Sunday, 27 September 2009

Ask yourself this...

Is there any reason why YOU somehow haven't managed to access the Mind Map site, download Mind Manager and use this to summarise whichever Business or Economics topic you are revising?

Is there any reason why YOU are not working through the syllabus (which you have downloaded from the exam board website) and getting way ahead with the topics? As you know, doing this 'pre-revision' means classes merely reinforce what you already know rather than you just sitting like a lame duck waiting to be spoon-fed.

Is there any reason why YOU are not doing a D-A-I-L-Y B-L-O-G? (Not knowing what to blog about is no excuse)

Is there any reason why YOU are not regularly posting on other blogs, accessing the sites where ALL the notes exist (both AS and A2)?

Is there any reason why YOU are not making the most of your education and the motivation you receive?

Is there any reason why YOU have chosen not to follow up ideas that teach you something and give you the opportunity to make money?

Is there any reason why YOU are not regularly challenging yourself and trying to answer difficult questions?

Is there any reason why YOU are not taking advantage of small classes and by reading ahead, submitting work on a regular basis for marking, thus removing any weaknesses you may have owing to poor exam technique and/or poor English?

Is there any reason why YOU are not enrolling on free online thinking courses or (cheap) courses in Philosophy?

You may not know know the answer to the above but if you do then you also know why you're not going to this university or this one - ever.

Maybe you should just enrol on these and be done with it...(and if female, follow this plan)

The Pillar Article

Pillar articles on the surface appear to be standard blog articles, but for some special
reasons they become the main drivers of traffic to your blog.

They form the foundations - the pillars - of your blog.


There is no one particular reason that an article becomes a Pillar, rather it's the RESULTS you get from the article that qualify it as a Pillar.

A Pillar article will perform the following key functions for your blog -

1. Bring in a flood of traffic when first released.

This is often the result people linking to or trackbacking your article and generating a little bit of "buzz" around the blogosphere (other blogs).

2. Provide a definition of a key term, an answer to a commonly asked question, or a brief how-to tutorial.

The article's value is not time dependent, you can refer to it in future blog posts, other bloggers will link to it and refer people to it over and over again.

A Pillar provides timeless information, not news or personal blogging - it's relevant to a wide audience for a long period of time.

3. The traffic keeps coming long after the article is archived deep within your blog.

Often because of reason one above (lots of incoming links to the article) a Pillar article
will rank well in search engines and consequently show up on the first page of searches, directing brand new readers to your blog long after you first published the article.

4. Provides a reason to bookmark and/or subscribe to your blog (and RSS feed).

When a first time reader comes to your blog and they see all the fantastic content they are much more likely to bookmark your site for further reading later. They will start monitoring your blog regularly, transforming from casual random surfer into loyal reader because they can see the quality of your previous work.


Don't get confused between a Pillar and a "Spike".

A Spike article is all about a quick rush of traffic that often disappears within a day or two and has very little long lasting impact. Pillars are timeless, Spikes are temporary.

One of the tricks is knowing how to convert a Spike into a Pillar.

Without Pillar articles most other traffic building techniques fail. If you don't have
Pillars in place most traffic techniques you implement will be Spikes, maybe generating a rush of traffic for brief bursts but very quickly dropping back to where you were previously.

You won't convert first time visitors into regular readers, which is a critical outcome for the long term success of your blog.


A well constructed blog, one that follows a traffic building methodology, will retain an
audience long after the blogger stops writing.

This has many positive outcomes, including -

A) You can stop blogging for a week or two without worrying about losing your audience. This means less stress and a more solid blog foundation.

B) The resale value of your blog will be higher because it's value and popularity are based on the EXISTING content, not the potential future content that evaporates when the blogger stops blogging after the sale. It's more about the blog and less about the personality behind the blog.

(Although personality is still very important - more on this in future email newsletters.)

If you liked this introduction to the concept of Pillar Articles and want to know exactly how you can create Pillars for your blog, continue now by reading this article -

How To Write Great Blog Content - The Pillar Article

Homwork for Pre-IB

By now you should have:

a. Read through the details sent to you before the Business course started. Also visited all the various websites listed.

