Creativity and innovation the keys to business survival. Heed economic indicators, not schizophrenic stock market. Five keys to a real-world business plan.
U.S. financial markets continued their slide, hampered by uncertainty over how tough U.S. regulators will get with Wall Street speculators and how many blue-chip financial institutions may get sucked into the mounting European debt crisis. The key word here is “uncertainty” not actuality.
In the real world, consumer confidence is rising as the job market and housing front continue to improve. On Tuesday, The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 63.3 points, up from 57.7 points in April. The index got a boost from the six-month consumer outlook which jumped to 85.3 from 77.4, the highest since August 2007. A reading of 90 indicates economy on solid footing, 100 means growth. Index hit a record low of 25.3 back in Feb 2009. Home sales were better than expected in April. Existing home sales were the highest in five months according to National Association of Realtors (NAR) and median home prices rose for the second straight month, 2.1 percent in April despite an 8-month inventory on the market. And ad spending continues to rebound as researcher IDC projected U.S. online ad spending to shoot up 12.6 percent by end of 2010, it has now raised that number to 19 percent to $31.5 billion. The change follows a string of surprisingly strong numbers for all segments of online advertising, even display, which had been in decline for the past two years. Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said internet ad spending rose 7.5 percent in Q1 to $5.9 billion.
Creativity key to corporate survival
A newly released IBM study of 1,500 CEOs found that 79 percent expect increased global complexity and only 49 percent feel prepared to deal with it. The IBM study was based on face-to-face interviews with leaders of all size companies in 33 industries and 60 companies.
Surveyed execs identified “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity. How so? Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.
CEOs now realize that creativity trumps other leadership characteristics. Creative leaders are comfortable with ambiguity and experimentation. To connect with and inspire a new generation, they lead and interact in entirely new ways. CEOs saw the need to seed creativity across their organizations rather than set apart “creative types” in siloed departments like product design. To benefit from the diversity of ideas each employee can contribute. Standouts encourage a new mindset of questioning. They invite employees at all levels to challenge assumptions based on past experiences and scrutinize “the way we’ve always done things.”
Our take? Great ideas, but a commitment to creativity and agility is more easily said than done when you factor in quarterly analysts and shareholder pressure and a hyper-paranoid workforce that’s scared to death of having a mistake pinned on them.
5 keys to a real world business plan
According to blogger, Seth Godin, the traditional corporate or venture capital-seeking business plan is a croc.
“If I want the real truth about a business and where it's going, I'd divide the modern business plan into five sections,” quips Godin:
The truth section describes the world as it is. Tell me about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The assertions section is your chance to describe how you're going to change things. We will do X, and then Y will happen. We will build Z with this much money in this much time. The alternatives section tells me what you'll do if that happens. How much flexibility does your product or team have? If your assertions don't pan out, is it over? The people section rightly highlights the key element... who is on your team, who is going to join your team. 'Who' doesn't mean their resume, who means their attitudes and abilities and track record in shipping. And the last section is all about money. How much do you need, how will you spend it, what does cash flow look like, P&Ls, balance sheets, margins and exit strategies.
Cell phones use more for data than calls
CITA, the wireless industry association reported last week that the amount of data in text, music, e-mail and other activities surprassed voice calls on mobile devices in 2009.
According to comScore, total cell phone subscribers from 2009 to 2010 is about the same, but the number of users going online is up across almost all Web categories. Visitors to social networking sites like Facebook and Twiter increased 78 percent. Many more users are going to reference site like Answer.com or wiki, up 46 percent and banking sites up 45 percent.
Top categories for browsing on mobile devices
1. Search 32.1M users +36%
2. Social networking 27.3M users +78%
3. Weather 26.1M users _+ 21%
4. News 24M users +29%
5. Sports info 19.7M users +25%
Don’t be fooled by the schizophrenic stock market. This recovery – no matter how fragile – is the real deal. Today’s market leaders are the ones who’ve had the pedal to the metal since the depths of the recession, not the “duck and cover” crowd. Agility, creativity and the willingness to make mistakes (and learn from them) will guide you through all types of water, no matter how turbulent.