It’s September and as good a time as any to re-commit to your business. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of the year ahead. It’s a great opportunity to pit yourself against the doom and gloom and instead to link up with people who do want to do business, who do want to get things done and who do appreciate the need to pay each other on time!
I’ve booked in networking activities this term and urge you to do the same. Cut out the middle man and present yourself to potential clients and to people who can directly refer you business. You are your own best advertisement! Remember that if you refer on business yourself, that will enhance your profile and boost your chances of securing new clients.
Here are some tips from Harvard Business Publishing that I have found particularly useful. You can sign up if you wish at http://harvardbusiness.org/
Before You Call It “New and Improved,” Be Sure It Really Is
Companies love to introduce “new and improved” products. Yet, all too often these new innovations are useful to the company but not the customers they aim to serve. For example, a self check-out lane may help a company reduce the number of cashiers it needs, but may be a hassle for customers who are baffled by the new machines. Before you roll out a new service, feature, or product under the “new and improved” moniker, be sure to understand whether it is something customers want. Evaluate new innovations through the lens of the market – not just the lens of your organisation.
3 Questions to Assess Your Change Readiness
Leaders need to be on the lookout for what today’s quickly changing business landscape means to them and their organisations. Here are three questions to help you face the challenge of change:
1. Do you see opportunities others don’t? Change breeds opportunity. Don’t out-compete your rivals; reinvent the rules of the game by finding new opportunities first.
2. Can your customers live without you? Customers’ options constantly evolve. If your products and services aren’t indispensable, customers are likely to move on.
3. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? As a leader, you can’t afford to stop learning. Seek out ways to evolve and be humble enough to know you don’t always have the answer.
How to Innovate With Less
Even large corporations need to innovate like start-ups when resources and time become scarce. Here are four tips for innovating in a tough economy:
1. Forget the big budget. Innovation doesn’t have to cost a lot. Rely on open-source software, online market research tools, and virtual prototypes to test ideas cheaply.
2. Test in the real market. Don’t waste time endlessly perfecting ideas before you launch. Get a “good enough” design out there, then test and refine in the market.
3. Skip the business plan. Focus on making the idea happen, not planning every detail.
4. Make decisions and move on. Tough times require quick decision making. Don’t be afraid to wind down ideas when they start to fail. You’ll free up scarce resources for the next good idea.