2. Read through the 2 x 30 day businesses ideas, the Business Studies e-book, the ideas e-book and the Lifestyle book. (If anyomne hasn't got them then ask Stella)

3. Read through the notes given out especially the business plan.

4. Analysed the accounts

5. Written a daily - or twice daily - blog detailing your progress

6. Read at least one, maybe 3-4 of the books given out - and reviewed them in your blog

7. Listened to some of the audio CDs and learned how millionaires made their money

8. Read the posts on this site which detail how people younger than you are making millions....

9. Followed through the numerous ideas I have posted you

10. Developed the business plan for the Stationery Suppliers and also for the IB Resources

At the beginning I asked how many wanted to earn £000s a week. You all expressed surprise that this could be done. I replied that only rarely do people put in the initial many of you have done EVERYTHING as outlined above?


Nice to see an ex-pupil of mine making some money....

From Wikipedia...

Dallaglio was born in Shepherd's Bush, London. He was educated at King's House School in Richmond and at Ampleforth College, one of the leading Catholic boarding schools in England, where he was affectionately known as "Del Boy", (though he actually attained his A-levels at The Oxford School of Learning), and at Kingston University.

In 1985, as a 13-year-old chorister in the King's House School choir, Dallaglio and 20 other choristers sang backing vocals on the song "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner. This only became known in 2005, when the Musicians' Union, having realised that the choristers had not been paid royalties on the record, attempted to track them down. As part of the same choir, Dallaglio sang at the wedding of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber [2].

Because Dallaglio's father, Vincenzo, is Italian, and his mother, Eileen, was half Irish, [3], he was eligible to play for both Italy and Ireland, as well as England, and in the early 1990s he turned down an invitation to play for Ireland. [4]

His sister Francesca, a 19-year-old student ballerina, died in the Marchioness disaster in 1989.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Business Videos

'Mr X' - His First Video Interview

What can you learn from someone who's been in business twenty-five years, and made as much as $100,000 a month in profit?

Well, until now - this 'Mr X' has been behind the scenes in a number of successful businesses. But he's finally breaking his silence and has recorded a 48 minute video interview where he talks through the business successes of the last 25 years:

Subject: What I learnt From 25 Years As An Entrepreneur

Speaker: 'Mr X'

Length: 48 Minutes

Click To View

X10 Seminar Videos

The X10 Seminar (Times Ten Seminar) was held in Australia a couple of years ago. And - the DVD recordings of this seminar have since been published, and they were NOT cheap.

However, much of this content has now been released for free. There's over 13 hours of seminar coaching right here, and people who attended the seminar agree that it was one of the most content rich seminars they'd ever attended.

Subject: Introduction to seminar

Speaker: Simon Chen

Length: 6 min

Click To View

Subject: Affiliate Marketing

Speaker: Paul Colligan

Length: 1 hr 32 min

Click To View

Subject: Networking Strategies

Speaker: Alex Mandossian

Length: 45 min

Click To View

Subject: Web Conversion

Speaker: Alex Mandossian

Length: 38 min

Click To View

Subject: Web Copy

Speaker: Alex Mandossian

Length: 1 hr 9 min

Click To View

Subject: Digital Product Creation

Speaker: Armand Morin

Length: 1 hr 16 min

Click To View

Subject: Free Search Engine Traffic

Speaker: Ken Giddens

Length: 1 hr 4 min

Click To View

Subject: Google Adwords

Speaker: Perry Marshall

Length: 1 hr 56 min

Click To View

Subject: Email Marketing

Speaker: Declan Dunn

Length: 1 hr 16 min

Click To View

Be free from fear

Help yourself....

Friday, 25 September 2009

More money making advice...

