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What Is the Unicorn in your Business?

Once upon a time, there was a small business owner who thought magic would grow her business. Someone she trusted told him that he needed a unicorn, and all the pieces she needed would fall into place.

What is a unicorn?
I define it as a mythical, magical creature, attributed with magical powers. There may be some historical reference based on someone’s interpretation of something they couldn’t explain. When the interpretation fills, a story emerges. The details provide a context for a story that makes sense of what someone saw or perceived. For example, recently (February 2016) a new species of rhinoceros was discovered and called a unicorn. Most folks when asked think of a white Pegasus-like creature with a spiral horn on the forehead. Our image is a twist on the theme!

So, what’s the point?
Small business owners often chase unicorns in their businesses. They have heard about the features and wish they had one without really understanding their vision, what they will do with it, and the value of having it in their business.

Questions must be asked:
    •    Why is this important to me?
    •    What impact will capturing a unicorn have on my business?
    •    What is necessary to keep it happy and useful? (updates, resources)

For example, we can substitute the words technology or personnel for unicorn, yet the same questions must be asked to determine the value the “unicorn” adds to the business.

As a coach, I observe too many small business focused on things rather than advancing their leadership skills and developing their team members. They hear about something new and run out to buy it without asking the above questions.

Now, I advocate reasonable fantasy, which expounds on your vision, but chasing rainbows is a serious waste of resources (time, money, and quality standards).

There is only one antidote when bitten by a unicorn!
The only antidote for being “bitten by a unicorn” is a solid, detailed plan. Typically, called a business plan, writing out the key elements, that people need to know about your services or products, is a strong start—the purpose of the business (why you are in business), what is your promise, why you’re the one to deliver on it, and who else is already doing it, and what will be different about you doing it.

Embed continuous improvement as a value into all aspects of the business. Include the 3-Phase Loop—implement, monitor, and adjust within a set time frame.

When you answer these high-line ideas, add at least three detailed bullet points beneath each one.

Recognize that the marketing plan, 70% of a full business plan, drives the business. Too many people have ignored this truth and attempt to run a business without a solid marketing plan. All “moving parts” must be in place before opening the doors.

A Written Marketing Plan Will Reduce Anxiety

The essential step is to begin. Details and ideas will follow. Think big and in technicolor and the rest will follow. Capture it all, then prioritize what will provide the biggest revenue. Now, we have to reality test the idea. Pass out samples, ask what people like, what attracts their attention? Make any adjustments for improvement (these can be part of a Phase 2 launch of new products or services)

Log Unicorn Sightings!
Get a shoe box and every time you “see” a unicorn, put the idea on a sticky note and put it in the box. That way it will not be forgotten and you can review the contents quarterly to check if it is good timing
for it.

Useful Unicorn Tips:
I use Evernote (when you enter your email, Evernote links us a gives us both free services!) for this exercise. This is how I capture articles and pertinent research for my clients’ projects. Organizing data is easy and keeps everything in one place.

The voice memo app on my phone is useful. To add functionality, Dragon Dictate (free download in app store) transforms voice messages into editable text. What a time saver not having to transpose notes.

The unicorn image is also a way to remember to have fun and use your imagination to keep ideas flowing and us engaged in our work. Happy sitings! —MC



As a credentialed business coach and analyst, one of my primary functions is to work with individuals and company managers to clarify where they are presently, where they would like to advance, and what tools they have and need to achieve their desired outcome.

I use a variety of tools to assess perceptions including Platinum Rule instruments, my experience and training in assessing behavior. My preferred tool is the EQ-i®, emotional intelligence inventory. I have specialized training on the EQ-i® and DISC Inventories and access to multiple other sources including a company culture index. I prefer the EQ-i® because it is the least judgmental instrument I have found. It focuses on strengths and areas of development related to the goals set by the individual. For example, people are more likely to apply the EQ-i®’s information rather than label themselves by the Myers-Briggs categories.

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