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The Door-To-Door Billionaire Daryl Harms knows how to turn dull businesses into big profits. But can he really do it with your garbage? - May 1, 2003
By Ed Welles
May 1, 2003

Harms spots trends sooner and bears down harder than most entrepreneurs--a combination that has made him wildly wealthy, if not exactly famous. But his next venture--more on that later-- just might transform him into a household name on the order of, say, Warren Buffett. Like Buffett, Daryl Harms, 51, patiently trolls for perfect businesses in which he can build long-term value via his Masada Resource Group, based in Birmingham. He hunts down overlooked opportunities that don't trade on trendy brand names or cutting-edge technologies...When selling cable service, Harms went block to block, zeroing in on houses with the tallest antennas. Other salesfolk reflexively bypassed such homes because they assumed that better reception wasn't an issue for them. Harms targeted those customers first. "I told them, 'I can see you stand tall. Of all the people on the street you understand the value of TV,' " he recalls saying. " 'If we put cable in, you can compare it with what you have now. If you don't like it, we'll come back and take it out.' " Such "influencers," in Harms's lingo, made it easier for him to convert whole blocks....Spurred by a poll that showed that 92% of Americans considered themselves "environmentalists," Harms and his employees spent a year studying the recycling market only to decide that the real money lay in garbage. From there they sought out the best ethanol conversion technology. Having found it--at the Tennessee Valley Authority--they worked for five years to tweak the science, an effort that has earned Masada 18 patents. "Today's risky business climate warrants thoroughness," Harms says..."The theme is that there is always a consumer need to be addressed," explains Wheeler. "People will always talk on the phone, watch television, and produce garbage."...Asking the right question, it seems, comes naturally to Harms. Entrepreneurs fail, he believes, because they "get too microscopic in their thinking. In business it's very easy to get the right answer to the wrong question." According to Wheeler, Harms failed to ask the right question when he set up a venture called Postron, which allowed cable TV subscribers to receive their bills via cable and print them out on a printer attached to their TVs. What Harms didn't ask, says Wheeler, was "whether consumers wanted another piece of hardware." They didn't...Harms finds customers where no one else thinks to look. When he started selling burglar alarms in 1985, he didn't target high-crime areas. Instead he identified places where the perception of vulnerability was greatest--which he determined by calculating how much space the local paper devoted to crime. The first cellphone license he sought was for a desolate stretch of highway between Lincoln and Omaha rather than in a major population center. Why? Because, as Page says, "what else were people going to do in their cars but talk on the phone?" Aside from overlooked customers, Harms seeks another component to every business: recurring revenue of roughly $25 a month per user. "That's a bite that most people can get used to paying," he reasons. For him it translates into healthy cash flow, which fosters predictability and enables a business to survive hard times. Besides, "the more reliable the cash flow, the higher a multiple of that cash flow you can get for your company," he notes.
asking_the_right_questions  cash_flows  consumer_needs  counterintuitive  entrepreneur  hard_times  hidden  latent  moguls  overlooked_opportunities  missed_opportunities  predictability  questions  subscriptions  thinking_big  trend_spotting  unglamorous  wide-framing 
november 2011 by jerryking
Wanted: culture of innovation
Sep.16, 2011 | G&M | Kevin Lynch & Munir Sheikh.
“Productivity isn’t everything,” P. Krugman once wrote in his NYT
column, “but in the long run it's almost everything.” Strange that, with
Canada’s poor productivity & innovation performance compared with
the U.S., that we remain complacent. Where’s our sense of urgency?
Innovation doesn’t occur in the abstract – corps. have to manage for it.
Successful innovation happens in 4 distinct areas. Product innovation:
The capacity to introduce new products & services ahead of
competitors, to anticipate consumer needs or even to create them. Mkt.
innovation: The capacity to decide to change its market, whether it’s
geographically, virtually or creatively. Process innovation: The
capacity to change how goods & services are produced and delivered
to reduce cost, improve efficiency and increase convenience for
customers. Org. innovation: The capacity to convert creativity, market
& customer knowledge & technology into marketable innovations.
innovation  productivity  Canadian  Canada  complacency  organizational_culture  organizational_innovation  urgency  Kevin_Lynch  taxonomy  Paul_Krugman  consumer_needs  process_innovation  process_improvements  product_innovation  product-orientated 
september 2011 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: Cracking the challenging European market
September 2, 2010 | Globe & Mail | CATHERINE McLEAN
Special to The Globe and Mail
A wide variety of languages, laws and consumer needs can be obstacles to
working across the pond. A Calgary maker of bicycle carts rides tandem
with a German partner, and gains valuable insights
bicycles  diversification  exporting  market_entry  Europe  consumer_needs 
september 2010 by jerryking

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