There are literally thousands of ebooks, courses, membership sites, other information products and mentoring programs you can purchase that all propose to teach you a system for making money online. Here are some example business models to choose from…

  • You might learn how to set up mini sites to tap into small but lucrative niches using the power of long tail search engine optimization and then make money with advertising and/or affiliate and CPA offers
  • You can master Pay Per Click and then arbitrage your traffic budget to sell affiliate products or CPA offers to the point where every dollar you spend buying traffic returns more than a dollar in revenue, or sell your own products
  • You can enter the multi-million dollar marketplace that is eBay and carve out your own niche there
  • You could give e-commerce a shot and set up your own online store
  • Perhaps e-books is the best model for you
  • Or of course, you can enter the blogosphere and attempt to become a professional blogger

All these systems are taught by various people who, in most cases, have already figured out how to make money using a certain technology or method or system, and now offer to teach that same system to others.

Unfortunately, most people who take training programs that teach how to make money, don’t. I’ve gone into detail regarding why this is in many posts, but for the sake of simplicity it’s safe to say the biggest problem is not the system, but the person who’s trying to use it.

It might look like lack of tech skills, or tough competition, or poor execution, or any number of on-the-surface reasons why people fail, but in the end most challenges can be overcome, most people just don’t try hard enough.

If you look deeper, the reason why most people don’t try hard enough could be all kinds of things, but usually it’s simply a mindset issue. Motivation, a willingness to learn new things, take action and never give up stem from how you think, so if you can get on top of that you’ve won the biggest battle. The rest of the equation is simply a process of testing and tweaking until you find out what really “floats your boat” creatively and gives you rewards intrinsically.

But I digress, this is not meant to be a motivational piece on mindset (or maybe it is…). If you want help in that area, read this – How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up, and this How To Become Comfortable With Yourself.

The fact is, there are systems out there that have proven to work and there are people who explain how these systems work. The information is available, all you need to do is commit to a plan of action to execute the system.

It can take some work to spot the frauds, especially because they often have the best marketing, but since you’re reading my blog you’ve already been guided to a handful of resources that are run by people who walk their talk and are actually teaching what works. There are no guarantees, and ultimately you won’t know until you try, but I do guarantee that taking action will always benefit you in some way, even if you never make a cent. Each system that doesn’t work for you takes you closer to one that does.

My advice is to do three things first if you’re looking to start a new online business with the goal of developing a stable online income stream -

  1. Do some research into the programs available that propose to teach you how to make money online
  2. Pick the program that best matches you in terms of what you want to learn how to do, how it is taught, who is teaching it and of course, listen to your intuition too (make decisions based on the people involved, the teacher for sure, but also past students – you should be able to find lots of commentary online if the program is any good)
  3. Commit yourself to learning and executing what is taught over a period of at least three months, preferably more time – even up to a year

And as a fourth step, presuming the first three steps work, you can then outsource the implementation of the system to others, who either maintain and grow what you have done already, or replicate it in other niches.

I do recommend you go through a new system once yourself before outsourcing it entirely as it helps to really know how something works before you have others do it for you. Outsourcing is a great way to make a business much less labor intensive and create truly passive or very near passive income streams, but for most people this is a process of learning, then doing it yourself, then handing it over to others.

There’s a key point of distinction that needs to be made here when comparing say starting a consulting client-based type business and then hiring people to take it over, verses buying a training program and then having other people take it over. The training program you choose to implement will be a much better business model when it comes to making it hands off for you.

All the systems I listed above have the potential to become very hands-off, whether it’s because they take very little time to manage (like spending a couple of hours a day writing a blog post), or can be given to others to do (for example having assistants do market research and set up websites and write articles in niches for you).

Consulting and service based businesses often depend on a specialized skill that can’t be outsourced, are very time consuming to do or have very little potential for leverage. If you choose the right online business model then you will have a much greater potential to make a lot more money and work a lot less.

While the promise of quick riches is usually a ploy for scammers to get you to part with your money, there are some great training resources online, many of which cost under $50, that will teach you some fundamental skills that can, in time, make you a very significant amount of money, which can even become passive income if you follow through long enough.

Here’s a few resources you might want to begin your research with -

And when you’re ready to begin outsourcing and systematizing your business…

Some Additional Options If You’re Really Creative

If you’re not in a position to purchase a website asset and you don’t like the idea of following someone else’s system, then you can always go it alone and attempt to create a business from scratch by yourself.

