Get a Department of Getting an Edge: Incito
April 2, 2019
How Ignite Transformed My Business
In 2015 and 2016, while working with our leadership coaching clients at Incito, we started to see increased demand for leadership team development as a result of our 1-on-1 coaching with executives. It was requested often enough for us to see a pattern. I wanted to know: is this a service we should offer? Then in the fall of 2017, we got the chance to test the idea when we joined Ignite.
Ignite is a business growth accelerator offered by the Calgary Chamber. The process is designed for established businesses to test and validate new ideas, with the goal of scaling their operations or creating a new revenue stream. It’s a place where companies can safely explore and iterate their new product or service idea before they put the time and money into a fully fleshed out product or service that might not end up as a viable offering. Ignite pushed Incito into a period of exponential growth. Since participating in Ignite, we have more than doubled our business, with more than 50% growth in the first year alone. More importantly, it allowed us to have greater clarity into our company direction around the goals that we want to set for an organization.
Ignite requires a significant time commitment but it can yield significant results. My colleague Joel Wilkinson and I attended 3-hour sessions every other Friday for 3 months, plus homework where we battle tested our new service idea. Each session is a working session: from the first few weeks filling out your Business Model Canvas, customer profiles, and value proposition, to testing traction and pitching the idea to current and potential customers for feedback. Each cohort is small and sharing among the group is essential. In fact, companies are encouraged to have at least two team members attend so that you can collaborate with another person who knows your business inside and out about the program’s teachings.
Even though Joel and I started Ignite with an MVP (minimum viable product) of our new service, we quickly found that it was vital for any Ignite participant to be open to iterating on their idea or even letting go of their original idea completely if it does not hold up to testing. Business owners must come to Ignite prepared to challenge their own thinking and their idea. In a way, you are in the program to look for every reason to see why your idea might not work. If it’s hard to kill, then it might just be a great idea.
We wanted to know if providing a Leadership and Executive Team Development Program as a standalone service was a viable offering. While we went through the program with an open mind, we thought that we had an idea of how Ignite would help us test the service. What we did not realize is that it would also give us a thorough understanding of how our customers would receive the offering. We did a deeper dive into finding out what the problem truly was. We worked to be clearer on who our potential clients might be, what their pain points are, and learned that we needed to address the emotional needs of our clients for this service to succeed. We then went out and tested our idea on both current and potential clients, to see if it would be welcomed by our market.
Beyond testing how clients might perceive your idea, Ignite is a structured business process that pushes gives entrepreneurs insights and understanding as to the greater impact of their idea. For example, our Leadership and Executive Team Development Program has a larger scope and takes longer to implement. As a result, it’s more expensive and requires a longer sales cycle. However, at Ignite, we were able to test how we positioned the offering so our customers could see its value. Although the service seemed like a harder sell, we also proved that it was scalable – and that it would allow me and Joel to spend less of our time on business development, and more time creating an impact with our clients.
Ignite makes an immediate impact on your current clients and tangible revenue increases. I would encourage any owner of an established business with an idea to participate in Ignite and take their business to the next level.