More than half of all the entrepreneurs who had enough moxie to start a new company never, not even once, talked to potential customers before launch.

More than half of all the entrepreneurs who had enough moxie to start a new company never, not even once, talked to potential customers before launch.

This comes from an article titled What Entrepreneurs Get Wrong published at Harvard Business Review. You respond, “Yeah, so what, they are stupid and besides what does this have to do with senior housing?” Glad you asked here is why:

1. In the recent past I wrote about the dearth of technology innovation in senior housing arguing we are way behind, my assertion has never been challenged. Just yesterday I received an email from a gerontologist physician who had been contacted by another gerontologist physician who wanted an app that would help her easily find resources for her patients (here is a new opportunity for someone and you can have it for free.  It doesn’t yet exist.

2. It dawned on me a few weeks ago, that one of the reasons there is not so much innovation in senior living communities is that operators and developers don’t have the information they need to innovate and that they don’t have that information because they are not asking the right questions.

Getting Better Data Because I am in a giving mood, I will offer you these three questions that have the potential to revolutionize your program and your design, if you are willing to take the time to ask them, noting they will be most effective when asked to residents who have moved in during the last three to six or seven months:

  1. What are the things you thought you would miss but don’t miss or don’t miss very much?
  2. What are the things that are better about living here than at home?
  3. If there were one thing you could do to this place to make it better what would it be?

Then take these same questions modify them to fit the different audience and ask your families the same three questions.

3. Almost everyone with any kind of leadership position will go to one or more conference that includes a trade show. Carve out a chunk of time to go explore the booths of start-up companies who at least think they have a good idea. (Nope this is not a pitch for Vigil Health Solutions call systems, we have been around way too long to be called a start-up.) When you get there listen their idea and give them honest feedback, good and bad, because you may be the only person willing to be honest with them. You could play a part in bringing to the mainstream the next wonder application or idea.

4. If you know someone with a great idea tell them about the LINKTank Innovation Competition, where 5 ventures with products aimed specifically at the senior care market – who are want input from customers will hear the unvarnished truth – and one of them will walk away with a check for $10,000.

5. If you are going to be within 100 miles of Chicago on July 22, 2013 come be a part of the LINKTank Competition audience and let your voice and expertise be heard. No cost to you to come and have your voice heard – and your participation might bring the next big innovation that makes a REAL difference in Senior Living and Senior Care.

What other advice do you have that will help our industry better innovate?

Steve Moran

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