Being a leader means that you need to inspire and influence others to work together towards a common goal. However, there are many internal and external factors which influence your leadership style.
Internal factors – The culture of your business is based on its vision and
values which then evolve into strategies and decisions that ‘set the scene’ for how your staff will function in your organisation. Consider how your business’s vision and values impact how you need to lead to achieve these.
Your business’s competitive advantage strategy also dictates how your staff will produce your products or deliver your services. Whether your business offers the cheapest or the best quality, this will impact how you inspire or influence your staff to interact with your product or deliver your service.
All business thrive on the information they have about how the business runs and who their customers are etc. How your business manages this information determines how your staff can access it. For example, if this knowledge is all in your head, then they are always reliant on you to provide this information. If you get it out of your head and into policies, procedures and databases, then your staff can ‘self-serve’ and contribute to this knowledge.
The communication systems you have are also important as people absorb messages in different way. Using a range of communication systems eg meetings, emails, briefing documents etc, will ensure that your message has many ways to filter through to your staff.
External Factors – All businesses are impacted by globalisation in one way or another, eg new international competitors. The political and economic environment of your region also impacts your business, so it is important to know which government policies and laws which affect it.
Other external factors include the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, the threat of new entrants if the entry and exit barriers of the industry are low; the possibly of other substitute products/systems offering better value propositions, as well as the competitive advantages of your competitors – so keeping an eye on what happens outside your business.
While you may think you control your own leadership style, remember the many and varied internal and external factors which also influence it.
Creativity and innovation play an important role in the survival of any business.
Creativity is the connecting or viewing of things in a different way than the status quo. Creativity is not only about solving a problem, but also about providing better aesthetics, happiness or for the betterment of people, animals and the environment in general.
Innovation is about taking creative ideas and/or processes and turning them or making them into reality – which is the backbone of any successful business.
A good example of this is when Jack Ma, a Chinese school teacher, used his creativity to believe that he could revolutionise how the Chinese could buy and sell online. However, the real innovation happened when he brought together a team of people who had the skills and processes to make this vision happen through his company, Alibaba.
Where does creativity come from?
The application of creativity requires three components (Amabile 2012):
Domain-relevant skills – some expertise in the area of creativity
Creativity-relevant processes – skills and attributes to be a divergent thinker
Task motivation – the ability to thrive on intrinsic or ‘self-satisfying’ motivation
Everyone can be creative, however, creative people can be described as having the following traits:
Come up with more than one idea or way of doing something
Using a variety of thinking styles to see things differently
Do not automatically follow conventions or assumptions
Are intrinsically motivated
Appreciate diversity and uniqueness
Are willing to push the boundaries and take risks
Unlocking the barriers to creativity
Unlocking the barriers to creativity is understanding what creates the barrier to creativity in the first place, such as (Davis, 1999):
Learning and habit barriers – humans are creatures of habit which they have developed through positive responses to correct behaviours – this barrier provides a ‘comfort zone’ of familiarity
Rules and traditions barriers – social, cultural and legal norms are needed to guide human behaviours, however they also present restrictions on how people feel they can act in different situations
Perceptual barriers – through a lifetime of learning from, and being influenced by others, humans have a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way based on their interest, biases and values
Cultural barriers – social expectations and pressures to conform to the status quo, and the desire to know what one’s identity is, means humans are susceptible to following what others have done before them
Emotional barriers – emotional blocks of fear, anger, love, hate, and anxiety have the ability to block a human from thinking clearly or beyond the status quo
Resource barriers – shortage of essential resources such as time, money and supplies, can create a demand or conflict for these resources, preventing people having the freedom they need to be creative
Luckily there are many ways to prevent barriers to creativity, such as:
Reducing competition between people and asking people for input into how a team functions
Providing people with the opportunity to practice being creative in a safe and non-threatening way so they can play to their ‘A’ game
Helping people appreciate how other people process information so you can tailor communications so the message is understood more clearly by the receiver
Individual vs Group creativity
Individual creativity has traditionally been seen to be focussed on a lone genius who was sought after to fuel the innovative energy room of an organisation, such as Steve Jobs at Apple or Bill Gates at Microsoft.
