More ideas, better ideas – innovate now

Dealing with the challenges in your business has become increasingly urgent with the economy as it is. Yet we know that some business people thrive under any circumstances. These far-sighted business people take measures to innovate their business despite prevailing circumstances.

A business owner* who runs a media and website business was experiencing a gradual drop in his conversion rate from quotation to sales, which was leading to lower revenues. At we jump at such challenges and offered to help solve the problem using the idea-generation and ideation expertise we’ve developed over a number of years.

At first he was skeptical. “But how can creativity and new ideas work for my business when all I have is a sales conversion problem?” he asked. Our reply was, “Why not give it a try and see what happens. You haven’t come up with a solution now and who knows when you’ll stop the decline so using these idea generation techniques and processes could help you right now, wouldn’t they?”

Steps to produce amazing ideas

We started with a closer enquiry into the possible cause of the lower quotes to sales conversion. Next, we took the business owner through a series of steps to produce ideas that were imaginative and energizing. We tried to disturb the usual thinking patterns that keeps us stuck in familiar thinking ruts – the same tired ideas that get raised in brainstorm meetings that never seem to fire inspiration or let alone work.

He had an initial resistance to these new approaches but we guided him into the processes we have developed. We’ve found that it is often better to just get on with following the tools and processes and finding new solutions than to get into detailed, arcane explanations that will only really be understood once they are experienced when the results start flowing.

The tools and techniques used to assist this business person to generate ideas were suited to his temperament and natural curiosity. Knowing what works best with individual customers is important so that they remain motivated to complete the necessary steps.

 Astounded at the quality of ideas

The business owner was astounded by the number and quality of ideas produced. His problem became how to sort through all the ideas and prioritise them. We gave him a simple prioritization grid which quickly helped him select the best ideas with the fastest and biggest payback that he could action in his business right away.

 The result of the ideas produced and implemented was a 200% increase in quotes to sales conversion. All this was achieved through working on tangible and intangible parts of his service and increasing benefits for customers.

 “We increased our sales conversion by 200%”

“Using’s ideation process, we came up with new ideas for our business that helped us increase our sales conversation by 200%,” the business owner told us afterwards. “We generated so many ideas that it will take a year to implement them all. We’re already started on actioning just three and the results are amazing.”

 Leapfrog competitors

By generating more and better ideas small businesses can leapfrog their competitors through innovative ways to do business. Unless idea generation is purposeful and directed towards a clear, definite end goal the results will be less than spectacular. The idea generation facilitator needs to be experienced or very familiar with business and the success factors for small business because a high level of experience is required. While business is often considered a science by the business schools, it’s more of an art that requires a high level of judgement and ingenuity to activate the levers that will produce the best results.

Businesses faced with the challenges in the marketplace today with lower demand, varying customer buying patterns and price-sensitive customers have a choice to wait and do nothing until disaster strikes or innovate their businesses to produce stronger profits and stay ahead of their competition.

* Details of the business owner and managing director of this case study can be made on request to

Win your inner creative war

Creating anything of value requires getting started. But many things can get in the way. Who is the real enemy? What prevents us from achieving our best work?

It’s a problem we all face – getting started. Your idea for a business, a website, a sales letter, a charity, an e-book, a song, a poem, a painting lies dormant in your imagination waiting for you to bring it to life.

Someday you’ll get around to it. Or on the weekend … The weekend comes and goes and you’re still don’t have anything to show for it. What’s stopping you? How can you get started? Why can it be so hard to create what you feel in your bones you can do or long to do?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in a book titled “The War of Art” (not to be confused with “The Art of War, the ancient Chinese book on strategy) by Steven Pressfield (Grand Central Publishing, New York).

Facing the real enemy

In the first part of the book Pressfield defines the enemy: Resistance. “Resistance,” he says, “cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled.” It can be felt and its aim is to prevent us from doing our work whether it is to launch an entrepreneurial venture, pursue any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, a diet or health regimen and even an act that takes commitment of the heart such as to get married, have a child or weather a rocky patch in a relationship.”

Resistance, or self-sabotage, is often fuelled by fear (a good indicator as it tells us what to do) but has many forms such as drugs, shopping, TV, gossip and consuming unhealthy foods. Just about anything can keep us from starting our work. Resistance can involve the choice of a mate, choosing someone who has it or is successfully overcoming resistance. “Maybe it’s easier to endow our partner with the power that we in fact possess but are afraid to act upon,” he says.

Putting things off can be fatal

Procrastination, when it becomes a habit, can be fatal to our life’s work, putting of things until we reach our deathbed. But Pressfield says we are never without the power to alter our destiny. “This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Qualities that distinguish the pro

In his chapters on combating resistance, Pressfield covers turning pro which means, among other things, to show up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day, master the techniques of our job and receive praise or blame in the real world. He discusses the qualities of a professional such as acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses, preparing, not showing off and not hesitating to ask for help. It’s tough advice but turning pro requires discipline and self mastery.

Know the territory

An intriguing concept that Pressfield deals with in some length is that of territory and hierarchy. In a hierarchical orientation an individual competes against others, measures her achievement by rank within the hierarchy and acts for others. The artist, or creator, can’t look for others to evaluate her work. The artist or creator needs to operate territorially which means “he must do his work for its own sake”. Working in the territory, gives birth to the artist’s original creation that add to our lives, regardless of the obstacles faced.

Even though some of the advice can be daunting, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s not only for those who wish to get started on bringing whatever is important to them to life but also for those who work on projects for weeks, months or even years to bring their gifts to the world.