I read a most interesting article today in the Wall Street Journal about a business start up in Chapel Hill, N.C. called Rent-a-Goat.com. What they offer is a completely environmentally friendly way for home and business owners to clear fields of unwanted shrubbery, grasses and any other prickly plants that need to be removed. What is remarkable is that this company has figured out a way to execute upon a business plan first launched thousands of years ago, and still make money today.
As I read further, I learned that Google has hired a similar company to clear their corporate campus of un-needed plants. Other end users include the Vanderbilt estate, where goats were hired for $9,000 to clear seven hilly acres, according to Dave Hayes, the estate’s natural-resource program manager. See the video. Apparently this price tag was two-thirds the cost to hire workers to do the same job … with a zero carbon footprint!
This story is an excellent example of how technological progress and innovation can sometimes take a “U” turn, especially when the social green movement is involved, despite the typical technology innovation cycle we so commonly see and write about (see my prior post on how technology innovation can be treated as a constant). Goes to show that there are no true constants in life, but some highly probably outcomes!
When seeking a business plan writer or preparing a strategic marketing plan, at times it can be helpful to take a completely opposite perspective with regards to what your new service or product should be. This strategy can be quite effective in markets and industries where a growing backlash is starting to gain momentum.
A good example of a business plan that has taken advantage of going “against the mainstream” is the latest offering from Knock Knock, a Los Angeles-based company that sells specialty paper products. They are now offering paper tweet pads, which limit you to a message of 140 characters that you can write down on a piece of paper. Their messaging in the product descriptions is quite good: “Get on the social networking bandwagon with a cutting-edge notepad! The wireless miracle of pen and paper will have you expressing your mundane, or even pressing, thoughts anytime, anywhere!” In a way, they are making fun at all the notoriety and excitement around Twitter, and becoming just the opposite, pointing out that good old fashioned pen and paper is not a bad communications medium.
It turns out that maybe change is the only constant, rather than always counting on technology to drive innovation. Taking a step backward after several strides forward gives us a pause and time for reflection. People are always looking for something new and improved; the “new” maybe simply an old idea that has now gained new awareness and a fresh perspective.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing adviser and business plan writer that specializes in preparing and executing upon business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+.