This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.
Venture capitalists hear lots of good ideas. The challenge is turning those ideas into businesses that generate profits. Building a successful business requires a combination of creativity and implementation.
If you’ve ever had any sales or management training, you know that one of the key strategies taught is understanding personality types. As a business owner, you need to be able to recognize two personalities in order to be effective at turning ideas into profits: the creative visionary type, who is always brimming with ideas but never seems to be able to take them any further, and the realization type, who may lack the ability to think creatively but knows how to make things happen. These personalities can complement each other perfectly when given the right environment and opportunity to work together. If you can find both personalities among your company’s leadership or staff, you’ve got that magic combination of innovation and execution that every business needs to succeed.
Cultivate strengths. By supporting the talents of each of these personality types, you can harness ideas and processes that will help your business stay competitive and fresh in the marketplace. For example, many creative types come up with their best ideas when they’re alone and free from distractions, so assigning them to work as part of a group may actually lower their productivity.
Harvest ideas. You know how all those brilliant ideas that only seem to happen during your morning shower are lost forever unless you write them down right away? Creative personality types are notorious for having so many ideas that most of them never see the light of day because there wasn’t an opportunity to communicate them. Capture your staff’s ideas by providing an outlet where the ideas can be recorded–an idea board. If you think it will increase participation, allow them the option to post ideas anonymously.
Stimulate ideas to develop. When choosing the area to place the idea board, pick one that’s frequently visited, promotes open discourse, and has an atmosphere where staff feel relaxed (since pressure stifles creativity), such as the break room. A large dry erase board, chalkboard or flip chart will not only provide plenty of space and ease for the creative personality types to record concepts, but the realization types are now able to see those ideas. Bringing them together could generate spontaneous discussions about feasibility, pros/cons and implementation issues, which help the ideas evolve into tangible actions.
Offer a forum to communicate ideas to management. How many great ideas don’t get implemented because they have to fight their way through a web of bureaucracy in order to get heard by the people who have the power to put them into practice? Unless management has the opportunity to hear them, all those ideas will never leave the break room. Whatever the size of your business, you probably already have regular meetings with your staff, the leadership team or your board of directors. Add a segment to the agenda where your staff can present their ideas.
Collaborate online. Implementing software that allows employees to openly communicate their thoughts and discuss ideas with even the highest level of management, is an effective way of collaborating in real-time. Brilliant ideas won’t get lost and the amount of sharing is unlimited. Try a company-focused social network or similar application to bring life to your workplace.
You probably already know the people in your business who can help you turn ideas into profits, you just need to make it easier for them to do it.