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Test Your Exponential Profit Growth Strategies Out of Sight

Jan 27, 2008
When the major automobile companies come up with an exciting concept vehicle, they keep it under wraps for as long as possible. For this purpose, they have many indoor facilities where various aspects of the vehicle can be tested in private.

As an example, you can tell a lot about the aerodynamics and potential fuel efficiency of a vehicle by putting it in a wind tunnel. You can also stage test crashes with robotic dummies filled with sensors.

But when you think you've got all the flaws worked out, you still need to take the vehicle out for a challenging test drive. All automobile companies have secure facilities where they can conduct these performance tests. They find out how the vehicle feels when it takes a difficult turn, how fast it actually accelerates, what the fuel efficiency really is, how well the brakes work, and so forth. To keep these tests secret, the vehicles are wrapped in shrouds while being transported to and from the test tracks. The tracks are placed in remote areas that cannot be observed from nearby locations.

You need to take the same kinds of precautions with your implementation test of exponential growth strategies. Your objective is to make the test as invisible as possible to competitors. Otherwise, you are simply running a clinic for competitors to take your thinking profitably to market.

How can you conduct stealth testing? Starting small is usually a good idea. Let's assume that Southwest Airlines wants to test methods for adding discount parking for its customers.

Most airports are owned by government entities and have limited ability to transfer their resources to private ownership. But if we move just a few feet away from the airport, it's a whole new ball game. Many airports are ringed by privately owned parking facilities that charge a little bit less than the airport operations do for parking.

Using various anonymous-sounding trusts and corporations, Southwest could buy one such lot next to an airport where parking is overpriced and the local airport management is open to innovations in passenger service. A new parking manager could be installed who is asked to try out new pricing schemes for parkers, new services for those with luggage, and better ways of linking parkers to their airlines.

The local head of Southwest operations could be instructed to be friendlier about making adjustments and easing the testing process without letting anyone know that the two entities are owned by the same company. Then, Southwest could experiment to its heart's content until all the bugs are worked out . . . or the approach turns out to be wholly impractical.

What is the worst that could happen if this test drive failed? Southwest would have lost some money during the experiment but could go back to profitably operating the parking lot at the end.

At some point, the parking lot could probably be sold for a gain that would exceed any losses incurred during the experiment. If the first site worked okay, Southwest could secretly expand the experiment to a few more airports.

Once convinced that it had a winner, Southwest could either buy a public off-airport parking chain and sell the non-airport lots or accelerate its practice of buying up individual owners at different airports. When enough lots were in place, the new program could be made public and receive all the fanfare it deserved.

What are the principles you should follow in designing your stealthy test drive? Here are our ideas. Feel free to add to them.

-Make the initial efforts as small as you can without compromising what you will learn.

-Reduce the cost of ineffective results.

-Keep your findings from being observed and understood by a competitor.

-Give yourself lots of flexibility to try different implementation approaches if the first one turns out to be flawed.

-Use the experiment to get more feedback from current and potential customers about what they like and don't like about your concept and execution of that concept.

-Expand the experiment while remaining stealthy.

-Give those who believe in the concept a chance to react to its execution during the experiment.

Good luck with growing your business by 20 times!
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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