Creative emulation is the art of studying effective techniques from companies outside your industry and adapting variations to your own business. Joseph Lukacs, founder of International Performance Group, a Bridgewater, New Jersey, service that offers private business coaching to professionals, CEOs, business owners and financial service professionals, suggests that entrepreneurs seeking ways to increase their problem-solving skills use creative emulation as a starting point.
"When you see an innovative concept being used in any industry, ask yourself, `How can I use this concept in my business?' If you go outside your industry for ideas and are the first to implement them within your industry, you'll gain a decided marketplace advantage," he says.
Lukacs worked with a client who owned a car-cleaning service targeted to executives. Ongoing business was hard to come by because clients called for cleaning appointments when and if they remembered. For solutions, Lukacs looked to a successful dog groomer--who always had a waiting list of clients--because he used several simple, yet effective, ways to encourage repeat business:
1. He sold his service by monthly subscription.
2. He automatically charged his clients' credit cards at the beginning of each month.
3. He made a standing monthly appointment for each client.
By emulating the dog groomer's tricks, the executive car-cleaning service locked in sales it could count on.
Jeanne Lewin, 894 St. Andrews Way, Frankfort, IL 60423, (800) 655-3344, firstname.lastname@example.org
RAB Inc., P.O. Box 5805, Athens, GA 30604, (706) 353-3387, email@example.com
Mark Sanborn, c/o Sanborn & Associates Inc., 695 Colorado Blvd., #415, Denver, CO 80246, (800) 650-3343, http://www.marksanborn.com
Skinny Dog Publishing, 123 Tamarack Ct., Torrington, CT 06790, (860) 489-5464
University of Connecticut, Connecticut Small Business Development Center, 2 Bourn Pl., Ste. U-94, Storrs, CT 06269-5094, (860) 486-4135