There are many stories of successful online entrepreneurs who figured it out without buying any training programs or doing any formal study. In most cases the reason why these people succeed is passion. They’re prepared to keep throwing things out there again and again until something sticks. Along the way they learn a lot and assuming they eventually come across a winner with the right business model, can become financially independent.

There are a lot of traps along the way with this path – and trust me on this one as I’ve walked this path for most of my business life too. Only in the more recent years was I wise enough to invest some money into training programs. The consequences of this is a much longer learning curve, often plenty of wasted time and some failed projects. The plus side is, when you do find what works, you can become a true expert as you’ve done your time and lived the experience, rather than just studied what someone else did.

That’s the core reason why my blog is successful and in some cases, this might be the best path for you. If you want to read my own story regarding why my blog is successful and what ingredients you need if you want success building something yourself, read this – Sometimes You Have To Reinvent The Wheel.

To end with, here are some ideas you can go after if you decide you want to build something yourself -

  • Like the case with my friends who I had the meeting with, they posses strong programming skills and definitely some entrepreneurial motivation, which leads to constantly coming up with ideas for scripts and community sites. The challenge is picking the right ideas to chase, especially if you’ve never started a software based company before. If it works, it can be very lucrative as an online business start-up (the truly big ideas like Facebook, eBay and Twitter all start as ideas for clever software services in the mind of some entrepreneur).
  • You can attempt to leverage existing or emerging trends. For example, in recent months the market for iPhone applications has been huge. All it takes is one good idea and the drive to turn it into reality and you can be in quickly as a new emerging technology or trend takes hold.
  • You could have a great idea for a service or script or community site, and you even have the know-how to put it together, but you lack audience. This is the number one start-up killer, as many people are full of clever ideas but have no marketing acumen whatsoever. Ideas are great, but if you don’t have distribution, you won’t make money, so you need a way to get in front of people. One way to do so, is partner with people who have an audience. For example, if you have a great idea for a software application for stock investors you can look for people who currently market to them, and then partner with them. They bring distribution (access to people), you bring the idea.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Many pre-IB are under 18....

So were many of these....

Bigger Feet

A 16-year-old entrepreneur in the media glare, Oliver Bridge is keeping his feet on the ground

Black Circles

Michael Welch's tyre firm got his big name rivals into a spin while he was barely into his 20s. He tells us how he did it

Dominic McVey

The entrepreneurial whizz-kid talks to about his amazing rise to success.

Fat Face

Jukes Leaver & Tim Slade started off selling t-shirts at ski resorts, now they're turning over £25 million

Liam Rhodes

One of the UK's youngest company directors, Liam Rhodes is aiming high with his business, iFuse

Rock and Ruby

Gemma Stone's redundancy laid the foundations of Rock and Ruby, one the UK's brightest event management firms

Sarah Walmsley

In the second of our young entrepreneur profiles, we gaze into Sarah Walmsley's glassware business

Satish Shewhorak

In the first of our young entrepreneur series, we profile budding animator Satish Shewhorak

State of Undress

Emma Cheevers and Alex Suhner have turned heads in the fashion world with their lingerie business

Memorable advertisement

The Business Plan

business plans structure

  • Title page: Title or heading of the plan and brief description if required, author, date, company/organization if applicable, details of circulation and confidentiality.
  • Contents page: A list of contents (basically the sections listed here, starting with the Introduction page) showing page numbers, plus a list of appendices or addendums (added reference material at the back of the document) allowing the reader to find what they need and navigate the document easily, and to refer others to particular items and page numbers when reviewing or querying.
  • Introduction page: Introduction and purpose of the plan, terms of reference if applicable (usually for formal and large plans or projects).
  • Executive summary page: Optional and usually beneficial, this should normally be no more than a page long (or it's not an executive summary) - the key points of the whole plan including conclusions, recommendations, actions, financial returns on investment, etc., clearly readable in a few minutes.
  • Main body of plan: sections and headings as required, see template below.
  • Acknowledgments and bibliography/reference sources: if relevant (only required normally for very large formal plans)
  • Appendices: appendices or addendums - additional detailed reference material, examples, statistics, spreadsheets, etc., for reference and not central to the main presentation of your plan.

business plans - main body sections examples template

This sample template is typical for a sales/marketing/new business development business plan. (A business plan for a more complex project such as an international joint-venture, or the formation of a new company including manufacturing plant or other overhead activities would need to include relevant information and financials about the overheads and resources concerned, and the financials would need to show costs and profits more like a fully developed profit and loss account, with cashflow projections, balance sheet, etc.) Where appropriate refer to your position regarding corporate ethics and social responsibility. While these aspects are not mechanisms within the plan, they are crucial reference points.

