Productivity / Professional development

Back to BSchool: What’s the big idea?

As I strolled (virtually) into the Bschool campus with my brand new folder and false bravado, I was immediately thrown into the firing line.

15 February 2015 by

Last December I revealed, why I’m going back to business school as a guest of the team at BSchool.edu.au. Now, a few months in, it’s time to check in on progress.

On the first day of term, before I even sat down, I was promptly installed as CEO of an independent breakfast cereal manufacturer, HERO CEREALS, competing against all the major global players.

I was informed that our sales were flat due to pressure from fierce competition and innovations like liquid breakfasts, breakfast bars and healthier options. The mission for the new CEO (me!) was to rapidly develop offerings beyond our traditional sugar cereals to grow market share and return to growth.

"While I do eat breakfast most mornings, I wasn’t sure that qualified me for the gig!"

They demanded ‘The Big Idea’ for the year ahead, and all eyes were focused on me. And, while I do eat breakfast most mornings, I’m not sure that qualified me for the gig!

Armed with a stack of detailed company history, financial data, market research and trusty Google, my first assignment was to prepare a detailed report for management analysing the competition, real-life market trends, financial forecasts, industry research and consumer surveys.

Following this evaluation of the market, I had to identify and evaluate the financial and operational feasibility of three options that could take HERO CEREALS in a bold new direction. Finally, I was required to recommend a direction backed by the research and pitch it the board for approval.

While it may not necessarily sound like fun, it was a very satisfying process. And when challenged with analysing the opportunity cost percentages, calculating present value of future cash flows and deriving a profitability index for each option, I knew I was learning something new and valuable!

Something else new I picked up was an idea-generation technique from the course book Blue Ocean Strategy. It identifies several ways to look across and beyond your industry to see things in a new light. For example:

  • Look across other industries – in this assignment I generated ideas from examining the growing energy drink and coffee markets
  • Look across the supply chain – for example, could breakfast be sold like a snack direct to consumers via convenience stores or vending machines rather than purely supermarket?
  • Looking across time – the seemingly long-terms trends towards healthy eating, and busy lifestyles, are very relevant for the breakfast industry

Adding to the above analysis Adrian Giles, founder of Hitwise and the BSchool mentor for ‘The Big Idea’ module, gave the advice that while immersing yourself in the detailed data and market research is important and necessary, ultimately there is also an element of gut feel as to what you feel will be attractive to consumers.

So what was my big breakfast idea I hear you ask?

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Brekky Buzz | Nutritious smoothie with a hit of natural caffeine

In line with the growing trends of breakfast on the go, healthier options, the rise of energy drinks, and our addiction to morning caffeine, Brekky Buzz taps into all four. It’s a nutritious breakfast smoothie with a hit of natural caffeine to get the day started!

All served in a coffee-style cup perfect for car cup-holders, taking to meetings and public transport. Wherever a coffee can go, your breakfast can now go too! Just grab from the fridge (or straight from the pantry), pop the resealable lid and get buzzing.

Available in Berry Bircher Yoghurt, Coffee Nut Crush and Banana Smoothie. Low in sugar, low in fat, low GI, high in protein and all the goodness of a bowl of muesli.

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Next up on the agenda, after a brief mid-semester break, we are tackling the art of product development with Bschool mentor Caroline Creswell, Founder of success story Carman’s Muesli.

That’s the bell… I’ll report back on progress again soon!

 

About BSchool: BSchool.edu.au was started by seasoned entrepreneurs Ryan Trainor and David Trewern, with the inspiration to create an education model they would have liked to use during their business growth. With mentorship from some of Australia’s top entrepreneurs, it’s designed to give you the skills necessary to take an idea from ideation to commercialisation.

 

 

Peter Crocker

is a director of Flying Solo responsible for marketing and advertising. As a business copywriter he partners with digital agencies and corporate clients on websites and digital content. He’s the co-author of Flying Solo Revisited – How to go it alone in business.

Comments

  • Hi Peter,

    Interested to hear your thoughts about how you’re going now?
    Do you find using a hypothetical business frustrating or useful?
    Thanks

  • Hi Janee – thanks for reading. Still going well thanks. I think if you’re after a solid background of the fundamentals then a hypothetical business can be a great way to cover all the basics that you might not yet be up to in your own business (for example building a team, raising capital, developing a new product). If your business is established and you’re looking specifically to take it to the next level then it might be good to have training/consulting that applies specifically to the stage you’re at. I’ll be publishing a new blog on progress in the next few weeks. Hope that helps.

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