As we adapt to the Connected Economy, we must determine what aspects of the old economy is worth keeping and what strategies should be toss out for good.
There are two lines of thinking that I see most often with companies and professionals – 1) toss out the baby with the baby water or 2) keep what has value and toss the rest. I must confess I have been guilty of tossing out the baby with the baby water in the past.
A favorite book of mine is “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud; he discusses how to prune unnecessary businesses, relationships and employees.
It is important to establish a vision and plan before you start cleaning house. Randomly pruning or cutting projects, business units or employees will not achieve the desired results you seek.
What Do We Keep –
Personal Relationships – Building A Community of Trust
Our personal networks and business alliances are important regardless if you are a business owner, college graduate or executive of a large corporation. Since the beginning of time having a strong community has always paid dividends. You must spend time to truly get to know people and keep their best interest at heart to build a strong community.
We all seen or have read networking business books. The common thread in these books is to take time, listen and share. Yet, I am always surprised when I attend a networking event and people pass out their business cards like they are dealing craps in Vegas.
In the Connected Economy, quality personal relationships will matter even more as we navigate our way along the digital highway to secure new business and employment.
Chris Brogan latest book “The Impact Equation” offers recommendations on how to build and develop solid communities.
It is important to listen and share good information with your community rather than constantly draining the group’s resources.
Networking and establishing personal connections is more than just collecting business cards, it is about building a community of trust.
Take the time to schedule coffee meetings or lunches, listen to your employees, business associates and friends to hear their goals and concerns. If you listen carefully enough and be willing to share information you will be amazed at what you learn and receive in return.
Hand Written Thank You Notes
Yes, I still believe it is important to write personal notes. We need to learn to curate good practices that transcend time. I know many business owners and professionals would say that handwritten notes are obsolete and emails are sufficient. I disagree.
Thank you notes help you strengthen your business and career relationships. A simple note of gratitude will have a greater impact than an email.
Two weeks ago, I received a handwritten thank you note from a Brooks Brothers’ sales associate. I kept the note for several days and was impressed that she took the time to send us a note. We didn’t spend large sums of money; we just purchased new shirts for the summer. Yet, our purchases mattered to her.
I still write handwritten notes today. My mother taught me at a young age to show prompt appreciation. Crane note cards are my favorite, simple high quality paper.
Investing in Talent and Quality
Quality matters and will always be in demand – quality products, services and relationships.
Alex Muse [www.startupmuse.com/2013/04/startup-mistakes-starving-your-startup] wrote about the lessons he learned during the launch of ShopSavvy several years ago. One of the lessons was to hire quality talent sooner rather than later.
Many times, we cut cost on talent (employees) and quality to save money and to improve our earnings. This temporary fix may solve your problem in the short term yet offers little value in building a sustainable business long term.
Even in our digitized society and economy, selling quality products and services are still in demand. Most customers will pay for quality.
The best advice I’ve received as a business owner is that once you have settled for less it is almost impossible to move back to where you were.
Think twice before you cut prices or use cheaper materials, explore alternatives and new opportunities that will allow you and your company to continue to hire quality talent and deliver good products.
Think and act carefully about what you are willing to accept and deliver.
What To Toss
Obsolete business models and dated strategies need to be tossed.
We lose our ability to gain a fresh perspective when we are too close to a situation. I know from experience and have learned to ask myself – am I too close to the situation.
We tend to see what we do not have or what we are missing rather than the opportunities that surround us.
I’ve witness corporate executive and business owners becoming so married to a business strategy that they were hell bent on making it work regardless of the cost.
Many industries and businesses are desperately hanging on to dated business models, products and strategies because they refuse to see that the world is changing. They continue to drink the Kool-Aid in hopes that the Internet will crash and Facebook will go bankrupt.
There will always be economic, business and weather cycles. Successful companies know when to adapt, sell or close. We are now entering a new cycle – the Connected Economy.
Leaders who listen to the winds of change know that they must determine how to proceed with the next wave of change.
Take time to look at your business with fresh eyes. Pretend you are considering buying your business – would you? If so, what would you change, keep or toss?
Adapting to the New Economy
I believe it is best to always prune out dated strategies, websites, processes and products while you are adapting to a new cycle. Freeing time, resources and money enables you to adapt and incorporate new technologies that can benefit your company, employees and clients.
We all know digital technology is here to stay and has become interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives.
Incorporating digital communication is similar to when Microsoft Office was introduced. We all learned Word, Excel and PowerPoint and now we cannot function without these computer applications.
Social media is a new method of communication that is quickly replacing email, texts messages and phone calls.
There is a balance with any technology or new invention. Understand how you and your business can use technology as a benefit not a distraction. Stay away from latest toys or gizmos that are a time suck.
Here are my tips and recommendations for incorporating digital technology into your business, these recommendations can also be used for professionals seeking to strengthen their career options.
- Understand that social media is more than just a marketing tool everyone is using. It is a new communication tool. Social media is changing the way we communicate, good bad or indifferent communication is evolving.
- Make sure you have a solid knowledge of this new form of communication and how it can help your business.
- Stay informed about new disruptive technologies or startups that could impact your business or industry.
- Incorporate cloud computing, project management or Internet based videos (YouTube / Google Hangouts).
- Avoid adapting quickly to new flashy tech tools that are really cool yet have no value to your business.
Quick word on hypercompetition – be careful about entering a pricing war. Earlier this year, I wrote about our race to zero. More and more companies are focused on pricing wars to the point that it is totally devaluing the products, company and related industry.
Once you compete on price it is almost impossible to raise your prices again.
Be careful and avoid training your customers to always seek the lowest price for your products or services. Standing firm at times can be difficult, but once you drop your price, profit margins will also decrease.
If you are concerned about long term survival and this seems to be the only answer, think again and then again before you and your team make this decision.
Remember to use your resources wisely, keep what is important and toss what is draining your company’s energy and money.
Related Blog Post