truly more effective, and make you invaluable to their organization.
“Out of the Box” Thinking
While “thinking outside the box” has become a trite phrase, its message is valuable nonetheless. An example of this is the invention of Velcro© hook and loop connectors. The idea came from a brainstorming session in which the participants were asked “what things stick to others”. One suggestion that must have seemed very off the wall was that cockleburs stick to things. Looking into why cockleburs stick to clothing, hair, and so on led to a very profitable product. What kind of solutions are you missing, as well as your competitors, because they are just too far off the beaten path.
The Brainstorming Process
When you want to come up with new ways to do things, it is helpful to go through a brainstorming session. You can do this by yourself or with the help of others (preferable those that won’t steal your ideas and compete with you with them). Start by posing the question that you want to solve, such as, “How can I manage more clients?” Then jot down every idea that comes to you. The use of a tape recorder to get everything that flows from the session may be of use, as you do not want anything like taking notes to slow down the energy of the brainstorming process. At this stage, do not try to qualify any ideas on their feasibility, practicality, or desirability. Just capture the thoughts for now.
Expanding Upon and Refining the Collected Data
Once you have collected the ideas generated during brainstorming, then, and only then, should you try to quantify which suggestions are ones that are practical and can be implemented. Elaborate on each idea, rating them for how well they would accomplish the desired result as well as how difficult or costly they will be to implement. Now, focus on the ideas that can be accomplished that you feel will accomplish the desired result the best and put into action a plan to implement them. Keep the ideas that may seem less desirable for later analysis. You may find that they are better than you thought if the top ranked items don’t work out.
Re-Evaluate and Alter Course
Once you have put one or more of your ideas into practice, periodically review the ideas that you have put into practice. Do some serious analysis of whether they are working as an effective solution to the issue that they were intended to address. Those ideas that are working well you may want to expand on, further refining them or rolling out the idea to other clients or applying the solution to other problems.Ideas that “seemed like good ideas at the time” that don’t accomplish the desired results should either be altered and re-tested or abandoned altogether. This is when you may want to have a new brainstorming session to get new ideas. At this point, do not review the notes from the previous session, as you want to get entirely new perspectives. It has been said that you can not cross the same bridge twice because each time you cross the bridge, YOU are different. Each time you approach a problem, you will come up with new perspectives.When you have captured the new ideas, then look at the ideas from your previous brainstorming session and copy them onto the end of this session’s list, but do not copy the rankings that you gave them before. With new data, you may have new ways to implement the ideas that make them more feasible or you may have found that they were more desirable than you first thought. Now rank the old and new ideas together and repeat the process.
Don’t Pass Up Your Cockleburs
Looking for new solutions to old problems is key to working more effectively and making your business more profitable. If the lowly cocklebur had been thrown out as a silly solution for making things stick, a valuable opportunity would have been missed. You are the expert at what you do. Let your customers know it by offering them solutions to problems that they have never thought of and they will never think of anyone else when it comes to Accounting and Bookkeeping. As we all know, keeping existing clients is easier than getting new ones and when you differentiate yourself from the competition, your clients will tell their friends and colleagues about your service in enthusiastic terms. And wouldn’t you rather have your clients find new business for you than to have to spend the time and money to do it yourself?
Learn to Market and Sell Your Service
“Viral” or word of mouth marketing is just one way to promote your business. Because the demand for this kind of insight is so great, we have devoted an entire section of the Accounting and Bookkeeping Tips site to it. From how to market a brand-new Accounting and Bookkeeping service to techniques of selling, this will be a valuable resource to your profitability.Learn Secrets of Marketing Your Accounting and Bookkeeping Business