  1. Define your market - sector(s) and segment(s) definitions
  2. Quantify your market (overview only) - size, segmentation, relevant statistics, values, numbers (locations, people/users, etc) - make this relevant to you business
  3. Explain your market(s) - sector trends, eg., growth, legislation, seasonality, PEST factors where relevant, refer to Ansoff matrix, show the strategic business drivers within sector and segments, purchasing mechanisms, processes, restrictions - what are the factors that determine customers' priorities and needs - this is a logical place to refer to ethics and CSR (corporate social responsibility
  4. Explain your existing business - your current business according to sector, products/services, quantities, values, distributor, etc.
  5. Analyse your existing customer spread by customer type, values and products/services including major accounts (the 'Pareto Principle' or the '80:20 rule' often applies here, eg., 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers)
  6. Explain your products and services - refer to Boston matrix and especially your strategic propositions (what these propositions will do for your customers) including your USP's and UPB's (see sales training section and acronyms)
  7. Explain you routes to market, gatekeepers, influencers and strategic partners - the other organizations/individuals you will work with to develop your market, including 'what's in it for them', commissions, endorsements, accreditations, approvals, licenses, etc.
  8. Case studies and track record - the credibility, evidence and proof that your propositions and strategic partnerships work
  9. Competitor analysis, eg., SWOT analysis of your own business compared to SWOT analysis of each competitor
  10. Sales/marketing/business plan (1 year min) showing sales and margins by product/service stream, mix, values, segment, 'distributor', etc, whatever is relevant, phased monthly, in as much detail as you need. This should be on a spreadsheet, with as many different sheets as necessary to quantify relevant inputs and outputs.
  11. List your strategic actions (marketing campaigns, sales activities, advertising, etc) that will deliver the above, with costs and returns. This should be supported with a spreadsheet, showing cost and return on investment for each activity.

Tip: If the business plan concerns an existing activity, use the previous year's sales/business analysis as the basis for the next year's sales/business plan. Adapt as necessary according to your new strategic plans.

Source of the excellent material above

How to write a business plan....

Business plan examples...

From Businesslink:

Your plan should include:

  • An executive summary - this is an overview of the business you want to start. It's vital. Many lenders and investors make judgments about your business based on this section of the plan alone. See the page in this guide on the executive summary.
  • A short description of the business opportunity - who you are, what you plan to sell or offer, why and to whom. See the page in this guide on your business, its products and services.
  • Your marketing and sales strategy - why you think people will buy what you want to sell and how you plan to sell to them. See the pages in this guide on your markets and competitors and marketing and sales.
  • Your management team and personnel - your credentials and the people you plan to recruit to work with you. See the page in this guide on your team's skills.
  • Your operations - your premises, production facilities, your management information systems and IT. See the page in this guide on your operations.
  • Financial forecasts - this section translates everything you have said in the previous sections into numbers. See the page in this guide on financial forecasts.
Look here for further information on documents...

The basics of writing a business plan....

A whole load of blog posts about business plans...

Homework: design a business plan for a product of your choice.

Rotating Spaghetti Forks

An example.... what do you think of the website? Is it well designed?

Is this site better....

Visit this site and learn all about Chindogu....

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

New Business Ideas

Here are twenty new business ideas. Have a look at them....

Earlier I wrote about blogs that make are some more...


Owner Michael Arrington has 5 million page viewers per month and makes over £1.2 million per year.

His income comes from advertising with banners costing £1,000 per week to place.


