Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? Let’s go back, before your firm had turned over every stone in its market.  Picture it – vast, open spaces with lots of opportunity.  Everyone was motivated to capture market share and make a name for your business in its field.  It was an exciting time, wasn’t it?  Now, let’s return to the present day.  Look around – where is that pioneering spirit?  It may be running low, and you’re again considering expansion into new, untapped frontiers.  It’s a heady and scary prospect, but it’s possible with the right mindset and call to action. 

As executive vice-president of a business performance consulting firm, my passion is to help enterprises transform their organizations through growth and new market expansion.  Our approach centers on the four transformational intelligences of the business mind: financial, customer, data, and mastermind intelligence.

We’re going to assume that your firm has already identified a new market, for the sake of this exercise (great choice, by the way!).  It’s tempting to plunge right in and start making those phone calls to “sell, sell, sell”, isn’t it?  But, in order to achieve your desired “to-be” state, this initiative must be approached methodically and strategically.  You must consider your “as-is” state, in addition to other internal and external factors. Your goal is to analyze the gaps between your current state and your ideal future state, and then design a roadmap for how you can best resolve those issues.

Sample internal factor considerations:

  • Does your business have adequate resources?
  • Are there appropriate subject matter experts on your team?
  • What are the implications of an alternative approach?

Sample external factor considerations:

  • Are there any audit matters that need to be considered?
  • What is the competition doing?

After thoroughly assessing your answers, there is one last, crucial thing to consider.  Are you ready to transform your business?  Does this initiative match with your organization’s mission, values and vision?  If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to employ transformational intelligence. 

After years of helping clients transform their businesses using a blend of strategy planning, processes, teamwork, and technology, I’ve developed an iterative framework based on the four transformational intelligences.  This approach offers a way to de-clutter, simplify, strategize, collaborate and communicate more effectively.  Leaders can retrain their brains to be open to new possibilities and optimize their business’ performance from an integrated perspective, as opposed to just in siloes.

  • Financial intelligence is about taking a “deep dive” into your financial position. It’s not just the dollars and cents – it’s about understanding emotional behaviors, too. What drives your financial decisions? Trust? Fear? Rewards? Financial intelligence is also about prediction and risk – your insights into future investments and initiatives, and your comfort level with the impact of your decisions.
  • Customer intelligence focuses on identifying your ideal customers and strategizing ways to attract them. What makes “ideal” customers … “ideal” – and why you are an ideal match for them. What makes them tick and how do you connect with them? And once you do, how will you convince them that you’re the business provider of choice? 
  • Data Intelligence is about the process and steps necessary to synchronously communicate and interpret data internally within your organization and externally with third party vendors and other business entities. How do you do that? By recasting information in a visual way, allowing for rapid decision-making.
  • Mastermind Intelligence is about fostering new and innovative ideas by building a non-judgmental and creative environment in which a pipeline of ideas is continuously generated through respect and collaboration. Mastermind Intelligence is ultimately about triggering engaging thoughts and exercises that can be put into action, with an emphasis on leadership that transforms teams and corporate culture.

“This sounds good, but show me some examples!” you might say. The following walks through a very high-level scenario of the information gained from cycling through the four transformational intelligences as they pertain to entering new markets.

Initiative: Business wants to expand into a new market

With Financial Intelligence, you realize:

You want to increase revenue and know you need to make upfront investment in internal resources and external partnerships (consultants) that are knowledgeable in that market.

With Customer Intelligence, you explore:

You need to design and create a new marketing message specific to the new market. You explore where to find your ideal target customers (events, what media they read, etc).  You delve into the needs of those target customers.

With Data Intelligence, you investigate:

Do you have what it takes to support the needs of the customer? For example, if you are looking to enter the healthcare, banking or government markets, are you compliant with the required certifications?  Is your data properly secure?  If you have a data center, is it SOC or FEDRamp compliant?

With Mastermind Intelligence, you foster:

Continual learning and growth to increase innovative and creative ways to adjust and penetrate the market. For example, as a team, you tweak the marketing message or targets within your market; i.e. you learn that supervisor level is better to target than C-Suite, or procurement instead of IT.

The Four Intelligences are not meant to be used in a vacuum, but as a team.  Huddle up with all of the key players who will impact / be impacted by the expansion into new markets.  Ensure that everyone has the same definitions of terms, processes, procedures and goals.  As a group, brainstorm what success looks likes, and how you will measure it.  By making it a team effort, you will reap so many benefits:

  1. Your strategy plan will be more robust, as you will no doubt discover key considerations you would’ve missed on your own.
  2. The team will feel ownership and be more motivated to succeed.
  3. The project’s mission and terminology will be clear to all, eliminating confusion during roll-out.
  4. You will be more mindful in identifying opportunities.

Now that your team is on board and your strategy map is set, it’s time to execute.  Does this mean that you’re done with the Four Intelligences?  Not at all.  It is meant to be an iterative process that you constantly cycle through.  And, like all good habits, by performing these activities on a regular basis, you and your team will have formed an unconscious habit of constantly examining, strategizing, and tweaking. 

Enjoy this exciting new time as you explore new markets.  While you can’t predict the future, take confidence in the fact that you know where you’re going, where you came from, how you’re going to get there, and most importantly, that you can get back on track if you get lost along the way!