When you think of Hasbro, do you think of a toy company? Well if you do, then think again. They just released their first animated film My Little Pony, made by their new animation studio All Spark.
This development may not seem like big news to some people, but I believe it is a strategic shift that can teach us some fascinating business lessons for our businesses. It is a story of creativity, innovation, and diversification.
Hasbro started out making toys but eventually moved into licensing their content to people who made Saturday morning cartoons which of course led to cartoons like Transformers and G.I. Joe.
Now Hasbro has moved from licensing content to being a creator and a distributor of content and entertainment. So what can we learn from these lessons regarding growing our own business? Here are some questions to consider:
1. What do you have that can be diversified?
Because Hasbro has many toys like Mr. Potato head and games like Clue, they have many properties that they can use to create cartoons and movies. They have a great asset, content, and characters.
What goods or services do you have in your business that you can use differently, or in a more creative way?
For example, a big part of Amazon's business revenue is now server space, which they initially purchased for their use then realized that other businesses needed to store data. A new revenue stream was born for Amazon.
The Craisins product made by Ocean Spray is the skins of cranberries from the juicing process that in the past was a throwaway- a waste product. Now they take the skins, infuse them with juice and sugar, and a new product is created.
2. What if you eliminate the middleman and sell more directly to the consumer?
If Hasbro made revenue from companies producing movies from their content, they could certainly make more income by creating the movie or T.V. content themselves, keeping a more significant share.
What middlemen could you think about eliminating?
3. How can you partner differently with vendors and suppliers?
Even though Hasbro is making original live-action and animated movies, they are also still partnering with some movie studios on other projects.
In working with vendors and suppliers is there a different way to work with them? What would that look like and how would it be mutually beneficial to both of you?
4. Be open to and willing to change your strategy.
If Hasbro had stuck with just producing toys, the revenue would be significantly lower than it is today. Because they are eager to take risks to create many entertainment products they have generated multiple streams of revenue.
5. How can you change the rules of your industry?
Companies like Warby Parker, Uber and Harry's were industry disrupters who decided to try to change the rules of their industry. Hasbro- instead of remaining a toy company is now becoming an entertainment company.
What can you change about your industry?
6. Can you ask your customers for help or partnership?
Hasbro recently introduced a program called Spark Hasbro, where people can submit their ideas to Hasbro, with a chance to have their design and be made into a toy or a game.
Consumers send their thoughts to the website and have an opportunity to have their invention built into an actual product.
Are there ways your customers can help you by submitting new ideas and concepts for your business? I don't think many companies ask their customers very often for ideas.
7. Bring in a new partner who has different ideas.
Hasbro hired Josh Feldman, a movie entertainment veteran who came from Hollywood to run the Hasbro Studios division. He can bring his expertise for movie making and marketing movies.
Is there a possibility you could bring in a new partner with fresh new ideas or unique experience that can help grow your business differently?
The problem with most people who own businesses is that they are so busy working in the company that they rarely set aside time to think about the business. Think about these questions, have a meeting with some of your trusted team members and ask them for ideas.
Maybe you can be the next Hasbro of your industry.