Author Archive

Joe Carter, Xavier UniversityNetworking is so very important.  Has anyone referred you to another person because they think you might have mutual interests and there might be a deeper reason for you need to connect with that person? That happened to me a few weeks ago.  Jeff Weedman, the CEO of Cintrifuse, suggested that I might be interested in meeting Dr. Victor Garcia, a pediatric surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  Jeff described some of the Dr. Garcia’s projects to combat concentrated systemic poverty and thought we should connect.  I immediately knew I needed to meet Dr. Garcia and thought a friend of mine, Owen Raisch (who recently launched the Greater Cincinnati Independent Business Alliance – CiNBA) should meet him as well.   CiNBA is an organization dedicated to building and supporting a strong local business community in Greater Cincinnati. One of Dr. Garcia’s projects included launching new businesses, so this is right on the money for Xavier University‘s and CiNBA’s missions.

Dr. Garcia described a new business venture he is developing with Dan Divelbiss, an environmental engineering graduate student from the University of Cincinnati, and Nate Wildes, an Assistant Brand Manager at the Eureka! Ranch International.  The new venture is an aquaponics business – think a fish tank that grows both fish and vegetables in one integrated, soilless system –  to be launched in Price Hill.  Dr. Garcia, Dan and Nate are collaborating with Diana Vakharia, Price Hill’s Director of Economic Development, on this project.  Diana happens to be a member of the core team that launched CiNBA.  Diana’s goal is to help launch an aquaponics business in Price Hill, so they can hire about 20 people from Price Hill to run the business, and then transition the business into an employee-owned operation.  Diana’s focus  helps create jobs and long-term wealth for the people of Price Hill using a model of economic development created by The Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland, Ohio

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Is one of your primary goals as a new business owner to “satisfy” your targeted customers?  Well, if it is you are probably headed for disaster because as it turns out merely “satisfied customers” generally don’t come back to make repeat purchases.  According to a Harvard Graduate School study “62% of supposedly “satisfied customers” do not repurchase from the same source” (Kick-Ass Business and Marketing Secrets: How to Blitz Competition, Bob Pritchard).  So after all the hard work and funding you invested to acquire a group of targeted customers there is a high probability that over half of them will seek other sources of supply on future purchases.  So, what are the primary reasons that “satisfied customers” seek other sources and what can you do about it?

As is the case with many situations within the business environment there is usually an 80 / 20 cause and effect relationship to consider.  According to a Rockefeller Institute study the following are the primary reasons that customers switch sources of supply: 9% are attracted by competitors; 14% leave because they are dissatisfied; a whopping 68% of customers switch because they think the company they buy from doesn’t care about them.  So, the most significant problem isn’t that companies supply poor products and services, it’s that they are at best indifferent about customer service.  Think about it for a minute.  If approximately 62 out of 100 customers switch sources of supply and 68% of those that switch do so because they think you don’t care about them, then that means 42 (62 x 68% = 42) out of 100 customers that you acquire might purchase from someone else next time.  Can you afford to let that happen?  Once you do the math of how much profitable growth the 42 out of 100 customers represent you might want to re-consider the type of relationship you have with your customers.  Just think if you could retain even half of the 42 that might leave you.

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Intention Precedes Results

Posted: November 6, 2011 by Joseph Carter in Innovation, People, Planning

Do aspiring or experienced entrepreneurs ever allow obstacles to remain a barrier to the achievement of their goals?  Some do.  Why is it that some entrepreneurs always seem to find a way around, over, or through the obstacles they face and other entrepreneurs allow the obstacles to remain a constant source of torment to them?  Some suggest that the answer lies in how an entrepreneur chooses to perceive their situation.

About five years ago I was a member of a thirty-person internal operations consulting practice within a $10 billion global industrial manufacturer and service provider company.  Our role as internal consultants was to partner with specific business-unit leaders within the company and help them identify and implement improvements to their operations.  Every quarter the leader of our consulting practice would pull all thirty of us together for about a week to review the status of our projects, to share best practices, and to go through some workshops to improve our effectiveness as consultants.  One of the workshops we went through was led by Scott Sink, PhD., the author of, among other books and articles, “By What Method”.  The topics of the workshop were “intention” and “at-cause” / “at-effect” mental stances.  What I learned about myself in this particular workshop changed my perspective on how I view barriers to goal achievement.  I want to share what happened in that workshop in the hope that you might reconsider how you view the barriers that limit your success.

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There Really Are No New Ideas In the World

Posted: September 25, 2011 by Joseph Carter in Innovation, Startup

There Really Are No New Ideas In the World

How do entrepreneurs create ideas for successful new business ventures?  Were they born with some special component within their DNA that enables them to be more creative and resourceful than others?  John Kord Murray, an aerospace engineer that founded multiple new ventures and later became the head of innovation at Intuit, says no.  He asserts that the ability to be creative is a learned process and that “anyone can master it in order to build successful business innovations.” In his book, Borrowing Brilliance, The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others, he outlines the process that anyone can use to create new business opportunities.   Below is a brief overview of the concepts outlined in Murray’s book.  It is my hope that you consider becoming more familiar with Murray’s process as a means to create and launch new business ventures in our region.

Defining.  Define the problem you are trying to solve.  “A problem is the foundation of a creative idea”. Successful entrepreneurs (both for-profit and not-for-profit entrepreneurs) are effective at identifying, prioritizing, and solving problems that are important to current and / or future targeted customers.   When they focus on a problem they do so realizing that problems have multiple layers of causes.  They dig to find the “root-cause” to the problem they are focusing on because they realize this is where a potential business idea will surface.   To identify the specific root-cause to a problem they simply ask, “Why”?  Murray indicates that answering the question of “Why?” five times surfaces the root cause to almost any problem.

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