It is now, however, more widely accepted that group or collective creativity, whereby people from diverse backgrounds, personalities and experiences are brought together to come up with and produce new ideas, is the secret to a business’s innovative success
Whether we participate in creativity as an individual or within the context of a group is a bit like the question: “Which came first – the chicken or the egg?”
Consider this – an individual’s creativity is built upon how their senses have made ‘sense’ of the world around them, and the people they interact with. While the group is made up of individuals expressing their creative ideas and solutions, and it will be the skills of a good facilitator who will be able to harness these ideas to take them to the next level.
An example of this is where organisations allow their employees individual ‘R&D’ time to work on a project of their own creation. However, it then requires the individual to work and rely on the ‘team’ and other key stakeholders (eg customer participating in prototype testing etc) to bring about billion dollar creative ideas.
This model of individual creativity leading into group creativity is a great motivator for employees to want to do great work as it provides them with a challenge, a feeling of accomplishment and an opportunity to be acknowledged among the crowd of employees.
Creating the right environment
Core elements to support individual and group creativity can include:
Openness to experience new things and ideas
Passion with emotional stability
Adopting ‘right brain’ thinking strategies
Openness to share information
Facilitation and effective leadership
While everyone is creative in one sense or another, it is important for business leaders to lead their organisation’s creative capital, both within individuals and groups, by facilitating the opportunity of right brained thinking people to work effectively with left brained thinking people .
This can be done through Stanford University’s Jim March’s Theory of Novelty (Amabile, 2008) by providing:
Stack – the time and resources to experiment
Hubris – managers having the confidence to take educated risks
Optimism – having a shared vision which is better than the status quo ______________________________________________
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help youunleash the creativity which leads to innovation.
This means that paid online marketing is a sensible choice, but with so many paid online marketing options, what should you consider when investigating these for your business? And, are they all the same?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is made possible through the data collected by search engines such as Google about people’s online search activities. This data is then analysed by special software to ‘predict’ the type of information people are seeking when they use different search terms.
Online marketing companies, such as Google Adwords, then rank these search terms or keywords according to their frequency of use. Businesses then ‘bid’ for these keywords so they can linked them to their online adverts so their online ads rank higher when someone uses these keywords in an organic search.
SEM through Google Ads
Google Ads uses sophisticated SEM algorithms to place a paide online business ad in a way which is not too dissimilar to placing a traditional newspaper ad, in that the content of the ad needs to be right to capture an audience’s attention.
What makes Google Ads more powerful than traditional newspaper ads is the use of ‘keywords’ to narrow down where and when the online business advertisement is placed. These keywords are then matched to the search terms (or keywords) which a person puts into an organic Google search.
For example, when someone type ‘Sydney accommodation’ into Google, the search results not only bring up the most popular Sydney accommodation websites. The search results also show ‘paid’ online ads from businesses which have bid for the keywords ‘Sydney accommodation’.
While this process sounds simple, the skill of writing an effective Google Ad and knowing how much to bid on the keywords which will place this ad in the right spot is quite technical. These types of paid online ads are also very limiting in how information is presented as you can only use a certain amount of text and no images.
SEM is also something which takes time before the ranking of the online ad can be verified to ensure it is linked to the keywords appropriately eg when someone types in ‘red shoes’ into Google, then only online ads selling ‘red shoes’ comes up.
You should either outsource this paid online marketing to an experienced and successful SEM company, or be willing to do the leg work of learning the art of SEM, and then spend the time testing your approach. If you select the DIY method, then you also need to stay on top of any changes of how search engines rank keywords for online ads. Marketing through third party websites via Google Adsense
Some websites, such as blogs and eNewspapers etc, allow third parties to advertise on their website to help generate an income. Placement of online advertisements on third party websites is usually done through an online ad network who offers financial incentives to third party website owners. The most popular ad network is Google Adsense. The initial setup process for Google Adsense is usually quite simple however Google Adsense offers limited one-on-one support for small business advertisers. With these types of paid online ads you can create visual ads containing images and different font types/styles or have text-only online ads.
