Tips on how to reinvent your business, from SA’s ‘dealer in hope and optimism’

It’s easy to be worried about your business’s long-term sustainability when you look at the speed at which technology is putting companies and industries into intensive care. Don’t accept what looks like the inevitable, though, because often the biggest business ideas are to be found in the most challenging times – right under our noses.

That’s the central message of this blog by Andrew Horton, who calls himself a dealer in hope and optimism. It’s the upbeat nature of his messages that undoubtedly ensures Andrew is in demand as a motivational speaker. Not only does he entertain the crowds and keep them captivated; he gets his audiences energised and buzzing with fresh ideas. As Andrew says, he is a catalyst for positive change. For ideas on how you can follow Andrew’s lead,  and feel good about the future, read on. – JC

Andre Horton - inspirational speaker shares some thoughts about his subject
Andrew Horton: why you need to innovate – or evaporate

By Andrew Horton*

I was surprised, a few years back when FNB, one of the oldest and largest banks in South Africa, opened a computer store in Eastgate. According to Apple, FNB is the largest seller of its computer products. Who would have believed that was even possible, a few years back?

Look around your world

There are other major and more subtle changes going on around us all the time. People no longer engage in open conversation; they seem to prefer texting or other electronic methods of communicating.

Social media has put a whole new spin on the way we tell the world about our lives. Reality TV has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, with people evidently obsessed with other people’s lives. The list goes on and on.

When last did you take the time to step away from all the noise going on all around you and taken the time to observe all the changes going on in your world? Or ask yourself: What do you see changing in your world, which could either pose a threat to or offer a huge opportunity to you or your business?

Ask yourself these few crucial questions:

  • Are there changes going on, in and around my own industry, which I am not aware of, which could either be a threat or present me with new opportunity?
  • Are you possibly even involved in an industry where there is major negative change going on, where you may be oblivious to the threats these changes pose to your businesses survival?
  • Are there any positive changes happening right before your eyes, but you are not taking advantage of them, for the benefit of yourself or your business – because you have not bothered to look?
  • Are there any new technologies, which may be either beneficial or detrimental to you or your business?

Secrets to successful innovation

Explore your world, see the changes and, instead of throwing your arms into the air in despair, ask better questions like:

  • How can I take advantage of all these changes, to my advantage?
  • If other people are able to take advantage of change on innovate to their advantage, then why not me?

Think of things that do not yet exist and ask: “Why not?” Every successful product or service which exists today or will exist tomorrow started out as only a spark of electrical energy in someone’s head. A someone, just like you, who was completely committed to, and believed in, the potential success of their product or service.

Ed Lowe, the inventor of the cat litter, invented a completely new industry, because there were changes in his industry which left him with tons of unsold clay. He decided to ask “why not?” He changed his world completely.

When changes happen in your world, it does not mean the end. It often just means that you need to break free from your self-imposed comfort zone open your mind, so that you can see different ways of doing business or new ways of using current resources.

If the bookstores, video shops and music stores wake-up in time, they can turn things around. It will not be easy, but with some really innovative thinking, they can not only save their businesses, but also even grow them.

There are already moves afoot, where you can hire videos for seven days, at a very reasonable fee. These are delivered to your door and then returned at the local petrol station. Only time will tell if this new idea will be successful or not. I take my hat off to the person who thought of this innovation. Some bookstores have included coffee shops to encourage people to visit and buy books. I hope this works out for them too.

When you innovate, keep it simple

In the past, programming a VCR was so complicated that no one ever bothered to even try. The designers of the DVR took cognisance of this and today, it is a really simple process to program your DVR. When innovating, the secret to success is to simplify.

Learn to have an open and exploring mind, all the time. When Percy Spencer noticed a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted after standing close to a magnetron, he started to look for the opportunity this presented. He realised he had stumbled onto something incredible and spent the next twenty years developing the microwave oven.

The secret to innovation is constant awareness and a questioning mind. There may be opportunities for innovation in front of you right now.

* For more about the writer, see Andrew Horton’s website.


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