Category Archives: Vision

Mistake # 100: Living the top business mistakes

BtoB posted 5 top business mistakes of 2009. I happen to agree with all five.

I might even add one more. Remember how this year was a struggle for all businesses? We just experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression. We had hiring freezes, extreme budget cuts, layoffs (well, my company didn’t but many did), and many employees were working three jobs due to not being able to hire other resources. It was a tough year.

Don’t make the mistake of not hiring where the resources are needed. I needed a sales support staff since January. This decision was always pushed off because management always wanted to “see where we are at the end of the month.” Now, we’re at the end of the year and still needing one sales support staff. It takes months to train a person on our systems, get them beyond the learning curve, familiarize themselves with our business, and train them on answering customer questions. Now that things are feeling (and looking) like we are getting out of the woods and business is really picking up, it could be at the end of the first quarter when we finally have someone sitting in the chair.

Good luck to you and your business in 2010!

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Mistake # 88: Are you trustworthy?

I hope so. I mean, your company and what you do rely on the integrity you provide to your customers. Just think if you were perceived as another Bernie Madoff?!  Ugh!

In a recent article in CareerJournal.com, Stephen Covey stresses that you should (1) learn the skills that will earn you greater trust; and (2) don’t over promise what you can deliver. Particularly during these lean times with less resources and  short personnel, that is great advice.

Mistake # 78: Market via direct mail only

Those were the days. Back in the 70s, 80, and early 90s, you could mail catalogs and marketing pieces to your hearts content, sit on your hands, and watch the returns come in. Oddly enough, several of my clients who are high volume marketers, until recently, were still using this model. They just couldn’t figure out how to readjust their marketing strategy. Honestly! As if they didn’t see the signs about nine years ago!

Certainly, we may see the USPS gone by then. The post office has almost put itself out of business by setting postal compliance with NCOA (National Change of Address), and other Move Update requirements. Now,  postal workers may be going to a five-day delivery with fear of losing more than $6 billion in revenues.

But what will marketing look like in the future? Francis Anderson’s blog, Making a Connection, claims marketing may hit a wall by 2020, indicating that marketers will need to compete for a much smaller share of a large market. Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, advocates marketing your products and services to a very narrow and niche market. Both Anderson and Ferris could be considered true visionaries!

What caught my eye this week was the NY Times article on the growth of marketers moving into statistics. Moving into Web 2.0 and the digital world, companies are now turning to statisticians for turning their data into meaningful information to chew on, then move forward with products and services.

I don’t have any profound assumptions or answers to this movement. All I know is that I’m going out in about ten minutes to buy a lottery ticket!

Mistake # 77: Keep it complex and accomplish losing market share

It’s been evident after the release of iPod and iPhone that Apple is stealing more market share away from Microsoft. It’s been reported last week that Microsoft has just closed one of the worst quarters in its history.  

Apple, led by Steve Jobs, shaved off most of the complexity and made things much more simple by focusing on cell phone and MP3 space, in addition to their PCs. Microsoft can’t handle the competition. It is still too complex and cannot retain a focus. And, clearly Microsoft is unable to meet Apple’s match on cell phone or MP3 products.

Google is also struggling. The economy, yes, has much to do with it since people and businesses overall are still holding back on spending.

Google, too, is focusing on too much, creating many divisions within the corporation by taking on libraries, maps, utilities, and other off-shoots that are making Microsoft look like a simple cookie jar.

So, as an iPhone user, Mac lover, and Apple advocate, I promote being just like Apple. Keep it simple, stupid! Stay good at the core of what you do, do it well, perfect it, and market it well.

As for Google, well… I still use Yahoo!

Stay focused!

Mistake # 73: Fail to manage information carefully and securely

We have said it a million times:  “We are on information overload.”   In fact, we have been talking about this for more than a decade. In an article in Information Week in 1995, it appears that it was only going to get worse. It is.

As businesses grow, we have a variety of complex business partnerships.  As a result, we have issues that develop in order to secure these relationships. Primarily

This may be good for streamlining business, but it is hard to secure. While organizations focus on the technical controls around network connections, they forget about the people, process, policy, and contractual controls necessary to secure these relationships – technologically and internally within personnel so that competitors do not intervene.

Then you have the issue of offshore outsourcing.  Is sending logins and intellectual property overseas safe – just to ensure cost savings? What are the risks?

And, let’s not forget weather events. I happen to be in tornado country and the opportunity for a tornado to wipe out a computer system is likely. Not high odds, but likely.

I don’t recall the source, but after 9/11, there were voice lines and more than four million data circuits that failed due to infrastructure overload. Mobile cell phone calls were blocked, causing communications system failures.

Businesses that lose data from natural disasters are forced to fail, and/or close their doors. Businesses need a thought out plan in the event of natural disasters in the event something happens to their computer servers. I haven’t done the research, but it would be interesting to find out what the percentage of those companies that definitely have a written plan.

I’m overloaded. My head hurts…

Mistake # 56: Are you Facebook, or are you Starbucks?

What does social networking site have to do with a cup of coffee? Well, first, if you’re not part of networking on Facebook, well, then why aren’t you? Is there something wrong with you? I mean, if you carry a cell phone, use only your debit card for transactions so you don’t have to carry cash, and email daily to communicate, why aren’t you on Facebook?  Are you trying to make a statement?  

 

Farhad Manjoo wrote a great article on the e-zine, Slate, indicating that if you’re not on Facebook, you are making a statement; you don’t want people knowing ‘your business.’

 

So what does this have to do with a cup of coffee? Well, isn’t that where we went to catch up with someone? “I’ll meet you at Starbucks” used to be the common thread. But, with Facebook as a meeting place to connect with friends and family, why go anywhere? Do you think this is why Starbucks is considering another round of layoffs? Have we all decided, with the recession, that we can make our own cup of coffee at home, while reading what is on our ‘walls’ (and everyone elses), rather than being part of a Starbucks environment?

 

Well, it’s something to think about.

Mistake # 53: The McDonald’s mentality without a customer-focused business model

Does your company focus on the customer? It’s seems so obvious, but does it? And, are you adapting to the changing times with the customer in mind?

 

James Surowiecki did a superb article in The New Yorker on how newspapers are slowing joining the railroad industry as a model for lack of focus on the customer.  He clearly and concisely outlined how and why newspapers are becoming a dying breed, and that if newspapers realized that they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would not be joining GM in the bailout business model.

 

The problem is, we all crave information. We lean on the major newspapers for trends, issues, and breaking news. But, we want it now, for next to nothing, and want to eat it up at McDonald’s prices.  

 

I happen to like the tangible. I like to turn the pages of newsprint, go back and forth with those pages, and cut out articles, coupons, and other tidbits. I’m a rare bird, I know. But, my mother did it, my grandmother did it, and my great grandmother did it.  My boys don’t do it. But, then again, they expect to pull it off the Internet, send me the link, and then what do I do? I print it out.

 

However, I digress.  The times are changing. The economy is in the toilet. Is your company making strategic decisions with your customers’ needs in mind? Or, will your company end up with one limited model, as the railroad industry did years ago?