Eureka! Ranch and Our Busineses: What happened and why it saved us time

Do you remember that game we used to play as kids called Chutes and Ladders? Yeah I know, who doesn’t right? Well, Eureka! Ranch is like the really, really big ladder in Chutes and Ladders we all hoped to land on. Except this time, no dice are required. My husband and I had the chance to work with Eureka! back in July (and we still are…more on that later) and we had a truly life-altering experience.

Woah Cole! Life-altering? Come on—how much did these Eureka! people pay you to say that? Not a dime, peeps, not a dime. This is an absolutely true account of what happened.

My husband and I own Imperi Partners. Imperi Partners is a holding company for all of our other businesses like Doth Brands, Doth Greyhound, Doris Doth and a couple other odds and ends. We realized that even though all of our ventures were profitable and in the black, we needed something to jump forward and really take the cake. And, as much as I think most business owners are reluctant to admit, that ‘jump’ forward wasn’t going to come from the people who have been involved day in and out for years and years with everything from accounting to customer service. (Come on, we all think we’re the best business owners in the world, but after a few years you start to get tunnel vision.) So, we chose to be proactive about our desire to move something forward fast and began working with Eureka!.

Let me ask you this—at your company, does your boss ask you to help figure out the next move? Are you asked to help expand operations? No? Well, you probably should be.

Eureka! recognizes that some really great ideas and insights come from people NOT directly involved with the heart of new idea. Victor and I were relieved to hear this because, seriously, we’ve been dealing with and managing all of our businesses for the past couple years and were getting really REALLY incapable of being creative about them anymore. Eureka! let us know that when we showed up for our Winning Ways session, we should bring as many people as we wanted. So naturally, we brought our Mommies and Daddies and siblings, and a few other people too. (Admit it, you might think your parents are the LEAST likely people to understand your business ventures, but remember you were cut from the same cloth; so don’t dismiss them so quickly.)

Eureka! had about 8 or 9 of their own people there for us too, so we magically had about 20 people working full-time for us for a day. And no payroll! BOMB!

In the morning, we all went through their Profit 101 Seminar, which is free. You should absolutely go—you’ll get a lot more done doing that than sitting in your cube obsessively checking Facebook. [here’s the Profit 101 schedule]

Then, lunch time! All I need to say is that they have a freezer just for ice cream and a really, really large fully-stocked bar. Brain food to the max.

After lunch, we got to work on Imperi Partners. First, Victor and I presented what all 11 of our ideas and businesses were. We also let everyone know what our long term goals were for Imperi Partners and what we’d ultimately like to see happen. Everyone listened and some even took notes.

Then, our ideas were divvied out among our masses. Each person became the temporary ‘CEO’ of our idea/business and they had the whole afternoon to devote to development of that concept. Eureka! walked everyone through proven exercises that increase creativity to help develop our concepts in the best way possible. If you are thinking about a piece of paper and a pen and someone with a stopwatch shouting ‘OK Team! Let’s Brainstorm!’ then you are wrong. That doesn’t work, and it’s annoying. You can learn what those exercises were EXACTLY on the Eureka! website or by attending their Profit 101 Seminar.

A few hours later, each of our concepts were fully developed and succinctly summarized on a single sheet of 11”x17” paper. Can you believe that? Wouldn’t you love to see your business summarized on a single sheet of paper? So much more manageable….

Here is a photo of Victor and I evaluating all the sheets of paper.

We had to decide which two we wanted to run through their Merwyn Business Simulator. Merwyn, developed by the magic-dust encrusted Doug Hall, is the most accurate predictor of a businesses success. Here’s some proof.

We chose one idea we sort of expected to choose and one that, honestly, we almost didn’t even bring because we thought it was dumb. It’s funny how things like that happen. Then we all hung out for a few and went home.

Two days later, we went back to see the results (the verdict on whether these ideas were worth pursuing or leaving behind in the dust.) To be honest, we weren’t nervous—we were so exhausted from everything that had happened at Eureka! two days prior. SO much had been done to each of our businesses, and Victor and I had some new perspectives on things, we just hadn’t even had time to digest everything.

We arrived, patted the massive bar in the entryway a few times for luck, and went into their giant creative room and popped a squat on a couch. Then we saw them, two stacks of five sheets of paper each. Ten pages total. That was it?

Yep, each idea’s results were concisely summarized in a five-page document. I guess I was expecting something more like a 70-page business plan. Needless to say, I was kind of relieved. Why make something more complicated than it is? It’s either good or it’s not.

The first idea we picked was revealed first. It was a good idea, and our hands-down favorite of the bunch. Merwyn said it was basically just a good idea- not bad, but not amazing either. The projections we received for our first 24 months in business were pretty good. We decided to put that on hold for now becuase it requires investment in some equipment, and we felt as thought that didn’t fit into our lives at the moment.

Needless to say, we were still shocked. Especially when we found out the majority of ideas that are run through the Merwyn system fail.

Our second idea was also a success, and actually scored better than our first concept. Merwyn estimates this as being very profitable. We really couldn’t believe it. In a way, we, as underdogs (come on, if you’re in your early 20s and you’re trying to build a business of any kind, you’re an underdog) thought we’d get a nice pat on the head and a couple of ‘good try’ handshakes on our way out the door, but we were met with equal surprise. Sometimes, the Merywn system’s results surprise the humans on the other end of it, and this was certainly a surprise. We are hoping our second concept will be the marketing and promotion industry’s answer to bottled water.

So, that was our experience with Eureka! Ranch and the Merwyn system. For us, it was a great experience, even if our ideas wouldn’t have come out with such great projections. We literally moved things forward several years in just that one day alone, and that—well, as someone growing a business (or several), that’s something you can’t put a price on.

Our Eureka! stuff didn’t end there. We’re in the middle of eight weeks of their Trailblazer program. It’s a one-hour session each week where they hold you accountable for what you’re doing. In our case, we’re trying to move this product to market really quickly, and Eureka! is helping us keep our heads on straight and move through bumps in the road as smoothly as possible. It’s absolutely wonderful.

If you have an idea, or a business or a product; you should really go introduce yourself to the people at Eureka!. They’re 20 minutes outside Cincinnati and really friendly. They’re used to working with business owners who have never done anything like this before, and they’re also used to working with big fish like P&G, Nestle and M&M Mars.

Do you have anymore questions about this? I think I answered most of them here, but if you want to know something else, just leave me a comment.

————————————————————————————————————-

Thanks to Erik Darmstetter of SalesBy5, I bummed a few photos off him for this post. Also, sincere thanks to Eureka! Ranch and the staff. We are really lucky to have crossed paths with you and we look forward to working with you guys again in the future when we’re ready to develop our next idea.