Presenting a new concept that you or a small team created to help the business improve is incredibly exciting, nerve wracking, as well as potentially risky. Consider these tips to have success when pitching a business improvement concept: have a solid idea, test the idea around the organization, have a pilot program success, and build internal support. Entrepreneurs inside companies, or intrapreneurs, are a key component of a company’s success.
Here are six tips for creating a business improvement pitch:
- Clearly define the problem from the customer’s perspective. The very first and usually most difficult step to an internal business improvement idea is to determine what the problem is or is not. Rather than looking at problems inside the company, take a perspective of the company’s customers and identify problems that customers see with your products, services, or both. In other words, define the problem from the customer’s perspective. This customer driven perspective can be supplemented with customer survey material, customer comments, and trade / industry journal assessments presents a powerful and external perspective to define the problem.
- Research what competitors are doing. The next step after a clear problem identification emerges is to determine what competitors, both direct and indirect, are doing to help solve and / or mitigate this problem for your customers. Are new products emerging for your customers to help them solve the problems that your products cannot solve? In addition, pay close attention to indirect competitors because they may be able to bring a concept or a solution from another industry that will quickly disrupt your current business and they may steal your customers.
- What are the financial effects if this problem is not fixed. Using information from customers and observations from competitors, what are the potential financial, customer, and other impacts to the company? Will the company lose revenue and at what rate over time? Will a new product under design be obsolete when it is released? Will a smaller competitor enter and take your most profitable customers? Calculating financial effects is difficult so presenting executives with a best case, moderate case, and worst-case modeling of the financial effects with the accompanying assumptions is better than presenting a single number.
- What are three ways this problem could be mitigated or solved? Determine three ways that a business problem can be solved is a business planning step that demonstrates great insight into how the company operates, what customers will need, and what the competition will or will not do to compete. Again, as with the financial model, each potential solution must show the cost on an ongoing basis, any startup costs, and then demonstrate how it will improve the product, the customer experience, and have positive financial effects for the company. Developing three independent solutions demonstrates that multiple solutions exist for the business problem and it will achieve the effects required for the success of the company.
- How can the potential solution(s) be tested to ensure they work? We all love President Ronald Reagan’s quote of, “Trust, But Verify.” The exact same goes for testing a business improvement idea – never assume that a solution will work as intended without testing, refinement, internal feedback, and customer feedback. Testing a potential solution also validates the financial cost of the improvement, confirms how much of the problem was resolved, and gathers customer feedback on the improvement. Most importantly, there must be well defined, recorded, and independent performance measures that can evaluate the performance of each pilot performed. No one should have to guess which pilot was the most successful. A project that has not validated costs, the problem resolution performance, and what customers think of the solution will have a very difficult time going forward without testing.
- What is necessary to get started? Finally, what will the full costs be to the company, what is the startup plan, do employees need to be trained or hired to fully implement the business improvement idea. This plan is vital to have completed because the worst case is that your problem definition, solution, and financial resolution is accepted and then you have no implementation plan. Implementation plans must have ongoing performance measures to follow to ensure that the business improvement project is successful on a long and a short term.
Consider these tips to have success when pitching a business improvement concept: have a solid idea, test the idea around the organization, have a pilot program success, and build internal support. Entrepreneurs inside companies, or intrapreneurs, are a key component of a company’s success.
Share some of your ideas how to pitch a business improvement at work!
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Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 110 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com.