Just the other day while getting my hair cut; my barber told me about a new hire he is excited about making in 12 months. A longstanding client of his just quit her job and took HIM to a coffee conversation about the next chapter of her career. She was interested in going to school to join the barber trade. Her motives: personal connection to clients; knowing exactly where money comes (being able to directly influence it); great service (her husband loves his monthly straight-razor shave); and – most of all – creative expression.
Though her previous corporate paid her well; it was MISSING ALL OF THESE TRAITS.
Sadly; the number of times I have heard this story is too high to count! More and more people are drawn to the idea of supplementing or completely replacing their jobs with some form of entrepreneurial activity. If the popularity of Etsy, AirBnB, Uber, monetized blogs, and food trucks don’t show the numbers of new entrepreneurs; perhaps the mainstream TV shows like Shark Tank and Food Fortunes will do the trick.
20+ years ago Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles wrote an amazing book called Raving Fans – A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service. Its inspiration was the dreadfully low levels of service throughout every aspect of business. While a number of businesses of all sizes have experienced great success by incorporating their simple but powerful concepts; I still hear owners discard the message even while customers leave in droves.
In a slightly different area of business; the Gallup Organization has done extensive research on workforce development over the past few decades. Some of their most recent surveys reveal that customers aren’t the only ones left unimpressed. With only 35% of Managers being engaged in their work; it isn’t much of a surprise that only 5% of workforce is maximized? If it is too bold of a statement to say that our current business structures are broken; let’s agree that they don’t work that well and could use an overhaul!
One cause for this Technology advances like social media have made it much easier to communicate, and connect with audiences about what matters to THEM. This has always been important, but was very difficult to produce until recently.
Another advantage technology brought is significantly lower barriers of doing business. Operational licenses, LLCs, credit card processing, and hundreds of marketing outlets are all available within just a few clicks or screen-taps.
Technology even helped us overcome banks’ traditional models of financing; Micro-financing/crowdfunding sites like Kiva Zip, KickStarter, Indiegogo, and others allow people from your neighborhood or across the planet help fund your project.
While none of these systems are perfect; they continue to empower people to make business decisions in ways that will positively impact them along WITH their customers.
Regardless of what model you choose for your business; it is crucial to remember that 100% of customers are people – same applies to your employees. People bring unique strengths, creativity, personality, passions, connections, ideas, solutions and tons of intangible assets. Treating them like people and developing ways to accept, appreciate, and incorporate their contributions into your business goes a LONG way to keeping them excited and committed to helping you grow.
Creative explanations and gut feelings don’t often fit into performance check-boxes. It can be messy and unpredictable at times. The good news is that there are not only plenty of companies who have figured out effective ways to do it (Disney, Rackspace, Nordstrom, Zappos, Ritz Carlton, and Google to name a few); there are hundreds of books and training workshops that explain how they do it.
You can use technology to drive people to your business; or away from it.
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david r frick is a business artist and founder of SuccessVentures – a consulting firm focused
on helping owners and entrepreneurs through a holistic approach to growing companies
that meet the needs of contemporary business environments.