Posts in Business idea
Business buy in

Build-A-Bear children Having young children means toy stores become a tricky place. On our recent trip to the USA, we crashed and burned at a over-populated Disney Land, and found ourselves wandering the forecourt of Disney at the attached mall.

The girls were really let down by their Disney experience and were hunting for something good... After dropping into several stores, we came to Build-A-Bear, a franchise that exists in Australia, and a potential to save the day.

Build-A-Bear is a place where you can make your own teddy bear. You pick a limp body from a huge range of characters, pick a scent and a sound then take it over to the a staff member and control the stuffing of it. The pièce de résistance is the accessories, there is a phenomenal range of clothing roller skates, toys, bags, and oh my god, everything. The key story here is your friend for life should be as individual as you are, so you create their character through the accessories.

Before the staff member clinically sews up the stuffed bear (it does make you squeamish), you are asked to perform a ritual with a tiny heart shaped pillow that becomes the bear's heart. The ritual is the key, it creates meaning out of the experience of buying, consuming.

In every Build-A-Bear here in Australia that I have visited (3 in total) it feels flat. Yes there are children buzzing around excitedly, but the staff aren't sticking to the script, they don't believe the hype. They stuff the bears, they work the heart into the process they tick the boxes, but there is no 'buy in', the staff don't believe the meaning behind the business, the why of the business.

So....some creative entrepreneur has looked carefully what children want, they undoubtedly have spent time and money researching their market. From the research they would have made a story of what happens when a customer engages with Build-A-Bear. The story would have been translated into a plan and policy, then it is time to execute.

If the idea is strong enough, and the management is behind it, the execution is easier... initially. Given time though, it is easy to slip in effort. The management, particularly those involved in day to day operation, must keep everyone 'on script'.

The difference we experienced between the Australian versions of Build-A-Bear and this one in the heart of Disney was fascinating. It was not a yawning gap on the face of it, but it was a totally different experience. The difference was staff 'buy in' to the deeper meaning of the brand, that these bears are your friends for life.

The staff at the Disney store brought the bears alive, they wove magic into the process, they had my girls enchanted when placing the bears heart. They shared the story and entwined my children into it. The bears were characters, friends, the staff loved the bears too, had opinions on the level of firmness of the stuffing depending on the activities or accessories planned. They spoke with conviction about the glory of the rainbow skirt for Pony Twilight Sparkle and how my youngest choice of a Pug was great and had she seen the skateboarding hoody?

The result was, we spent money. More than we had intended. More importantly we are now looking for other stores to visit, we are happily signed up to their email program, and we are part of the Build-A-Bear club, we bought in to the story, the why, of the business.

All because of superior execution, staff buy in and because the staff made it impossible not to jump on board, they weren't cynical, they believed in the company's deeper story and values. The staff were brand champions.

The lesson to us business owners who have such great creative ideas, we need to execute thoroughly, we need to build a script and stick to it for every customer, all the time. But more importantly, the deeper meaning behind our brand, our business, the real WHY of what we do, must be shared by our staff and expressed in all of our activities. If you want people to value what you do, to 'get' your business, you need to show them the heart of who you are and show them how that effects every aspect of their experience with you.

This becomes even more important when our ideas are clever and involved. When we are asking our clients to buy in to our vision, even more so. Most small businesses want for a deep long lasting connection to their clients, and if you can give your clients a strong sense of your brand's value, your business's 'why', you can ask them to join you on the journey and then, you have a winning formula.

Paul Atkins and Kate Burns.

Business Models notes - Summer School 2014

Value propositions....? Stuart Davis' Business Models session was well attended and set a challenge for attendees, perhaps too great a challenge for one morning.

Formally modelling your business and using these techniques to explore new business ideas is the best way to stretch out and grow your enterprise.

Stuart has provided these useful links to support his presentation:

Business Model Canvas –

Milkshake Story - Clayton Christensen -

Human Zoo (skip to 12mins) - Dr Carla Litchfield -

To download Stuart's presentation notes, click here.

Sick of dealing with objections?

"Why are you so expensive?" "I can't come during BH." "I can't afford it" "Do I get the files?" "Why are clients late?" "What do I get for free?"

Ever been lost for words? Not know what to say? Wonder how you could answer that curly question better?

YES! ....there are ways to handle these objections and problems when they happen... BUT there are also ways to prevent them from actually happening!

In this seminar Julian will give you all his tips, tricks, systems and one-liners that put clients back in their box and take control of every situation.

For more information, click here.

When: Tues 10th September, 1 - 5pm Where: AtkinsTechnicolour 89 Fullarton Rd Kent Town Cost: $85.00 To book, click here.

Wedding Photography Business Models

Here is the unedited audio stream from the seminar held on Friday the first of February. There is an 11 minute break in the middle that will need fast forwarding when you get there (sorry I ran out of time to edit). Thanks to David Seivers acting as host for the session, and all those who contributed. It was an excellent session. Clearly there is a lot of love for this industry and participants want to see it thrive.

Summer School Topic 3 - What does it take to run a successful, profitable business in professional photography?

Norman WeedallWednesday, January 3oth, 9.30am - 12.30pm - What does it take to run a successful, profitable business in professional photography?.....If you can only work a 4 hour day and are restricted by family commitments, what should you spend that time each day doing? Getting clients, shooting,editing, selling, counting your money? How do you balance enjoyment against income and feeling guilty about editing? The speaker has been doing this for 30yrs with Gainsborough Studio and now spends most time doing personal consulting to help people develop a niche in the marketplace. Norman says "I find people have too much information from unrelated sources which leads to confusion. I will help you to sort out what's important and prioritise your activities to fit your personality and lifestyle. In this way you can be happy and achieve your goals whether they be financial or family focused. In addition Norman will give each participant a free 15min phone consultation, at a later date, to help put your thoughts in order and answer any personal questions you may have. Presented by Norman Weedall.

Register here.

To find out about the other Summer School sessions, click here.

Santa Photos - a business idea

Here is a great opportunity. If you are thinking of doing Santa Photos but the logistics make it too hard, we have this neat little system to help. It is based on an iPad ordering app we have written and allows you to take the photos and we can do the rest.

  1. You set up and shoot the photos
  2. Choose the picture that looks best
  3. Hand your client the iPad running our software for them to fill in their details.
  4. Charge your client your price.
  5. Daily export the forms to us with the chosen photos.
  6. We colour correct, print and post to your clients the next day.

High quality Santa photos with little fuss. We can even provide the iPad.

Enquire by email or phoning Paul Atkins on 08 8431 6755.