It’s already February: summer holidays are a distant memory, most New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten and as business owners we are back to the reality of an increasingly competitive 24/7 digital economy.
It is no longer good enough to just work harder. We have to work smarter: to make social media work for our businesses, to create value in a constantly shifting market place, to create customer engagement to drive sales and to innovate for future profits. If we don’t, we may just find a new kid on the block has swooped in with a new approach to our market and is stealing our share.
Talking to owners of businesses both large and small on a regular basis, I’ve noticed some key things that characterise the successful ones:
- They adjust to changes in the marketplace to stay relevant.
- They are constantly coming up with new ideas.
- They make change rather than wait around to be affected by economic and technology trends.
- They are life-long learners unafraid to try new things and possibly fail.
So how can you kick start your year with a focus on growth and increased profit? Here are five things that really do work:
1. Delight your customers every time.
As Myer continues to build its omni-channel offering, Myer CEO Bernie Brookes knows all too well the importance of evolving a business to meet the changing customer expectations for today that will lead to loyalty in the future. Mr Brookes believes customer service is critical to this success and emphasises the fundamental importance of building a positive customer service culture both in-store and online.
2. Put down your iPhone and pick up a paintbrush.
Author, speaker and social entrepreneur Gary Bertwistle says allowing creative juices to flow is critical to finding new ideas and solving problems. “Curious people find the next great idea. But when the leader is going from meeting to meeting, email to email, from dawn to dusk, it leaves no time for creative thinking,” he says.
3. Learn how to ask for help.
Serial entrepreneur, café owner and Sydney councillor Angela Vithoulkas says asking for help in business “is actually a learned skill – it’s all about being brave enough to hear the answers “. It avoids the pain of learning the hard way. “If you want to breathe life into your idea … wouldn’t it be great to find someone who could answer some basic questions at crucial times?”
4. Think of ‘hope’ as a business tool.
“Hope creates meaning, and people with meaning are more empowered and more focused. That’s what drives real business results,” entrepreneur Glen Gerreyn says. Having spent the last 12 years reigniting hope in young people through his youth seminar series, Glen says motivation is based on a sense of hope. “A motivated workforce has a consistent level of enthusiasm and will produce a high quality of work”.
5. Look after yourself first.
When you get bogged down in the stress of running a business, it can be hard to unplug. However, giving yourself time to reflect is critical. The way organisations function, connect with their customers and create profit is constantly changing, and with that change comes opportunity – but only if you give yourself the headspace to see those opportunities.
I have seen many businesses through the GFC and beyond batten down the hatches, cut marketing dollars and slash training budgets. But, if they are going to be in the right place to improve profits right now and ride the wave of the turnaround, then investing in developing themselves and their teams is probably one of the most important investments they can make.
It is for this reason I decided to work with the non-profit organisation Rotary to develop SHIFT2014 – a professional development event featuring 16 outstanding thought leaders who ‘walk the talk’ – an opportunity that entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders cannot afford to miss (and won’t break the bank).
Rotary is underwriting the conference so everyone with a desire to access cutting-edge expertise can, without paying the hefty price tag of similar commercial conferences.
So, I invite you to attend SHIFT2014 on 1 March at Sydney Olympic Park to hear from thought leaders including General Peter Cosgrove, Channel 9’s Ross Greenwood, Forbes magazine’s #5 Social Media influencer Gihan Perera and 13 other dynamic speakers to give yourself the opportunity to shift your thinking in 2014.
SmartCompany readers can purchase tickets, with an exclusive 10% discount, for $295 by visiting www.SHIFT2014.com.au and using the promotion code SMARTCO.
Tips provided by SHIFT2014 speakers. Read more about the speakers here http://www.shift2014.com.au/speakers