Published Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 | 10:38 a.m.
Updated Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 | 10:15 a.m.
I think we can all agree that economy is not what it once was. That is probably an understatement and comes as no surprise to most businessmen and women in America. What is a surprise to me however, is that many people have done little or nothing to change their businesses during this time. I still run into colleagues, who I know are hurting badly, that are still waiting for the economy to come back. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the economy isn’t coming back! At least not the way it was. The time for change is now. I am beginning to see signs that a new economy is on the upswing and there is no time like the present to position your business for the future. Here are some areas on which to focus:
Be nimble. To survive in the new economy, one must be flexible and nimble. Business practices and processes set in stone will not find their way into the new economy. One must be able to shift to the changing needs, schedules, and delivery methods for a more uncertain clientele. Every client’s needs will be different enough that a customized process and solution will be required. Businesses that can shift and move with the changing times will find tremendous success.
Be proactive. In the new economy, one will not be able to sit idle, waiting for clients to walk in the door. Competition will heat up as more businesses develop the competency and capability to work in new ways. To stay on the forefront of your industry, you’ll need to develop a research and development mindset, always searching for new trends and ways to get your services and products to your customers--many times in ways you did not anticipate. Combining proactivity and flexibility are keys to the future.
Learn to listen. In the new economy, empathy is the price of your ticket. If you can’t listen and really understand the needs of your customer, you’ll get nowhere. The world is tired of preconceived solutions to problems. It tolerated this approach in the more consumer-driven market of yesterday, but not anymore. Your ability to listen won’t be a differentiator, it will be expected. Now is a great time to practice your listening skills. Spend time with friends and colleagues really listening and trying to place yourself in their stories to feel what they feel.
Be purposeful. Make your moves purposeful. Become engaged with the marketplace. There are less resources than before to be spent on advertising and marketing, so to cut through the noise, your message will need to be targeted and authentic. If you are authentic and your actions reflect who you are, you’ll need less time and money to build your brand in the new economy. Key on the areas in which your business excels and build competencies in areas where the world needs your services. Focus on the services in which your business can provide value.
Provide value. With limited resources, value will become even more important. Clients will be more selective and only buy when they see a truly valuable proposition. Make sure that before you propose something to a client, it is more than something they need — it needs to be something they want — something they can’t live without. Research the marketplace. Make the connections between what clients and your business find valuable.
Be humble. The new economy is not about you. It is about your customer. Being humble in your interactions with your clients and the marketplace will go a long way toward ensuring your success. The days of winning business just because of your experience and education are over. People want to work with people with whom they can relate.
Thoughts for consideration:
- Can you make the transition?
- What more proof do you need to show you the economy has changed for good?
Until next time…