The majority of Google Adsense ads are CPC (Cost/Pay per click) ads so a business is only charged when a website visitor clicks on an online ad. Creating a Google Adsense advertisement is very similar to creating a Google Ad, as it can be done through your Google Adword account. However, like Google Adwords, this type of advertising is best outsourced to the professionals unless you are willing to do the legwork to get the success you are aiming for. Marketing through social media sites like Facebook
All of the big social media sites such as Facebook now offer targeted online ad campaigns. Although these sites are not search engines per se, they do collect information or “data analytics” about their users like a search engine would. This data then allows these sites to place targeted paid online ads on their users’ Facebook page or in their stream according to their users’ demographics and/or previous activity.
Social media marketing provides a much simpler option for businesses to market online then SEM via Google Adwords or Adsense due to the increased number of people who spend their time connecting and keeping up to date with what their social network is doing. This activity allows sites like Facebook to have a captured online audience to market to.
Instead of having to bid for keywords, Facebook Ads work on ‘impressions’. That is, the number of people Facebook can show a business advert to in their Facebook stream based on demographics such as gender, region or interest. This is much easier to determine than how people are ‘searching’ for things. Social media marketing has a lot more opportunity to be creative and visual compared to a search engine online ad.
Marketing through targeted emails
Done well, traditional online marketing such as email campaigns are still a very effective digital marketing strategy. This is because effective targeted email campaigns are sent to people who have subscribed to and want to receive this type of information through their email, as opposed to relying on a software algorithm trying to predict and match ‘keywords’ or through ‘filters’ which match people’s interests. Targeted email marketing campaigns can be managed through your existing email account, however, online email campaign services, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact, offer additional benefits like providing more professional formatting and layout through customisable templates.
You can also then send more than 500 email address per day (this is usually the limit placed by email services such as Gmail and Hotmail to send in one day to help reduce spam). Email marketing services also allow you to track how many people open the email, and which links they click on. They can also act as a quasi-customer relationship management (CRM) tool as they can keep all of your subscribers’ contact details in them. Targeted email campaigns do require a database of subscribers which you can create from your existing customer details. It is important not to add people’s email addresses that you haven’t dealt with before or who haven’t subscribed to your list to avoid being reported as ‘spam’. For more information read about the key elements of the Spam Act here – https://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam/Ensuring-you-dont-spam/key-elements-of-the-spam-act-ensuring-you-dont-spam-i-acma
Marketing through specialised directories
Before the world wide web enabled us to search for a business online, people used telephone and magazine directories to advertise their business. Luckily the function of a hard copy business directory like the Yellow Pages has now been replicated online through sites like True Local, MenuLog, Wotif etc. Online directories are great for businesses which don’t have a web presence and/or are on a tight budget, as they offer a great way of getting leads due to their large online presence and marketing budget of the specialised directory site. Specialised directories will often come up higher on an organic web search due to this. Specialised directories are inexpensive and an easy way to set up paid online marketing compared to the above options if your business is in an industry which has a specialised directory available.
As you can see, there are a number of options for marketing your business online, however, each option has many advantages and will cost you time or money to set up. Whether you decide to outsource the work, employ someone with the skills to do it, or do the work yourself, consider this as an investment in your business and not an expense. Without effectively marketing your business to the right people at the right time, you will not be able to generate the revenue you need for your business to be successful.
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help youmarket your business online.
It is important that you know why your customers think your business is better than your competitors as this will help you to understand what is your competitive advantage, and this will improve your business’s chances of success.
You can determine your business’s competitive advantage by undertaking a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to determine what your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are so you can improve your business’s own competitive advantage based on these.
Researching your business’s competitive advantage
To undertake this competitive analysis, you can use both primary and secondary data sources, however, the most cost effective way is by accessing and analysing readily available online information.
While this means that you are only doing a surface level comparison, that some data may be dated, and that some online data sources are not as reliable or fit for purpose as undertaking primary research methods, such as focus groups and surveys, you can undertake the competitive analysis quickly and cheaply. It can also determine whether you need to do more targeted analysis.
In this post, a case study of TripAdvisor’s possible competitive advantage as an online travel accommodation booking site will be used to demonstrate the competitive analysis process.
