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If you owned Anthill (the business), how would you make it more profitable (quickly)


Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of getting The Fundamentals of your business in place when starting out. I also described it as an ongoing process.

This is because even the best laid schemes (o’ mice an’ men) often come undone. Things change or, in the case of Anthill this week, disaster can sometimes strike.

That’s right. This week, Anthill was the victim of a theft.

Without going into all the details (I’m saving my energy for the insurance company, which is already proving recalcitrant), we lost about $8,000 in laptops, digital cameras and recording equipment.

The loss was felt immediately, not simply due to its effect on morale but also because the loss involved some important documents (not too many, thankfully, because we operate mostly ‘in the cloud’) and many human hours of lost productivity (which can be even harder to recover than data).

Unlike the theft of a car, where the insurer often provides a temporary replacement, in the case of computer hardware, insurance companies tell claimants to not purchase a replacement, despite claims taking weeks to progress. Ridiculous, really.

In many ways, the process defies the reasons for having insurance in the first place. Whereas we hope to get a good result from the insurance agency in the longer-term, the event has proven a frustrating cash-drag in the short-term.

Yet, when one door closes…

I remember MagNation founder Sahil Merchant describing in an earlier blog post how his investors demanded that he arduously prepare a highly detailed business plan before ceremoniously tossing it in the waste-paper basket. Why did they destroy it?

Because smart business investors (and operators) understand that circumstances change and to be successful, over the long-term, entrepreneurs must learn how to ‘go with the flow’ and adapt.

So, to cut to the chase, the point that I’m trying to make is that the unforeseen does happen. And when faced with that sort of challenge, there are two things that a company or business owner can do:

  1. Sulk (Yes, we can’t deny that we did temporarily submit); and/or
  2. Devise a way to turn a negative into a positive. (Hence, this post!)

So, this week, we’ve been trying to do that and follow the option that, we think, defines the entrepreneurial spirit.

We’ve been trying to develop new ‘cash-based’ revenue streams to add to our arsenal for when ‘disaster strikes’ (and, hopefully, make us stronger in the longer term).

The reason that our emphasis has been on ‘cash-based’ streams is because most revenue making options available to media companies involve 14 to 45 day payment terms. (Ugh!)

But we have one amazing asset!

Thanks to some very inspiring suggestions from participants in last Friday’s Online Marketing Masterclass, we also realised (or, at least, remembered) that we have one very powerful and unique asset out at disposal.

You! Our clever, entrepreneurial readers!

While it feels slightly strange and awkward to write this post (despite the fact that we’ve always sought feedback and never feared using our own business as a proverbial ‘guinea pig’ to test a new business tool or strategy), this request feels slightly different.

I guess this is because seeking ideas in relation to something so fundamental (there’s that word again) as a company’s revenue model makes a founder feel slightly vulnerable.

So, I don’t ask this question lightly:

If Anthill were your business, what would you do to extend the brand and generate new sources of cash-based revenue?

And when I say ‘cash-based’, I’m not talking about physical currency. I’m talking about revenue streams that involve immediate transfer of payment, by credit card or otherwise.

No idea will be deemed too outrageous. In fact, we’re prepared to gift the author of the most outrageous idea with a copy of award winning DVD Startup.com (outrageous ideas spark more moderate, implementable suggestions).

If your idea arrives at the other end of the spectrum, and we do employ it, we can’t offer you much more than our goodwill at the moment. But that could easily change (hint, hint).

UPDATE: The surprising flood of responses to this post, received by phone, email, tweets, Facebook messages and, of course, your comments below had me both thrilled and alarmed. Click here to find out why.

Image by bixentro