Owner Jake Dobkin has 7 million page views per month and earns £400,000 per year.

His income comes from advertising.


Owner Mario Lavandeira attracts 4 million visitors per day and earns £1 Million per year.

His income comes from advertising with a banner costing £7,000 per day to place.

Talking Points...

Owner Josh Marshall attracts 500,000 page views per week and makes £450,000 per year.

His income comes from advertising and affiliate income.


Owner Jeremy Schoemaker attracts 20,000 visitors per day and earns £160,000 per year.

His income comes from his own product, Auction Ads and Google AdSense.


Owner Mark Frauenfelder attracts 2.6 million visitors per month and earns £650,000 per year.

His income comes from advertising with banners costing £11,000 per day to place.

Has the Pre-IB group learned how to maximise the quality of their blog yet?

Where is the homework from the pre-IB?

Other people manage to do the simple tasks?

Other people manage to learn about marketing plans...

Making money from blogs

A basic blog can earn you £10.00 per week just from Google adsense, add a couple of affiliate products from Clickbank, Amazon or DoubleTrader and you could earn £100.00 per week.

Then once you have your first blog up and running do it again with another niche subject.

Take a look at this one:

Weightloss for Mums

That earns about £10 a week.

Try and include your main keyword within your blog title, and make sure you include interesting information. Be the first on the IB market with IB info!

Then write articles and post to Ezine Articles about your blog niche subject and link back to your blog. Check out all those articles just from yesterday!

Create a Hubpage and again link back to your blog.

Give it a go, you'll be amazed how easy it is to create a blog.

These blogs that follow earn £ms every year!

Remember - learn about blogs NOW and you can maintain it long after leaving EF!

Check out this blog

Owner Darren Rowse has over 1.5 million viewers per month and earns £60,000 per year.

His income comes from Google AdSense, Text Link Ads, and Amazon Associates.

Now look at this...

Owner Pete Cashmore has over 4 million viewers per month and earns around £1 million per year.

His income comes from advertising with banner ads costing £1,200 per week to place on his blog.

There are others too.

The above should be enough to make you salivate!

Also check out point 3 on this site...

One last thing!

be pro-active. If you want to LEARN and you see something, say on the Hamilton House site, and want to know how it's done (eg blog-writing) then send in an email.

What have you got to lose?

Lateral Thinking

Also read this...

Assessing Business Ideas

The video goes on about the litmus test so ........ click here to download the Litmus Test.


Here also is how to assess a business idea:

There’s lots of interest in being an entrepreneur today around the world. So our question was, how do we figure out how to help our people understand, is this opportunity that I have in mind good enough for me or is there something fatally flawed and maybe I need to tweak it a little bit before I get started, or maybe I should actually put it in the bin and look for something better.

The first lesson we learned is that there is sort of some confusion in most entrepreneurs' and many investors' eyes around these two very simple words that we always use – market and industry.

Markets are really groups of customers, and industries are groups of competitors and so there are different questions you ask to understand, is this an attractive market or, on the other hand, is this an attractive industry and attractive game to play. So that’s sort of the first thing our research taught us – that you have to assess those two sides of opportunity distinctly.

The second thing we learned was that while large fast-growing markets are attractive for example, there is something more important about the market side of the equation and not surprisingly that’s whether the customer is going to buy your stuff.

On the industry side there’s the same kind of problem. You can do an analysis sort of at the macro level, looking at the industry from 30,000ft, as Michael Portev teaches us to do.

But the real question isn’t so much is the industry attractive, it’s can you build sustainable competitive advantage that’s going to last over time, as opposed to you getting started and then some big company comes in and you're lunch.

The third one was really surprising. It’s common for people to say around entrepreneurship and venture capital that it’s all about management, management, management; and clearly management teams are important. But what we learned is what’s important about them isn’t probably found on their CVs and isn’t just about the fire in their belly and their entrepreneurial passion. It’s about three things. It’s about their mission and aspiration and propensity for risk.

The second thing is every industry has some things that we call critical success factors. That is, those factors that if you do them well, your probably going to be successful, even though you don’t do everything else well, but if you do them not so well, you’re probably going to have a tough time, even though other things you get right.

