The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
What Will Consumers Expect in 2017?
The world is changing and changing fast. Consumers are changing and changing fast. Are you and your business changing, or are you still doing things the same old way and getting the same old results?
It's easy, especially if your business is in a small town and doesn't sell much beyond its borders, to get into a business rut where you expect everything will pretty much stay the same as it always has; customers will come and customers will go but you'll survive.
Online stores, social media, smartphones and a wealth of new technology may not have affected your business a great deal yet, but make no mistake it will and soon.
Why? Because we live in a world of total availability and abundance - whatever we want we can find online and have it delivered to our door. We also live in a world where we can always discover the best price. If we decide to pay more it's because we see some value in doing so, be that convenience, better quality, superior service, or simply we like the company and the people we deal with. Shop local, buy local, the 100-mile diet are all still important to consumers but not quite as much as they used to be.
Experiences are becoming increasingly important, as is ease of purchase - Amazon knows this and is planning to open a new bricks and mortar store called Amazon Go early next year in Seattle. So what? Well this store will have no check-outs; customers will simply wander around the store putting items into their own bags and walk out. Just like that! How does it work? First they will have to have the Amazon Go app on their phone, which they scan as they enter the store. Once there, shoppers pick items off the shelf and the item is added to their 'cart' automatically. If they decide they don't want an item after all and put it back it is removed from their 'cart'. As they leave the store the app charges their credit card with all their purchases. No line-ups, no waiting, simple.
The important thing for small business owners is that this is an indication of where the retail world is going and knowing this and other new ways of retailing, manufacturing, warehousing and servicing will help you survive. Watch how successful, or not, Amazon Go is and it will tell you a lot about consumers and the future of retail.
Consumers are getting tired of seeing ads on their Facebook page for things they searched online for earlier in the day. Yes, it's cool that Apple Music can send them playlists based on their likes and dislikes, but only to a point. When it becomes intrusive it turns consumers off. As a small business you need to find a way that you can provide personal service without invading your customers' privacy.
In Peru, San Juan beer has historically featured an Otorongo jaguar on its label. To support this endangered species, of which there are only 6,000 left in the country, the company removed the image of the animal from 6,000 bottles of its beer during a major festival and replaced it with a cow, a pig, a dog, or a rooster. Consumers were outraged by the disappearance of the jaguar on their favourite beer and took to the streets to protest its disappearance both on the label of their beer and in its natural habitat, forcing the government to take action to protect the animal.
It's no longer good enough to recycle - consumers assume you are sustainable to at least some extent. Today it's about contributing, being a positive source of change. In your small business how can you contribute directly to the well-being of the planet and its people?
Smartphones are omnipresent, consumers are looking for the next wave of technology that will make their lives easy, save them time, give them a better experience. Anyway you can make buying from you easier will make your customers happier and more loyal. Remember, there's always an app for that! What's yours?
Too Much Choice
As we said earlier we live in a world of abundance, there is too much choice. Allow your customers to experience what you sell in some way. Educate them, make it meaningful, incorporate an experience and allow them to tailor what you sell to their specific needs.Consumerism is changing at an amazing pace, fuelled by incredible technological advancements. If you're business is still living in the 1990's or early 2000's, expect to see many of your customers drifting toward your more with-it competitors.
3 Ways to Increase Profits by Doing Less
The title of this article seems counter-intuitive - how the devil can we make more money if we do less? The easy answer is by being more productive, but that often involves shelling out more money for better machinery, a more ergonomic working environment, better staff training, more skilled employees, a whole new strategic plan - the list goes on. But, when you get right down to it, if you're an entrepreneur and the owner of your company you can increase profits by simply being more effective yourself. Small business owners are often run ragged by the day-to-day responsibilities of their companies. They work 100-hour weeks, miss their families and never stop thinking about their business 24 x 7 - sound familiar? What if there was a way to magically be more focused, have more energy, have a clearer head, feel refreshed, do more in less time and actually do it better? Over the last 15-years or so, scientists in the world of medicine have been researching the efficacy of meditation and mindfulness on everything from stress and depression, to pain and disease. The results are staggering. Spending 30-minutes to an hour meditating each day can seriously improve a person's ability to focus and achieve more at a higher standard. If the medical community is experiencing amazing results, why not the business world?1. Meditate for a minimum of 30-minutes everyday without fail.
Meditating reboots the brain. Most businesspeople feel they don't have even a few minutes to take time out of their busy day to stop and take a breath. But, what if by doing so your productivity increased, you were actually better at doing your job and you made more money? Meditating for just 20 - 40 minutes a day, gives the brain a chance to rest, which it can't do when you're asleep because of all those dreams and nightmares. Just because you're asleep doesn't mean your brain is!
