Today I read that Facebook is predicted to fail. Not immediately, but it has been suggested that it will be 20% of its maximum size by December 2014. The cause of the demise is that younger users have been moving away. Read more about it here:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-23/facebook-could-fade-out-like-a-disease-researchers/5214524
And there seems to be a debate about the value of Twitter. The company, not the tweets you send out. It is currently valued at 70 times its annual revenues. Refer http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-22/kohler-what-is-twitter-worth/5212376
So what does this mean for you and your business? There are two major points that I think every business owner needs to consider.
The first is that any business can fail. The biggest business on the planet in your industry is not safe. No business is too big to fail.
The second is the power of the customer. Your business must provide a need (or want) and take steps to make sure that the customer is happy. Existing customers have a habit of leaving. They change jobs, move house, retire … there are many valid reasons why their situation changes, but they will – sooner or later – stop buying from you. That just means you never stop looking for new customers.
Governments can get away with not always being polite because they legislate for people to use their services, they do not compete.
There are a number of attributes a successful business must have – and one of those is innovation. In this case innovation means additional products or services that add value to your customer, not additional problems for your customer.
How can you treat your customers better?
We’ve all heard the saying “As obvious as an elephant in the room”. Why not a giraffe? Surely being taller that would be more obvious? Or a rhino? More likely to charge around and cause damage that means more people are likely to notice?
The answer is contained in some ancient stories from India and other places where elephants wander.
It seems that one day five blind men happened upon an elephant and they decided that they wanted to know what one was like. (No, the stories don’t say how the men knew the elephant was there)
They decided to tell each other what they experienced. One touched a leg: “The elephant is like a pillar” he said. Another touched the trunk: “The elephant resembles a snake” was his opinion. Another who touched the tail suggests “It is like a rope” and so on.
In modern context it just means that people are aware that something is amiss, but they do not have the full facts about the matter. That’s why they know they need help to solve a problem, and that they cannot solve it alone, which led to your consulting skills being hired to help them in the first place.
Here’s what Wikipedia (TM) has to say:
“In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.
The stories differ primarily in how the elephant’s body parts are described, how violent the conflict becomes and how (or if) the conflict among the men and their perspectives is resolved.
In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, they also learn they are blind. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. If the sighted man was deaf, he would not hear the elephant bellow. Denying something you cannot perceive ends up becoming an argument for your limitations.”
So next time you see a group of people completely missing the point just understand that they do not have your skills or experience and so are only aware of part of their particular elephant.
Everyone looks for improved productivity, but how many of us know what to do to achieve the productivity we want? Here are five simple things you can do to bring your productivity to the level you want.
If you didn’t have big ideas you wouldn’t be in business for yourself or growing your career in a business. That’s exactly what’s needed there – your ideas have to be big or they won’t inspire you. But that’s not how you implement ideas. When you implement the idea it works best if you break the overall project down to its component parts. Let me give you an example.
Imagine you are building a new house. It cannot all be done at once – it is obviously silly to think of raising the roof before the walls are in place and yet we often try to do exactly that in our business projects. The first sub-project might be to prepare the ground work – dig the foundations, put the water and utilities in place, build the foundations, then move on to the framework of the house, then the floors and walls, then the roof and so on. Your business projects can be broken down in the same way.
That gives you a number of easy stages versus one perhaps overwhelming lump, and that means your projects start finishing on time and on budget, just the way you imagined them.
The second productivity boost is to delegate all tasks that do not directly generate income. This just means to consider what is the best use of your time – shopping for stationery or prospecting for clients? Walking around delivering leaflets or delivering product?
Consider everything that you do – are you the only one who can do it? If not – delegate it. Let someone else do it and concentrate on the things that only you can do. Establish the same discipline with your staff. If everyone is doing what they are best at then the chances are that a better job, less supervision, and a happier workforce will result.
The third productivity boost is to manage the time you spend on emails. Stop checking your emails every ten minutes! This is another case of best managing your time – do you make more profits by signing up a new client or reading your emails? Yes, sometimes the order comes in via email, but it will still be there when you come back – and that’s why it was sent via email, there was no urgency at the client’s! If there was a hurry the client would have called.
So get away from your emails and get back to your business. Spending more time doing what you are best at must bring more to your business.
