Posted by: ginalazenby | November 25, 2008

Find people’s unmet needs

Gina Lazenby & Mike Harris at the launch of Federation 100

Gina Lazenby & Mike Harris at the launch of Federation 100

I had a brilliant day with Mike (I created three £Billion companies) Harris at Bloomberg’s in the city today.  Mike is a pioneer and champion innovator and I was lucky enough to hear him talk about the steps it takes to create a billion pound enterprise. Are you interested in any insights? I bet you are!  He had so much history to draw on making all the information real and credible. First you have to have Diamond Clarity about what your company does so that when John Humphries from the BBC Today programme (whose interview style terrifies most politicians!) asks you “What’s the big idea then?”, you can answer it in a way that 10 million listeners can immediately get it.  That’s a great skill and an absolute must.  Next, you are either going to provide something that people are already buying but you are going to do it better, more cheaply, more conveniently and/or with more emotional benefit.  He likened this to Henry Ford deciding to provide people with faster horses for their carriages. Or, you are going to tackle an unsolved problem that people or businesses have, or are going to have soon, as a consequence of technological, economic, political or social change. This he likened to Henry Ford launching the motor car as a replacement for the horse-drawn carriage rather than  an improvement. Your business has got to hit an unmet need as the absolute foundation for your success. He shared that the founders of Innocent (the award-winning, natural fruit smoothie brand) started with a question “How am I supposed to get my 5 portions of fruit and veg each day? Wouldn’t it be easier with a drink? It doesn’t exist – then I’ll create it”. Simple.  He talked about how First Direct Bank came about because something was not working in the banking industry and finance company Egg started as a response to the changes brought about by the internet and mobile phones.  Interestingly, Mercury Communications growth came from Mike himself hating BT and the fact that big corporates were getting big discounts but consumers were being charged “a fortune”. From this perception as a customer, Mike engineered the ascendence of Mercury as a huge rival to BT. So folks, it starts with a thought, an insight about what is not happening now or what could be better. I bet you have many personal experiences where you have thought … “I wonder why they don’t do this?” What might happen if you took that thought a little further.  Much as I’d love to, I am not going to give you all my notes and insights from the day with Mike but you can get them from his book “Find your Lightbulb” which is absolutely brilliant. And if you seriously would like coaching for your enterprise from Mike then you could join Federation 100. This is a business accelerator dedicated to helping businesses achieve outrageous results. He is partnering with Landmark Education trainer, Anurag Gupta, of the Difference Engine in Canada and Mynoo Blackbyrn, serial entrepreneur and founder of Inspired Leaders. I feel very blessed to be part of this business coaching forum which was launched this week – see photo of me with Mike and the champagne!  For more, visit Mike’s blog


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