As you know, we live in an environment where it’s “blink,” and you missed it. Still, there’s always an urgent need to keep on top of what is happening so that you can stay ahead in business. I own several companies and, candidly, I don’t think there’s a single day I’m not thinking about how to make things better and improve our competitive advantage in our industries.
A couple of days ago I read an article about a luxury yacht company that had been in business for generations, and although they had client orders on hand, in the tens of millions of dollars, they fired everyone and shuddered their doors. They were hemorrhaging money and not paying attention to the changing winds.
The reality is that I can sit here today and write what you want to be looking for in business trends and then a year from now, write the same sort of article with different ideas to keep an eye on as business and society evolve. Still, there are some areas that I think will remain constant and you should pay attention to in your company.
Always Pay Extra Attention to Millennials
For decades and decades, the “darling” of generations were the Baby Boomers because of their sheer size and buying power. As the Boomers are now seniors, the same can be said about Millennials. They will be, and already are, a force for years to come and they are the first generation that is pure digital natives. Your products and services should be marketed to them and how they think. By 2020, Millennials will have an estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power.
Get Comfortable With AI, IoT, and ML
What used to be buzzwords such as AI, IoT, and ML, are not anymore. They are not the future; they are the present. Most of you know about AI (Artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), but maybe you have not heard about ML (Machine Learning). Machine learning is when computers do things without being programmed to do it because they are learning it for themselves. Through machine learning, we are given self-driving cars, excellent web search tools, practical speech recognition programs and a host of other platforms. As technology evolves, all of these elements will play a more substantial part in life and business.
I have a preference for my team to be onsite, but for some functions and aspects of our work, these elements are outsourced. Currently 40% plus of American workers are doing some work remotely, without having to be present at their place of business all the time. This trend creates demand for adequately training remote employees through video conferencing platforms, especially for social media and programming positions. All that is required is a computer and Internet.
Get Past the Clutter
The way you brand your business is essential. People are drowning in data and information, and you have to be able to cut to the chase immediately. Branding, which encompasses the name, logo, etc., creates instant identification. With excellent branding, you are perceived as an authority, successful and trustworthy because you pay attention to the details. Also it makes prospecting easier. Customers find you. You can hire better talent. Candidates seek you out rather than looking to apply for a position with an unknown company. Because of branding, it is easier to create more businesses under the same name.
Opportunity Exists in Buying Businesses
There are more businesses for sale due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer and Millennials will be buying them and then reinventing the companies they buy. Keep an eye out for your competition because there’s always an opportunity in looking to buy an existing competitor. For instance, you can buy their entire client base, or perhaps they’ve excelled in e-commerce, and you’re able to bring that into your portfolio. I’ve successfully purchased some of my competitors, and it’s only helped my businesses grow.
“A man without a smiling face must never open a shop” or so the Chinese proverb goes. Truly, smiling goes a long way to lighting up the mood for a friendlier, more understanding conversation. This is true in business as well, especially when trying to make a business partnership. However, there are more business etiquettes beyond smiling and demonstrating these will show others that your customers and your business are worth respecting.
* Introduce everyone, even when in doubt – There is a proper way to introduce people to each other. First, introduce the person who is the most senior, using their full name and their job title or responsibility. Next introduce that person to the person who has lower authority. Make sure to also mention his or her full name. To end, you may mention some details about each other as a topic of common interest. When being introduced to someone, always stand up if you are sitting.
* A firm handshake – The way businessmen shake hands more often than not sets the tone between them. Giving a good, firm handshake will set a good first impression as it may eventually end up in a successful business partnership. If you are the host or the senior member, you should be the one initiating the handshake.
* Admit if you forget their names – Forgetting the names of people you were recently introduced to is not uncommon. If it happens, admit it and ask for it again as this shows that you give them importance.
* Sitting down for a meeting – Whether the meeting is in a restaurant or in an office, in a group or a one-on-one, it is best not to pull out the chair for anyone. In a business setting, everyone should dismiss social gender rules and treat everyone equally. When seated, never cross your legs as it may be distracting and disrespectful.
* Meeting in a restaurant – Contrary to business instincts, do not use your knife to break bread. Tear it off with your bare hands as this signifies your openness to your potential business partner. When finished with the meal, never push your plate away nor stack the plates. Try not to have any left overs as well. If your guest orders appetizers or dessert, you should be ordering as well. This avoids the potential awkwardness of having other people in your party eating and you have nothing on your plate. If you are the host, you should pay for your guest unless he or she insists otherwise or is against their company’s gifting policy.
* Dress properly – The way someone dresses is a form of nonverbal communication. Dressing appropriately for a meeting shows an automatic sign of respect for either the guests or for the host. Additionally, always check the dress code for an event as some events may require either more or less formal attire.
* Keep cellphones in your pockets – Never place phones on the meeting table and don’t use them during the meeting. Only answer calls that are urgent and excuse yourself from the meeting and take your call outside so you don’t interrupt the meeting.
* “Please” and “Thank You” – These two phrases show politeness in any conversation and it is all the more important in a professional setting. Saying “please” can be used as much as needed. “Thank you”, however, should be used once or twice as saying it too many times may lower its impact. As much as possible, give thanks to everyone individually after a meeting.
* Stay sober – Businessmen have lost reputations and careers because drunken behavior. Although none of the things said or done while drunk were meant, it is a clear sign of disrespect towards either the host or guests. Don’t embarrass yourself or your business. Know your limits and control your pace.
* Be genuinely interested – Always make eye contact in a conversation and make sure to pay attention to every detail the guest says. Take the time to ask questions as this shows that you were listening and interested.
* Double check emails – Simple mistakes can be made to derail a meeting or blow a deal. You may have date and time wrong for a meeting, left out some paperwork to be signed, or worse, your emails were sent to the wrong person and may potentially endanger the company.
* Use professional photos – When using your or anyone’s photos for business matters, always use a proper headshot. Businesses would need to look credible to other businesses.
* Greet everyone anywhere – Regardless of seniority, always greet people. You may never know that he may actually be your next business partner. When people greet you, it is imperative that you greet back.
* Don’t forget to smile – Just like the Chinese proverb, smiling works wonders in any occasion, whether in a meeting, during introductions, or in a business social gathering.
End on a polite note – When you need to leave, make sure you exit politely with either, “It was nice to meet you” or “See you at the next meeting”.
In today’s world, high-quality production and efficient employees are not enough to survive the hard-hitting business atmosphere. Business houses need to be the fastest when it comes to delivering the final goods. The faster your products reach the market, the higher will be your profit margin. Hence, depending solely on the company’s labor resources for either transporting the raw materials or distributing the final products would not be a smart decision to pursue by any production manager.
Entrusting the job of delivering your goods to a courier service provider will not only make sure a hassle-free production but will also help you concentrate only on the core manufacturing processes. However, before you select any random courier service provider for business deliveries, make sure that the particular vendor is your correct choice. But how?
Here are 4 necessary factors to consider before moving forward with any courier service provider:
#1 Availability on a single call
If your service provider sets restrictions on its availabilities for picking your parcels or items, then you need to say no and start seeking a better option. A reliable courier company is one who is readily accessible 24*7 and has several local delivery branches. If it has an efficient chain of agents then you can rest assured that you will have on-time delivery of your products.
#2 Know the weight limit in advance
Most of the times service providers do not clarify the maximum weight of parcels they can deliver. This creates a lot of confusion at the time of packaging and final delivery. Thus, one should clarify the limitation of the package weight before signing the final agreement.
#3 Ability to track your delivery
Since time management is the most dominant factor in the process of production, any kind of delay and lack of access to delivery updates are completely unacceptable. As the customer, you should be able to get minute-to-minute updates of your parcels. Tracking your delivery via app, website, email or phone will help you know the exact time when your product will be delivered.
#4 Get insurance for your package
Insuring your deliverables is must to ensure that even in worst case if your package is damaged, is misplaced or goes missing, you can claim for the loss. Also, as soon as a company provides insurance for your package, its accountability towards you is ensured and you know that your products are now in safe hands.
In this tough competitive business world, managing everything single-handedly starting from purchasing raw material, manufacturing goods to delivering the final commodities is near to impossible. According to business experts, managers should delegate the task of transporting their final products to a courier company and focus on other important business functions. However, one needs to compare and evaluate first to pick the best service provider for his business.
For a daily shop-o-need cycle, a small investment to ‘try-out’ the new and be in ‘trend’ is perfect. But, what about bigger and larger decisions for your office or which window blinds to invest in while renovating a home or which agency to trust your SEO campaign or which chat software to install for your customers or which builder will give you a dream space. The large investments demand a trusted partner, and here, we are sharing the top things you should give importance to before reaching the decision.
