As Entrepreneurs, We Can All Learn From The Chance IKEA Is Taking
IKEA has opened a new concept in Manhattan. The new store isn’t your typical 200,000 SF SuperBox store, but rather a smaller footprint. You can imagine the main reason is that there’s no place in Manhattan to find the square footage needed for one of their stores. There are plenty of other reasons too, I may tap into a couple but that’s not really why we’re here.
The new concept is called “Ikea Planning Studio” and is detailed in this piece by Sanford Stein. The store is low on visible products and high on planning and planners with rooms that feel more like NYC apartments.
Quoting the good folks at Curbed:
Customers will be able to browse popular products and lines while also having access to IKEA experts (by online appointment) for help with designing spaces and planning projects. The best part for shoppers? All purchases made at the IKEA Planning Studio will be conveniently delivered (for a cost) to the customer’s home.
The vision IKEA is executing is a blueprint for small business innovation
Those of you who read my articles regularly are probably wondering where the heck I’m going with this. Truth is, until this morning I wasn’t sure. IKEA gave me the bridge to bring two ideas together. What’s happening is that instead of waiting around, IKEA is taking a chance, a bold chance.
I really like the chance they’re taking, and I will weave it into small business in a bit … give me just a few more lines about IKEA.
What I really like about this effort is that it’s being touted as a concept while in reality, you could call it a pivot. Many IKEA customers rent cars to visit the stores and gripe along the way because of small rental cars and large products to lug home. I read somewhere too that many IKEA customers live in urban areas, making this pivot look even cooler.
Think about the switch. You take the train to IKEA, talk to a planner, browse products interactively (their augmented reality tools are awesome: IKEA AR) and everything shows up at your door. Dig this, a bit ago they acquired TaskRabbit, so you can have someone show up and handle the assembly and install too.
Bravo, IKEA, bravo!
Concept – Cool
Pivot – Yes
Risky – Yes
Do I Like It – Heck Yeah
I can’t say whether they’ll succeed or not, that’s not what this is about. I don’t pretend to know IKEA’s true motivation for the small concept. Outside looking in, it appears they are watching trends, chasing the data, rolling the dice and innovating – all lessons we can learn. They appear to be challenging the trend that has retailers closing at an ever-increasing rate and at the same time using the tech and convenience that we all love to (ideally) make it all work.
Think Like IKEA, Take a Chance or Two
This morning as I caught up on the opening in Manhattan, I asked myself the following: Am I doing enough to challenge the status quo and move the business forward?
My best answer was “maybe” and it frustrated me. I set out to find a better answer or make changes. The good news is that after some research we are doing a fair amount. Please know too that I didn’t make anyone on the team miserable in finding out. It was simply a matter of stepping back and evaluating a few things. (Bonus Reading: Make the Most of Your Ideas)
What follows are some ideas, a prescription if you will, to ensure things are moving forward.
The 20 Ideas List
My first stop was to check in on the ideas list. This list tracks everything we think could work. Having such a list has enabled me to focus on the business at hand while having an eye on the future. By checking the list, I found out that we have 2 active products on the list and one that’s being considered in July.
The reason I like the 20 ideas list so much is that it enables me to generate and keep ideas without burdening the team to work on every crazy idea I come up with.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell. Every 90 days (or change for your needs) pick a new idea, spend time and money developing the idea and bring it to your existing clients in a free beta. They’ll give you the feedback you need to decide whether you have a winner or a loser.
Get Out of Your Way
I mean this in the best possible way – Back Up! I know you’re busy, heck I’m busy. Do you know that as the boss and even more as the owner, you are often the greatest impediment to launching new ideas, products and services?
This morning I asked myself if I was unnecessarily getting in the way of innovation. For those of you reading this as odd, trust me, it feels odd to ask if I’m in the way. It’s because generally, as the boss, we think we need to push for innovation. My advice; get out of your way and theirs.
Given the chance, your team will blow you away with their creativity.
Good news, I realized that I am indeed giving room to innovate.
Roll the Dice
Take a step into the time machine to the day you started your business. Were you afraid? Was there risk? The answer to both is likely yes. There was something else there too. What was it? Passion? Determination? Commitment? Those last few outweighed the first; otherwise, you never would have started the business.
The quick moral here is that we often take fewer risks as our businesses grow. One of my mantras in 2019 is “let’s get back to the garage”. We never worked in a garage but “get back to the coffee shop” doesn’t resonate nearly as well.
Make It Measurable
If you’re planning to evolve forward, make sure there are clear expectations and a measurement of success. Think about it this way – if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever know if you’ve gotten there?
I had one product team recently tell me “Well, we’re going to start selling it and we’ll know”. I explained to them very respectfully that I thought they would fail. After many crossed looks, we arrived at some Goals (big picture) and associated Objectives (the money measurement with time).
They felt better and now everything they’re working on has a specific target.
Thank you IKEA, today I am studying the market and the data plus my 20 ideas list to make sure we don’t become a dinosaur.
As I wrap this up, I want to thank the innovators at IKEA. You’ve given me a good reason to share some ideas and reflect on our progress toward innovation. I wish you the best as you push forward on this concept. I’ll keep watching your progress for additional lessons to learn and share.
For the record, I realize they have the money and borrowing power to make a bold move seem easier to an outsider. Without launching into the what and why a small business can also afford to innovate, it’s just a question of managing scale.
Recommended for you: 4 Simple Ways To Scale A Startup In An Increasingly Expensive World
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