Manage Your Business
'Judo flip' your business challenges for greater success
Unlock your creativity by doing things differently
Josh Linkner, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, has partnered with Chase for Business to provide practical advice on how to accelerate the growth of your business.
Solutions often appear when you turn your approach on its head.
Making a radical change in approach to your business—a "judo flip," in the words of Josh Linkner, best-selling author and innovation expert—can help unlock your creativity and keep you ahead of competitors.
"Think about how you do things now, and ask yourself where it makes sense to try the polar opposite," says Linkner. “Examine all aspects of your business—what you sell, who your customers are, how they buy, where they conduct business."
Learn how it's done from these examples of the judo flip in action:
1. Target a new demographic
Rethinking your target customer could help you establish a new, lucrative niche for your business, Linkner says. For example, a career counselor who works primarily with recent college graduates might spot an even greater untapped need among older professionals weighing a career change. Testing out her services with the new demographic could help the counselor decide whether she should shift her focus.
The best time to try this sort of approach isn't necessarily when business is stagnating, Linkner says. "When things are going well—when you have the momentum, the capital and the resources—that's the perfect time to judo flip," he says. If you are open to change, you're positioned to capture opportunities that can help your business thrive.
2. Change how you sell
Thinking creatively about your customers' lifestyles, needs and preferences can open up new possibilities for delivering your offering in a way that resonates with them, Linkner says. Web-based razor blade delivery services are a good example of this, he says. “These companies realized that their customers might buy razors once a month, so why not get a subscription instead of going to the store?" he says. Customers benefit from the convenience, while the companies gain a steady revenue stream.
Conversely, a business might initially focus on selling online but then find greater success face-to-face with customers. A jewelry designer may find it tough to stand out in an online marketplace, but make sales easily at a popular weekend flea market.
3. Switch up your pricing strategy
Experimenting with your pricing model could also boost your revenue and profits. One approach is to make a product or service available for free, or at a nominal cost, to drive business to higher-profit offerings. An online education company might lower the prices of some of its courses and add premium services such as one-on-one tutoring or expanded content.
Enhancing your product and pricing it accordingly could be another way to innovate, and to differentiate your business in a crowded market. For example, a burger restaurant whose competitors are continuously lowering their prices could take the opposite approach and introduce a more upscale, expensive offering.
"Instead of trying to be the cheapest, you could focus on being the most expensive," Linkner says. "Your burgers could include Kobe beef, seared foie gras and truffle mushrooms, and maybe you serve them with champagne."
4. Before you flip, test your idea
Judo-flipping isn't about making reckless changes without testing the waters first, Linkner cautions. "While you're keeping your lights on by selling to your usual customers, test out a product on a new clientele to see how it fits, what the price points are and how you're able to add real value," he says. "If it doesn't work, there's been no harm done."
What's most important is to continuously question established ways of doing things, and to have the courage to make changes.
"People tend to overestimate the risk of trying something new, but underestimate the risk of standing still," he says. “Even if change can feel risky, not taking action can be even riskier."
Ami Albernaz is a Chase News contributor. Her work has appeared in the The Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor.