Years before it was penned “crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe in Wired Magazine I was involved with this concept and watched it work quite well. A friend’s small car dealership was looking for a new jingle for their radio ads. Instead of hiring a marketing company (or using an internal employee) they put the word out that anyone in Austin could submit a jingle and the winner would receive $1000 bucks! The response was incredible and the jingle is still being used 20+ years later. A key ingredient to this success was the location as Austin TX was/is packed full of singer songwriters. We’ll talk more about that later.
I started a business with a forty thousand dollar loan from a friend of mine. The business meteorically grew to over one million in sales per month within a year. I had nothing to complain about, right? Except… I was rotating my inventory 4-6 times a month. Cash flow issues were the order of the day. I went through three “bookkeepers” and as many accounting programs. Within a year and half I had over 50 employees and 4 locations. We tried to slow things down to only find that there is no “slow” with business. You’re either climbing or you’re declining. Within 4 years this same business failed due to bad accounting advice and practices, poorly designed loans, theft, and lack of a solid core business direction. We grew too fast. I should have planned to fail… let me explain.
Company evangelism is at an all time high. Businesses are not only expecting this of their leaders but now they expect it from all. Everyone… from the front receptionist to the part time warehouse worker. From engineering, accounting, sales, and operations. Is that fair? Is that even possible?
Poor choices are made daily… Temptations to take things too far are always there. What separates those that make correct business choices and those that don’t? Let’s take a look.
My wife needed a new vehicle due to medical issues. She was in Seattle for the operation. I had a week before I needed to get the vehicle to her. The mini-van needed detailed, rear bumper repaired, leather and heated seats added, and floor mats. I paid what they asked and was pre-approved. Pretty easy sale. While signing the papers I was asked to take the vehicle now and then bring back later. I resisted as this was inconvenient and unnecessary. I just wanted to pick it up when all the work was finished. Ultimately I was convinced to take it now.
Just Business… Nothing Personal… Of course business is personal. The concept that somehow when we call something “business” the personal touch to the end user and/or potential customer becomes less important is just wrong. I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a global conglomerate all business is personal or at least it should be.
Business owners, managers, and sales professionals can be blind to market changes and competition. In relying on their small group of influence they miss the big picture many times. Ego can also stand in the way. Small successes continue to reinforce small thinking. It’s like the frog standing in the pan of water and stays there as the heat is turned up until boiled alive.
I was in a retail toy store the other day and the owner randomly asked me what I thought he could do to improve his sales. He is leasing a nice store front in a small strip mall but off the beaten path. I told him that his location sucked. He looked shocked but ultimately agreed. I also told him that that’s OK. “I have successfully run plenty of retail store fronts in lousy locations.” I assumed he got a screaming deal on the lease and he had.
The new QR codes have become a powerful tool in marketing. I have designed a business card using my QR Code (see below) that I hand out in networking events to get more users to this blog for example. By using apps such as Google’s Goggles you can simply scan the QR code and it takes your always on mobile device somewhere. Now traditionally static advertising media becomes interactive. Very powerful stuff!
Business owners all over the world are looking for ways to cut business costs. I have compiled a short list of FOSS (Free and open-source software) applications, services, and appliances that could literally save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars upfront and annually.
Networking is certainly not new to business relationship building. The need for business relationships has been around as long as business transactions have taken place. The difference is now with social networking I can start relationships in minutes that typically took months or years before… if at all… anywhere in the world. Professionals and companies of all industries have adopted some sort of integration with social media. They use these tools in a variety of ways to promote themselves, ideas and products.