Step 1: Determine who your competitors are
The first stage of the competitive analysis is to determine your direct and indirect competitors. A direct competitor is a business that provides a similar product in your region, while an indirect competitor is a business that provides a substitute product. For example: TripAdvisor’s direct and indirect competitors:
·Travel store or agent
Hotels.com and Wotif will be considered as TripAdvisor’s top two competitors to do the competitive analysis.
Step 2: Conduct the research
There are 7 key areas of competitive advantage which should be used to compare your business against your top competitors.
Here is how TripAdvisor compares to their competitors (together with the data source in italics and brackets):
Services they provide (Own websites)
Online travel accommodation booking
Online travel accommodation booking
Online booking site for flights, accommodation, car hire, package deals and holiday activities
Target market (Own websites)
Profitability (Various news reports)
Expanding or scaling down (Various news reports)
Length of time in business (Wikipedia)
Positive reputation (Own websites)
Find the lowest price
Whole travel experience booked on one site
Negative reputation (Various review websites)
Poor customer service,
Potential conflict of interest between reviewers and those hotels being promoted on the site,
Poor customer service,
False claims of ‘best rates’ or using reward points
Poor customer service,
Bookings not being correct when people arrive at their destination
Step 3: Compare features and benefits
You can either use what you know are the key criteria to evaluate the features and benefits of your products and services against those of your competitors, or you can use the key criteria used by ‘Review Sites’ for your industry to do this.
In the online accommodation booking industry, review sites such as TopTenReviews, use a number of key criteria when evaluating accommodation booking services eg pricing, sorting of information, the amount of detail about the accommodation sites, the reservation process and booking help.
TripAdvisor and Wotif did not make the 2017 Top 10 Hotel Booking Services, whereas Hotels.com was ranked no 8 in the world. This gives Hotels.com a huge competitive advantage, and provides information to TripAdvisor about what they could be doing to improve their services.
Step 4: Undertake an operational (internal) analysis
The effective operations of a business can provide competitive advantage.
This is how these 3 companies compared against one another (together with the data source in italics and brackets):
Financial resources (Wikipedia)
Owned by Expedia
Owned by Expedia
Operational effectiveness (McCarter, 2017)
Did not make the 2017 top 10 Hotel Booking Services
Website ranked no 8 in 2017 TopTenReview for Hotel Booking Services
Did not make the 2017 top 10 Hotel Booking Services
Product range (Own websites)
Hotel bookings, reviewing and ranking
Hotel bookings, reviewing
Offers widest range of online travel booking products
Strategic partnerships (Wikipedia)
Owned by Expedia
Owned by Expedia
Employees / Culture (Various review sites)
Many employee incentives eg paid PD, dogs allowed at work, extra time off in summer, travel discounts, gym, free food
Some employee incentives eg reimbursed/discounted travel, gym credits, health schemes
Innovative entrepreneurial culture but poor people culture eg gossiping, highly competitive
Step 5: Determine market share
Business statistics websites like IBIS World and business review websites offer easily accessible online market share information. These can be found (and sometimes purchased) by doing web searches such as:
Online travel accommodation website market share in Australia
Who leads the market in Australian online travel accommodation bookings?
According to IBIS World, in 2017 in Australia TripAdvisor was not even in the top four market share leaders in online travel accommodation websites, as these were: Bookings.com, Expedia, Luxury Escapes and Webjet. TripAdvisor needs to understand what these four businesses are doing to give them more market share in Australia.
Step 6: Determine competitive objectives and strategies
The competitive objectives and strategies of your business can provide a competitive advantage so comparing your competitive objective, and the strategies you will use to achieve this objective, against your competitors is very important.
This is how these 3 companies compared against one another (together with the data source in italics and brackets):
Competitive objective (Various media reports)
Grow market share in Australia
Grow market share in Australia
Protect/Maintain share in Australia
Strategy to achieve objective (Various media reports)
Advertising and price
Was bought out by Expedia
Step 7: Identify competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
By examining your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses you can put strategies in place to overcome or counteract their strengths as well as work out ways you can take advantage of their weaknesses.
