How Apples Can Save Your Business From Bankruptcy
I bet you thought I was mental when you first read the title of this post. Perhaps I am… a bit. Keeps life fun! But actually, the truth is not that far behind on this creative strategy example I have…
Four years ago when I lived in the Jordaan, a famous and beautiful neighborhood in the centre of Amsterdam, I often made my pitstop at this little vintage record shop where I could browse through their thousands of 50′s & 60′s records for hours. The owner was a pure fanatic and had sold his soul to this pretty and dusty shop. I didn’t purchase a lot but he was okay with that. One day when we had a chat he said he could barely get by financially, but his love and passion for his shop kept him afloat. Then in 2008, the bloody recession kicked in! My heart sank when I thought of him and his little analog empire, especially when I noticed that other shops in the same street crumbled into bankruptcy. 6 months into the recession I decided to drop by to see what had become of the shop and felt tense when I entered the street.
As I approached the shop there was a lot of livelihood going on in front of it. I remembered he used to expose numerous cheap records at the entrance, but those never really sold. It couldn’t be that. I parked my bike and walked up to the crowd, which seemed to be a waiting line starting outside the shop right up to the counter in the back! I was flabbergasted and quickly needed some serious explanation. Most people in line held a plastic bag in their hands which contained… apples! The porch of his shop now exposed red apples in crates instead of the crappy records. I guess I must have overlooked them.
This creative strategy example gave me a big smile that slowly started to dominate my entire face. The joy I got made me stay for hours on straight again and I browsed new records like I’d never left. Then, when the crowd disolved I walked up to him and asked ‘apples?!’ He laughed out loud holding a smelly unlit cigar. ‘Good to see you again!’ he said. ‘You know, these apples generate over half of my income now. Without them I wouldn’t be here’. He explained further and revealed the success of the apples. He always maintained a very social customer-client relation and he discovered that many of his customers complained about the lack of fruit in the neighborhood. The nearest grocery store was too far of walking distance. Being on the brink, he then took a bold step and contacted an acquainted biological farmer and the rest is history. He now even sells jam!
So, how can we use his creative strategy example to extract a few learnings from it? It clearly shows that thinking out of your comfort zone adds up for it! It also stresses the importance of creativity in business.
Firstly, let this example be an inspiration for your own particular situation. There are a lot of experts out there that can advise, but remember that you own valuable in dept knowledge of your business, right from it’s inception until present day. You have a good view on the market it lives in, you know the details. What would happen if you expand your view a little more? Do some research by asking people what they think when using your business. Ask them openly what they miss, let them be frank. Not only what they miss in the business you offer, but also what they miss in the neighborhood. Talk of topic, some call it chit chat. If you’re in an online business ask them the same, but then of course focused on their digital neighborhood.
Secondly, make a list of the things people mentioned. It’s good to have things on there that people need every day, like food, drinks, cosmetics, transport, etc. Don’t forget to also put the strange things on there. They help you in getting the unexpected smart solutions. Then meet up with a few friend in a pub and talk them through, as an informal brainstorm. Now link the things people mentioned together. This will create weird and unusual mashups. Laugh as much as you want about it, think weird, be weird and go on until it hits you! What will hit you? The solution! More than one even. You will recognize them quickly as they will trigger your emotional senses. You will be like ‘Wait a minute, this is it!’ It is the best feeling there is. Especially if it involves that precious thing you’ve put your heart in: your own business.
There is no doubt that the importance of innovation in business is great and therefore also the importance of creativity in business. If you have found an idea to revamp your business, make sure to test it before you spend time and money to realize it. Read my post on how to test the greatness of your idea for more tips and inspiration.