Yes, meditation is difficult at first because those damn thoughts about work keep intruding, but after several tries you'll get the hang of it and your brain will switch into low-power mode. The brilliant thing is, when you come out of meditating, you don't feel tired you feel refreshed and raring to go! The answer to a lot of those problems and work challenges you were hung up on, all of a sudden become clear.
2. Practice being mindful everyday
If you start to meditate and get the hang of it - if you build it into every workday, you will be stunned at not only how effective it is but how good it feels and how much better you are able to deal with the stresses of running a small business. At that point you will want to know how to take this new way of life to the next stage. Meditating is about being mindful, but what if you could take the benefits of mindful meditation and experience them throughout the day while carrying on your day-to-day business activities?
Have you ever driven somewhere and not realized how you got there? Have you ever been eating a meal and been surprised to look down and find the plate empty? Well most of us go through life on auto-pilot. Our brains are bombarding us with thoughts, many of which are stressful - we worry about past actions, we worry about whether we'll lose that good customer, we fret about employees, we fixate on the future of our business - what if …? The reality? The past no longer exists, the future doesn't exist yet, so the only reality is the present. So, while we're worrying about what happened in the past and running future catastrophic scenarios in our head about what might or might not happen, we forget to live in the moment, in the present - the best and only real time we have. If we focus on the current moment we can focus on our business at this moment in time; what the customer in front of us is telling us, the well-being of our employees right now and we can be grateful for what we have right now rather than dwelling on past events we can't change, and future events that may or may not happen.
3. I will be compassionate to myself and others and practice equanimity.
Many of us beat ourselves up - we lack self-compassion. The problem is, if we can't be compassionate with ourselves we'll find it difficult to be compassionate toward others. When a driver cuts you off on the highway, pause and consider them as a person. Perhaps they are in a hurry because they are racing to the hospital because a loved one has been taken ill, or perhaps they are so stressed they didn't even realize they had cut you off, or perhaps they are just on auto-pilot. The vast majority of people are trying to be the best person they can be. Few of us are perfect, but most of us try to do the best we can.
Mental calmness, composure, evenness of temper especially when in a stressful situation is difficult. Simply pausing and taking three breaths in and out - noticing them - will bring you back to the moment and prevent you from that knee-jerk reaction.
Being more profitable in business can sometimes mean taking a step away, rather than running headlong into things. Take 40-minutes out of your day to clear your head and see how much better you can be.
Coach's Corner - The Importance of Saying Thank You
"Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." -- Margaret Cousins
Whether we are appreciating an employee's completion of a task, or a client's continued use of our services, or a customer's purchase, or a child's effort in doing a chore, saying "thank you" shows appreciation and recognition for what they have done.
Here are four reasons why it is important to sincerely say thank you.
Appreciating the individual for taking action.
Have you ever had exceptional service at a restaurant or in a store? The clerk or server has taken on an attitude of it being more than just a job, wanting you to have a very pleasant and enjoyable experience. By saying "thank you," even if you have also left a tip, will show them you have recognized and appreciated their efforts. They have chosen not only the job, but they have chosen the positive attitude they bring to it.
The need for people to feel appreciated and respected for their contribution.
Again, whether the task is for your organization, your company, or your family, people have a need to feel appreciated for their contribution. Yes, they may be paid for the job but if it is simply a monetary transaction then the positive attitude they bring to it may be left behind next time. John F. Kennedy once said, "We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives." The size of the difference is irrelevant, it is that they have made a difference and contribution to the greater good.
Making others feel good brings good in other ways.
Think about the times that someone, a boss, a colleague, a friend, or a family member has taken the time to say "thank you" in person or through a note or in an email. How did you feel? What are the chances that you will help out again or return the favour? When a person feels appreciated and respected, they are more likely to give back, or do something good for you at a later date.
Saying thank you is a simple form for practicing gratitude.
Random acts of kindness are truly unexpected gifts. When we incorporate intentional and ongoing acts of kindness to family, friends, employees, and co-workers by using the simple words "thank you" with sincerity and authenticity, we are truly practicing gratitude.
It is more than just merely thanking people, each "thank you" needs to be mindful and sincere. Incorporating the habit of thanking people in all areas of your life, shows that you are aware of the efforts, sacrifices, and attitudes that people around you are bringing to their job, chore, daily tasks, and responsibilities.
Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach
Motivated Coaching & Development