Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Not all businesses are the same and thus not all rules apply across the board. If you’re running a special type of business, you have considerations that other entrepreneurs don’t. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Helming A Business Involved In Sensitive Specialisms.
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There are some types of business advice that could be considered universal, from top to bottom. This is usually the type of advice focused on those that sell products and services of some kind. For example, the fundamental tenets of opening a restaurant are likely considered similar, no matter what cuisine is on sale. Of course, sometimes there will be outliers, such as how to organize a successful line of food trucks, or considering just how wacky a three michelin star restaurant can afford to be.
But there are some businesses that might not be that open to the fundamental business advice required. For example, research and development initiatives, innovative incubators and a range of other investment-led propositions. Helming a business involved in sensitive specialisms can be truly difficult, and no matter your level of technical expertise could be considered overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. While keen business sense is a universal principle, sometimes excellence is required as a fundamental standard.
This is fine, because if you’re hoping to begin or maintain an operation like this, you are likely excellent already.
When stocking any form of business with good staff, you need to understand your requirements to the T. Odds are that if you’re running your own business, you have a technical level of proficiency in this area already. However, that isn’t always guaranteed, and in fact can sometimes lead a once-innovative business to ruin if not handled well. This means that if you do not have the level of specialist expertise, you must craft a board of individuals that include some who are. These will act as your technical advisors, helping you make the best decisions from the offset, especially where matters of working policy come in. They might advise you the delivery times expected as you manufacture new products, help you optimize and make your manufacturing line more efficient, among a range of other positive helpers that can truly make all the difference.
Recruitment hardly stops here. You also need to stock your company with high-intelligence, accredited professionals. But you must also reach out to those places that could potentially help you continue to bring in the intelligence your company needs for success. A brain drain can cripple a company involved in high-spec ambitions. Recruit at science universities or even begin a sponsorship program to allow high-achieving students with their scholarships. Develop youth training links as far as you can to potentially help build brand loyalty in your employees of tomorrow. This is how you can ensure the average skillset of your staff stays high, but you can also benefit from new, fresh ideas, develop comfortable and confident understandings surrounding
Your vision is important to get right. If you fail to do this, you’ll unfortunately fall behind. A business that is aimless is one that tries everything, but never the right thing. A business without targeted goals and deadlines for those goals has no measure of success. Simply ‘breaking even’ might be all you need to survive, but is that success? Unless you’re running a non-profit, most business leaders wouldn’t. To innovate you need to reinvest, to stay on the cutting edge, and have the versatility to experiment with new ideas. Without this added flexibility, it can be very easy to fall to the wayside.
Refining a vision is important. Changing it over time is possible of course, so don’t feel you’re limited to one direction. But you need to know why you’re here, and why your specialist product matters. How can you help explain it in an accessible manner to those who might not understand? What countries do you hope to sell in? Is this a specialist item for the use of knowledged professionals or is it going to be part of the consumer market?
What pedigree do you want to set for yourself? Will you have the longest-lasting item, the item with the most versatility, or perhaps the most refined and complex of all the products in that industry? What problems with your current industry and the products within it do you wish to solve and overcome given the time?
Feedback & Creativity
It’s important to blossom creativity as much as you can within your business. Part of doing so will help you continually understand what current expectations are, and how you might improve upon them. Never use customer expectations and understandings as a means to base your current method of innovation from. Always look to improve upon it, because you are the ones who should be presenting the new standard.
However, with this kind of interfacing with professionals in your field, with the customers you hope to sell to and perhaps with consultants from many different highly-refined specialisms, you will be able to better gauge the patterns of the industry. But it is always important to keep that window open. This is because even in innovation, you need to understand the purpose of why you’re innovating. Any competent firm with the ability to can get lost in its own hubris, developing and refining products that might not have much practical use in the industry. That is what your sideline experimental products are for, but there must always be a balance between feedback and creativity, from top to bottom.
As we explained before, directed aims are important. But how do they manifest in your product or service development? Well, of course the aims are to provide a product or service that is capable and competitive with others on the market. But what format might this process take? Do you hope to have the most energy efficient production capacity compared to anyone in the industry? Do you pride yourself on your vetted supplies, on the in-house ingredients generated for each development? How about helping initiatives flourish such as those trying to mitigate the damage your industry is known for?
There’s always something positive to try and achieve, and while this is always worthwhile for its own sake, it doesn’t hurt your PR to engage in this either.
Equipment & Expectations
It’s important to ensure that you measure your equipment correctly. Your staff need to have cutting edge gear, especially in your R&D lab. A temperature and climate-controlled area with excellent sanitizing procedures before and after, extremely worthwhile health and safety equipment, important alarms to sounds if an issue occurs, protective and regularly maintained apparel, stocking yourself with an excellent chip kit collection, and ensuring your storage capacities are all extremely well-maintained is essential to helping your lab staff simply start with the fundamentals. Equipment changes depending on the type of research and experimentation is being conducted is essential. Finding the space necessary for this, sometimes in warehouse units, sometimes in office buildings or even underground could be incredibly important. This leads us onto our next point:
When you’re involved in a highly innovative and specialized field, competition is stiff. Half a document of findings could be the smoking gun that allows another firm to try and innovate on your products before your patent is accepted, and could prevent you from taking the competitive edge you would have done. Security needs to be tight, because corporate espionage can be a real, definitive problem in these industries. Vet employees through and through before giving them any sort of clearance, and be sure to tailor your security access in layers, allowing only the most trusted and proven to reach the higher echelons.
Gate document access, secure and encrypt your internet traffic, and ensure devices are restricted from certain areas. Have your staff sign non-disclosure agreements and be sure to keep a competent legal team by your side to execute any lawsuits you have correctly. Lock your building well, and ensure that full security systems are installed. When a single piece of research could potentially gain you or lose you millions of dollars, you need to construct your business correctly from the beginning, to avoid any and all suspicious behavior from reaching its end-point.
Constant Market Research
While it’s essential to conduct your own research and to try to shape the trends of the industry, you must also research the industry through and through. This can be well achieved if you know what you’re doing. Not only must you research customer opinion as we have explained prior in this article, but you must try to understand every move your competition makes. For example, if a rival phone manufacturer releases a model that seems innovative, purchase some in bulk and deconstruct them. Try to get to the heart of the OS, or the design philosophy, or how it was marketed despite the apparent flaws. Learn from those around you, because they’ll almost certainly be learning from you. It’s in this way that you can stay on top of any and every element of the industry that might have otherwise evaded your understanding.
With these tidbits of advice, helming a business involved in sensitive specialisms is sure to be worthwhile.