1. How big is the team? – Let’s continue working with the above examples if you are looking to get a Hanas Blind installed, a small team is OK, but to purchase one or two floors in a commercial building, trust a builder with a larger team. Your need should define the team size. Why? A bigger team means, more people, more ideas and a better-managed team at both micro- and macro-level. But, in rare cases, a bigger teams can mean, more chaos.
2. What are the skill sets? – Once again, this is a basic requirement – the company or team you wish to hire should have the necessary aptitude to deliver. If you are looking for someone to drive your digital marketing campaign, knowledge of online marketing tools is a must – even if it’s a start-up. A person starting a business may be able to meet the demands of the profession, while an established player’s creativity has been tested, time and again, and they can be result-driven as per requirements.
3. What kind of experience do they have? – A wannabe entrepreneur may not have the experience, but their creativity may not be a match to the seasoned players. Once again, it all boils down to what you need! Creativity in decorating your home is welcome, but a seasoned player who knows the ins and outs of building bye-laws is required when you build a commercial space. Keep in mind, however, there is always an overlap between real-life knowledge and bending of rules to stand over the head and shoulders of others.
4. Have they worked for your industry before? – This question may not be applicable to personal purchases but to hiring agencies and personnel chosen for a job. Knowledge of the industry easily translates into a team well-versed with the challenges and benefits to focus on your industry. Don’t be hesitant, ask for references from old clients or customers, and if possible check-out the work they have done earlier. However, they should not compromise on the value you and your company represents.
5. Are they open to communication? – Communication is not all about speaking, it is also about listening. It is a two-way street – you have to articulate your ideas and dreams clearly. And, then you have to keep your mind open to the suggestions of the agency you want to hire. In the initial talks, you can gauge, how attentive they are when listening, and how clearly they state their ideas to you. A good agency or company will be judging you on these parameters.
6. Are they discussing achievable deliverables? – Once again, the line between the two is so thin, that is quite possible for you to be misled. When discussing the deliverables, say the increase in traffic from an SEO campaign, are they just saying, “Trust us, we will increase the traffic.” Or are they concentrating on telling you – 1x growth is possible in the next six months if these steps are implemented. The latter may come back and say, results were not achieved, because of lack of support, but then they will have to back-up each piece with evidence giving you an unbeatable experience for the future.
7. What are people saying about them? – That’s why word-of-mouth references and online reviews are so very important. These are genuine experiences from people who have associated with the company, and are either bowled over or are filled with anger. The fact is most agencies and sellers working can deliver good to outstanding results. But, there will always the ones that fell short of expectations – people messed up, planning was not right, communication stalled, etc., etc. Talk to as many people as you can to gauge the average success and failure rate.
8. What is their demeanour? – Do they smile often while speaking to you, even while making the presentation to you? Are they relaxed while communicating or are all of them tensed up? Share incorrect information or demand an outdated process, do they agree while secretly rolling their eyes? Or do they stand up and correct you, sharing with you the reasons why your ideas need to be ditched? Any intelligent person knows they need a person who smiles, is relaxed and is not averse to telling off their clients, in a reasonable manner. You may have heard of arrogant geniuses, with no manners, but those men and women are few and far in between, and if you are working with one of them, then you should be ditching this write-up and spending time on benefitting.
9. What are the services included? – Take in writing the services included and not included. If you planning an SEO campaign for the first time, you need to study the industry, ask questions of the experts, even the silliest one and get them answered in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. These are to be discussed before finalising or signing the deal. As was mentioned earlier, there can be no compromise on the communication between you and the person who you are dealing with
10. What is the proposed budget? – This has been saved for the last, for the simple reason, you know the heart of a purchase rests on the cost. You may be a person will pockets as deep as the Pacific Ocean, but even you would not want to waste your money on things which do not bring value – in terms of beauty or functionality to your home or office. Ask for the costs to be incurred, and please opt for a smaller or cheaper option, if you are in doubt about payment.
In conclusion, hiring an agency or a company may be a part of the shop-o-system, but that system rests on the shoulders of responsible salespersons, account managers and clients. Yes, you have to be careful while choosing a company, but your contribution is just as responsible for the final success.