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Small business growth by color and category

Posted by: Brian O'Connell on September 29, 2011 Source: Kauffman Foundation

You’d think that owners would have enough to worry about without adding colors to the equation too. But knowing the “four colors of business” may mean the difference between success and failure for healthcare entrepreneurs.

Small businesses need all the help they can get. After all, the U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that only 31 percent of small businesses survive seven years, and the chance of failure within five years is 49 percent.

So how do colors apply to small business survival? It all boils down to adapting to and using innovation and technology to feed and nurture your business. That’s what a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis says in a new book titled The Four Colors of Business Growth.

Anjan Thakor, Ph.D., the John E. Simon Professor of Finance at Olin Business School, describes the book as follows:

“The book is based not only on the extensive research I’ve done on the subject of innovation and growth,” Thakor says, “but also on what I’ve learned through the interactions I’ve had with a variety of companies, executive education participants, students in the Executive MBA and MBA programs, senior executives and others in my consulting engagements.”

The four colors come into play as part of the author’s four categories of growth – a concept he calls the “Competing Values Framework.” Also known as the “four C’s,” (see a trend here?) those categories help businesses build growth strategies based on industry goals. They are:

  • Collaborate
  • Create
  • Control
  • Compete

Each C is assigned a color, and the author examines how that color impacts key business areas, like corporate strategy, finance, organizational behavior, change management and leadership.

“The writing style is deliberately designed to communicate to practitioners and be highly accessible,” Thakor adds. “Every chapter in the book attempts to take the research insights that come from the body of knowledge in that discipline and then attempt to show managers how they can use these insights in their own organizations to approach the challenge of innovation.”

Thakor says the book is specifically written for startup owners, as well as managers and senior executives. “But it’s for anyone in the business who is thinking about how to formulate a growth strategy that is effective,” he adds.

In the end, the book, with its four color themes, asks business leaders to take four different approaches to grow their businesses. The author promises that the book is packed with information on how to do just that, although he says the book “is not very long, and fun to read.”

The book might be just the thing to help healthcare entrepreneurs steer their companies through the worst economy in 80 years.

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