Business rules haven’t changed much since the first trader opened their doors (or tent flap?) for business. What has changed is how we do things. It all used to be face to face, then mail and telegraph allowed us to do business at a distance, then the telephone, fax and internet accelerated that trend. Now much of what we do on the internet can be automated.
Every day there are more and more technology shortcuts that allow us to generate more income and profit from the same amount of time. Think of a repetitive task and almost certainly there is a computer, tablet or smartphone application that does it. The truth is that there is probably an application for all platforms and if there really isn’t then check back tomorrow! If you think you need it then someone has figured out that you are their market.
Productivity tip number six is to share this with your staff. Let them know that they will be given tasks that suit their skills, responsibility and authority where appropriate and clear instructions with a time limit where it isn’t. Let them know that you will train them in the latest developments in their industry, and that they will be given the opportunity to put that training into practice.
Now here is an extra tip, one that will add value to all of the first six – put them into practice. Change the way you do business. You may not agree with some of what is written here, and that’s OK – the real question is: what are you going to do with the stuff you do agree with? Every tip will add value to your business, given the chance. And that’s your next job – to give them a chance.
Good luck, and let us know how they help.
In my work as a profiler I notice that there is often a difference between our self-image and the image that other people hold of us. Come to think of it – that realisation was why I started this journey so many years ago! Let me tell you why I’m thinking about that again now.
We sometimes look at things we do and all we see is the positive aspect, when some of the people we know might see only the negative. This is the basic reason why a strength, taken to an extreme, becomes a weakness. Yes, it has to do with the differences in your perspective, and your previous experience, and it could be that neither of you really sees what really is! (Don’t forget – what we believe we see, hear, feel and taste are only impulses sent to our brain where they are interpreted!)
Let’s say you’re a confident type. You are very capable, feel good in your own skin, and like to try anything that seems interesting, challenging or profitable. Within the limits of not being immoral, illegal or fattening, of course! You exude energy wherever you go. Nothing ever gets you down, you remain positive and solution-focussed at all times. You happily tell people“I can do that”, almost regardless of what it is because if you don’t already know how then you know you can find out.
You may be surprised to know that this can appear to be arrogance. Other people might see only bravado, and when you think you’re helping others see only that you tale over. How do you find out how you are perceived? Ask some people who know you well and that means well enough to give you an honest answer, not just to have an opinion.
As it happens about 30 years ago I used to say I had a “healthy self image” and someone else at that time used the term “arrogant —–“! I was quite surprised when I heard that the first time, since I thought that I was just the nicest guy!
What that all means is just that there is a difference between the internal reality and the external reality, and it means that you need to consider how you are perceived – at least you do if you want others to actually understand what you really meant.
Another pair that are often confused is “comfortable” and “scared”. Some people really are telling the truth when they say “I’m comfortable already, I don’t need to expand my business any further”. Others really mean “I don’t know what to do or even where to start. I don’t want to rock the boat in case it has an adverse effect on my existing business”. In other words – they are stuck inside their ‘comfort zone’, and that isn’t always comfortable.
Stop and think before you tell people that you’re comfortable with the topic of conversation. Are you really? Or are you just afraid of change? Or of the unknown? Or of even finding out?
And here’s the real kicker – it is almost certain that either you or someone you know suffers from one of these misconceptions. If you can’t think of anyone you know who qualifies…. it might be you!
Now we know that – what do we do about it?
If the person is you then that’s easy – just start to see how others perceive you and modify your words and deeds so that the confidence and comfort show out without their negative side-kicks.
If it isn’t you then you need to get them to understand, and that’s because arrogant people don’t get the best out of life, they suffer because the rest of the population treats them differently from everyone else. Confident people are lauded, arrogant people are usually avoided.
People who live in fear of the future spend the greater part of their lives being concerned about something that will never happen! People who only think they are comfortable are self deluded and not having the level of success that they could achieve if they got out of their comfort zone (I call that being “Inside your Excitement Zone” – What happens when you get excited? What happens when you are outside your comfort zone? Both cause your breathing to get shallower, your pulse rate to increase, your face gets flushed… they are the same thing!).
So in both cases people need to know that they are not achieving their full potential, and now you know about this you’re the one who can tell them. Oh, and by the way – if a someone referred this article to you then you may need to gently ask them if they were trying to tell you something!
What other pairs do you think are sometimes mixed up?