And then the third team issue is the issue about being connected and of course everybody in business knows how important connections are. But the real insight we got from this research has to do with the problems inherent in what we call Plan A. Most entrepreneurs have an idea for a new business and they are passionate about this idea and they just know it’s going to work. But the evidence suggests that most of the time Plan A does not work and what works really is Plan B or Plan C or maybe Plan Z.

So this issue of being well connected becomes the key to getting to Plan B and Plan B is probably where the money is going to be made but on day one you don’t know what Plan B is. What makes an opportunity really attractive, a great place to grow your business, rather than just a ho hum opportunity?


How to generate powerful ideas by thinking laterally

By Paul Sloane

Lateral thinking is a phrase coined by Edward de Bono as a counterpoint to conventional or vertical thinking. In conventional thinking we go forward in a predictable, direct fashion. Lateral thinking involves coming at the problem from new directions – literally from the side. De Bono defines the four main aspects of lateral thinking as follows:

  1. The recognition of dominant polarizing ideas.
  2. The search for different ways of looking at things.
  3. A relaxation of the rigid control of vertical thinking.
  4. The use of chance.

There are dominant ideas in every walk of life. They are the assumptions, rules and conventions that underpin systems and influence people’s thinking and attitudes. The idea that the Earth was flat or that the Earth was the centre of the Universe are examples of dominant ideas that polarized thought along set lines. Once the dominant ideas are in place then everything else is viewed in a way that supports them. Someone who is paranoid sees every attempt to help them as malevolent and manipulating. Someone who believes in a conspiracy theory will explain away any inconvenient facts as deliberately constructed by the powers behind the conspiracy. Most organizations have dominant ideas that polarise their view of the world. It is easy for us to be critical of the makers of horse-drawn carriages who thought that automobiles were silly contraptions that would never catch on. However we are the captives of established ideas too.

A lateral thinking technique we can use is to write down all the dominant ideas that apply in our situation and then to deliberately challenge them. So for example the major airlines used to work with these beliefs:

  • Customers want high standards of service.
  • We issue tickets for all flights.
  • We allocate seating in advance.
  • We sell through travel agents.
  • We fly to major airports because that is what business travellers want.

Of course the low-cost airlines broke all of these rules and created a huge new market. A good start with lateral thinking is to deliberately turn every assumption and dominant idea on its head and see where that leads.

What if: A powerful lateral thinking technique

Asking "What if?" is a lateral thinking technique that helps us to explore possibilities and challenge assumptions at the same time. We use the "What if?" question to stretch every dimension of the issue. Each "What if?"question should be extreme to point of being ridiculous. Say we are running a small charity that cares for homeless dogs. The challenge is, "How can we double our fund-raising income?" The sort of "What if?" questions we could ask might be:

  • What if we had only 1 donor?
  • What if we had 10 million donors?
  • What if we had an unlimited marketing budget?
  • What if we had no marketing budget?
  • What if everyone had to look after a homeless dog for a day?
  • What if dogs slept in beds and people slept in kennels?
  • What if dogs could speak?

The question "What if we only had one donor?" might suggest that we target fabulously wealthy dog lovers in order to raise more funds from fewer donors. We could explore ways of doing this and generate all sorts of ideas. "What if dogs could speak?" might suggest ways of marketing that involved speaking dogs or dog conversations. Each question generates stimulating lines of inquiry by testing the rules and dominant ideas boundaries that are assumed to apply to the problem. Start with a challenge and, individually or in a group, generate a short list of really provocative "what if?" questions. Take one and see where it leads. Follow the crazy train of thought and see what emerges. You will start with silly ideas but these often lead to radical insights and innovations.

How randomness and chance favor the lateral thinker

The role of chance in major inventions and scientific discoveries is well documented. The transmission of radio waves was discovered by Hertz when some of his equipment happened to produce a spark on the other side of the room. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin when he noticed that one of his old petrie dishes had developed a mould that was resistant to bacteria. X-Rays were discovered accidentally by Roentgen when he was playing with a cathode ray tube. Christopher Columbus discovered America when he was looking for a route to India. The common theme is that someone with a curious mind sets out to investigate things. When something unusual happens they study it and see how it can be put to use.

