Think Like a Business Swami: Innovate to Create Success

Originally, this factoid came to me as "thinking outside the box" but that term is seriously outdated; definitely not up to the futuristic predictive standards of this see-r, otherwise known as me, the Psychic Chic.  Also, many of us. these lean days, are going box-less. We are recycling paper and plastic bags, and preparing a shopping list for our next visit to the 99-cent store (now $1, by the way, but still awfully good for party favors; they do not offer boxes). So more of us are now thinking outside the bag! And I predict (wearing my psychic hat) those who are able to come up with low-cost, creative, bold ideas will succeed, despite the odds.

Seriously, kids, all that woe-is-me talk, incessantly circulating through the air waves, is solely for the down-trodden. And that does not include you and me. We're on the path to success, each and every one of us!  If you haven't started down that road yet, especially where it concerns your job or your business, or you've hit a pot-hole,  what better way to jump start visions of your future than to review the concepts behind some recent, low-cost business successes? The Business Swami led me to some striking examples of what innovation can accomplish, when push comes to shove and shove comes to can-do.  Breaking-the-mold, daring to be daringly different, and pledging to maintain quality - that's the new business model for today.  Here are three business models to consider.

The business of food: Kogi Korean Barbecue-to-go Taco truck: Brand new as we speak (Nov 2008), the creators of this LA-based. taco truck business have taken success to the streets. Their restaurant-on-wheels is a phenom, in and around Los Angeles.  And when you hit big in LA, you know you're onto something. Here's the low-down on this low-cost, low maintenance, highly creative idea, which has spawned a huge networking fan base in LA. Several months ago, with a small amount of start-up cash and a borrowed truck, three partners, experienced in the food and catering business came up with an idea to combine Korean BBQ and ordinary tacos. The partners eliminated the need to lease and design a restaurant,with all the expenses that incurs. They opted to sell from a roving truck. This eliminated labor expenses  - no hostess, cooks or wait staff.  The partners simply and creatively updated the accepted idea popular taco trucks, already circulating in LA, by adding an innovative twist. The Kogi Korean Barbecue-to-go  tacos regularly attract 200-400 people, or more, at each location they visit. Many stand in line for two hours or more to order. This is more than "eating out" - it's a live social event (network) where you can also experience, for a reasonable price, something  tasty and unique.   You can choose from a menu of Korean barbecue-inspired dishes - including short-ribs, pork and/or tofu, with Korean spicing. To keep things interesting, there's a daily special. This concept is so popular, the truck often sells out before the last people in the long lines can reach the front. There's so much buzz and clamor for these tacos, the partners are thinking about opening a spot at the Farmer's Market. But they pledge to go slowly;  they don't want to grow too fast and sacrifice quality. Kudos to Kogi: for cutting overhead to a bare minimum, while maintaining a unique brand of high-quality food. They've been able to generate massive word-of-mouth advertising (check out Youtube for a look-see and Twitter for constant updates on Truck locations). This new style "to go" dining is a hot topic on the news and on the net. Creative thinking to the max.  You can't pay for that.

The business of entertainment: The Flight of the Conchords, HBO TV series: Oh, those silly billies - Jermaine and Bret. I've been watching them for two  years now, as they gamely try to survive as musicians in New York City . Hailing from New Zealand, everything about them is comical, including their non-managing manager, their best friend, a pawn-shop owner, and their obsessed-stalker fan, who doesn't let marriage stop her from excessive fandom. Each half-hour program in this series features the continuing story line of the Conchords' adventures and mis-adventures, as well as some highly artful and funny music videos ( two PChicfavorites; the Robots and The Lord of the Rings).  The Conchords are not an overnight success story. They've been around since  2000; a very slow road to popularity.  But this year, the creators of the show and the duo hit their stride by creatively mixing a big dose of hard-times reality with gentle, sardonic wit and music. And how their innovation is succeeding! There is a great deal of positive buzz and critical acclaim since the second season started.   The secret of this entertainment  business success? A risky undertaking using a quirky, original cast and innovative productions that never strayfrom an optimistic outlook for the future. While the cost of these productions is probably more than a few drops in the bucket, we are not talking big movie-type budgets here. Creative Kudos: for conceiving an uplifting show that never preaches, but always entertains and delights with innovative use of animation, music, color. Not boring or predictable. A small price to pay for weekly episodes of mood-lifiting, positive thinking. (If you lack access to HBO, rent the first season DVD).

The business of politics and the politics of business: the reach of the world-wide web.  Who doesn't appreciate the global spread of the internet, especially where it concerns politics and business? After the Presidential campaign ended, both political parties grasped the impact and power of net-working.  As a result, local campaign volunteers quickly formed nationwide interest groups, based on everything from funding upcoming political campaigns to grass-roots neighborhood volunteering (volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, book drives for U.S. soldiers, etc). Members of these groups maintain contact with one another, and recruit new members, through the internet, but they also meet one on one.  Business networking is an outgrowth of these meetings, because the groups promote word-of-mouth referrals and brainstorming. Kudos to those skilled in high-tech areas who did not stop at the campaign gate, but kept on going. Now there are new opportunities for motivated volunteers, from across the political spectrum,  to work on and solve community problems. This creative approach to rekindling grass-roots involvement is designed to partner the private sector with the government. No government pay-out required.

These 3 success examples suggested by the Business Swami are insightful, because each example threw out the old rule books, dumped the tired business models, and invented fresh approaches to meet the demands of 2009.  Despite all the bad economic news, I believe it's easier to invent and innovate in tough times and to capture the right kind of public attention. You don't need to spend your way into the debt house to succeed.  In the next year, business innovators will show us a lot of great stuff, as they turn old ways of doing business into affordable new products and prospects. Watch to see what happens.


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