THE BLOG
05/30/2013 05:06 pm ET | Updated Jul 30, 2013

How to Reboot Your Old Business Idea for a New Age

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If you watch one of those NASA videos of an exploding super nova, it's useful to recall you are seeing something that happened millions of years ago. It is amazing, powerful and very, very old.

Is the idea that founded your company like a super nova? Perhaps it is still powerful and burning brightly, but how long will the light last?

Maybe it's time to reboot your business idea for the 21st century. The question is, how to go about it?

As I lecture around the world on innovation I exhort my audiences to realize that just one person can change their organization. Hiring one new person, particularly one who is very much NOT like you, can change everything.

Think of how Lou Gerstner changed IBM, how Alan Mullaly is changing Ford, or how the return of Steve Jobs changed Apple. One guy changed the course of Expedia and caused it to pass Travelocity.com. One guy kept bugging the Expedia CEO to change the system and offer discounted, dynamically created tour packages. When it introduced them, Expedia doubled its sales in two quarters, passed Travelocity like it was stopped, and Travelocity has never caught up!

If one person can change your company, perhaps the best way to move your company ahead is to hire a kid. We are the first generation in history to learn from our kids. They are both inventing and teaching us about technology in a knowledge transfer of unprecedented speed and scale.

In the small town where I live, my insurance agent is a pillar of the community. He's always visible -- in the Rotary Club, at school functions. He even sponsors a parade float. He did all right, but used decidedly old-school tactics to keep his name before the community.

He realized that today, that simply wasn't enough. He had to be online, participate in social networks and have great videos on his website. So he hired his kids to do just that. As he put it, "I knew I needed to do it, but I didn't know how". In this case, the knowing was enough; he found the resources to take his company to the next level.

I hear from small businesses all the time that they just don't know where to start with mobile and social and even ecommerce. The best way is to bring young people into your organization and let them run with the ball.

As they begin to challenge the status quo and push you to change your model, please never say, "But we've always done it that way" or "We'd never do it the way you suggest." Instead, engage in debate as equals, and be prepared to lose a few times.

Someone once said, "Innovation is like fencing. Fight like gentlemen." That's great advice. Debates create sparks, and sparks create ideas. Just don't let it get personal.

As you begin to move to a new model, make sure you don't have one negative person in your organization holding it back. Negative people are energy vampires. They kill ideas; they stall change; and they simply outlast positive people. As important as it is to bring in new faces that can push for change, it is equally important to ask that negative person who just can't let go of the past to move along.

To keep your super nova burning brightly, start with one person who will challenge you. If you are open to the change he or she will create, you may have another super nova on your hands.