The same methods can work for us. When we are looking for new ideas and fresh ways to do things then a random input can help us. A highly effective brainstorming technique is to take a noun at random from the dictionary. Write down some associations or attributes of the word and then force fit connections between the word or its associations and the brainstorming challenge. People do not believe that it works until they try it. Some words produce nothing worthwhile but every so often you will get really radical ideas using this method. The same approach works using a random object, picture, song and so on. This is why a walk around a museum or art gallery can be so useful when we are working on a knotty problem. The brain can make all sorts of lateral connections between the variety of stimuli that you encounter and the problem.

A great deal of humour is based on lateral thinking. The comedian ridicules existing beliefs; he comes at an issue from unusual directions; he makes unexpected connections to give the surprise that makes us laugh. The two best reasons to use lateral thinking in our everyday lives are because we will generate many fresh, better ideas and because it is great fun


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Lapdesk (classwork)

Also look at the Lapdesk question....

Useful links:

Link one

Link two

Link three

Link four

Link five

Link six

Link seven

Link eight

Link nine

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Link eleven

Link twelve

Link thirteen

Assume your WOULD invest £25,000 in this business. In the light of your research above, how would you:

a. modify the product

b. market the product

What can a Tuna Fish tell you about blogging?

Why 30 days?

I stole the idea - plus the Business Course is only 30 days or so i.e. until Study Week.

In those 30 days a lot can be achieved...

Anyway, as I say, I stole the idea:

"A powerful personal growth tool is the 30-day trial. This is a concept I borrowed from the shareware industry, where you can download a trial version of a piece of software and try it out risk-free for 30 days before you’re required to buy the full version. It’s also a great way to develop new habits, and best of all, it’s brain-dead simple.

Let’s say you want to start a new habit like an exercise program or quit a bad habit like sucking on cancer sticks. We all know that getting started and sticking with the new habit for a few weeks is the hard part. Once you’ve overcome inertia, it’s much easier to keep going.

Yet we often psyche ourselves out of getting started by mentally thinking about the change as something permanent — before we’ve even begun. It seems too overwhelming to think about making a big change and sticking with it every day for the rest of your life when you’re still habituated to doing the opposite. The more you think about the change as something permanent, the more you stay put.

But what if you thought about making the change only temporarily — say for 30 days — and then you’re free to go back to your old habits? That doesn’t seem so hard anymore. Exercise daily for just 30 days, then quit. Maintain a neatly organized desk for 30 days, then slack off. Read for an hour a day for 30 days, then go back to watching TV.

Could you do it? It still requires a bit of discipline and commitment, but not nearly so much as making a permanent change. Any perceived deprivation is only temporary. You can count down the days to freedom. And for at least 30 days, you’ll gain some benefit. It’s not so bad. You can handle it. It’s only one month out of your life.

Now if you actually complete a 30-day trial, what’s going to happen? First, you’ll go far enough to establish it as a habit, and it will be easier to maintain than it was to begin it. Secondly, you’ll break the addiction of your old habit during this time. Thirdly, you’ll have 30 days of success behind you, which will give you greater confidence that you can continue. And fourthly, you’ll gain 30 days worth of results, which will give you practical feedback on what you can expect if you continue, putting you in a better place to make informed long-term decisions.

Therefore, once you hit the end of the 30-day trial, your ability to make the habit permanent is vastly increased. But even if you aren’t ready to make it permanent, you can opt to extend your trial period to 60 or 90 days. The longer you go with the trial period, the easier it will be to lock in the new habit for life.

Another benefit of this approach is that you can use it to test new habits where you really aren’t sure if you’d even want to continue for life. Maybe you’d like to try a new diet, but you don’t know if you’d find it too restrictive. In that case, do a 30-day trial and then re-evaluate. There’s no shame in stopping if you know the new habit doesn’t suit you. It’s like trying a piece of shareware for 30 days and then uninstalling it if it doesn’t suit your needs. No harm, no foul."