Here are the strengths and weaknesses of Hotels.com and Wotif:
·Ranked in Top 10 online hotel accommodation booking sites
·Backed by Expedia, one of the largest online booking sites in the world
·False claims on offers
·Poor customer service
·Broad range of services which allows them to offer discounts
·Strong Australian brand
·Backed by Expedia, one of the largest online booking sites in the world
·Poor customer service
Step 8: Determine your business’s competitive position and strategies to exploit
After reviewing these your competitors’ competitive objectives and strategies, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, it is now time to determine where your business’s competitive position should be, and how you business will achieve this.
Here are some suggestions that TripAdvisor could focus on so they have a clear point of difference to their competitors:
Competitive position: TripAdvisor is an independent online travel accommodation website which has a reputation for independent reviewing and ranking of travel locations and services
Competitive strategies: TripAdvisor could improve their competitive position by improving their website functionality and their customer service.
While doing a competitive analysis using a ‘desktop’ analysis via secondary sources of data only provides a surface level understanding of your competitors, it can help you better understand not only your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, it can also help you discover possible competitive strengths and weaknesses for your own business. This insight will help you better plan and deliver your business’s competitive advantage.
It is also important to understand that undertaking a competitive analysis is not a one-off event, and it should be done regularly, either quarterly, half yearly or annually. This is because your competitors, the economy as well as political and social attitudes change frequently, thereby impacting your business’s competitive advantage. Regularly undertaking a competitive analysis will provide your business with strategies to counter any changes which may impact its competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Business growth is possible either through the acquisition of other businesses or through unique and innovative ideas which have a market which is willing to pay the price for the product or service to make it a profitable venture.
For most businesses, acquiring another business is either not high on their business objectives or it is not financially viable. This means they need to be looking for new business ideas to grow their business.
New business ideas are all around you
New business ideas are all around you, but developing innovative ideas requires a number of personal aspects, such as:
Having a ‘new’ mindset which is continuously seeking out new ways of doing things
Personal interests that present ideas which you are motivated to pursue
Skills and knowledge in an area, either through experience or training, which you can tap into for new ideas
Experience to draw upon to seek out opportunities
Resources, including physical, intellectual and personnel, which present new ideas or opportunities
Personal investment of time, perception, intuition, personal energy and drive which provide the headspace to be receptive to new ideas
Personal risk preference which determines the level of risk you are willing to take to follow through with an innovative idea
Drawing upon these personal aspects opens a whole new world of new business ideas.
PACE your business
One way to do this is by PACE-ing your business. That is, brainstorming potential ideas based on your area of expertise, experience or interest by considering the prompts undereach of the key starting words of problems, analysis, changes and extensions.
Break down processes into parts – what can be done better?
What trends can be exploited?
Internal – Skills? Talents? Resources? Networks?
Legislation / Regulation
Add something before or after an existing product or service
Area of expertise, experience or interest =
Helping businesses use technology
My clients understand the benefits of digital marketing and social media but don’t know how to get started
Opportunity – Offer one on one digital marketing/social media coaching and mentoring
Most businesses see an increase in their profit when they invest in their digital presence
Opportunity – Offer ‘digital first’ health check services which analyse where a business could profit more from their digital presence
More people are buying online or using the internet to research their purchases
Opportunity – Offer ‘how do your customers behave online’ consultancy services
My clients don’t know where to source a full range of the services they need to use digital marketing and social media
Opportunity – Partner with other businesses in my value chain and offer loyalty discounts to my clients, and cross promote our services on each other’s websites
You can do this yourself or with a group of people or get input from others. Also, allow yourself 1-3 attempts to do this activity eg start the brainstorm, and then leave it for a while, then go back and so if you can add more information and suggestions.
Evaluating these opportunities
In order to determine whether these opportunities can become a viable business idea, you then need to analyse the critical success factors:
How unique is the business opportunity? – what special characteristics does the business opportunity have that will draw customers to it, and away from competitors eg what is it the business opportunity’s unique value proposition?
What up-front capital will you need? – what capital will be required to get the business idea up and running eg what human and financial capital will be required? This will vary depending on the business opportunity.
What is the anticipated growth pattern for the business? – will the risk of investing time and money to launch the opportunity be financially rewarded through low or high profit gains? How quickly can you make it happen and the make a profit?
How readily available is the product or service now? – How long will it take you to get the product and service ready for sale / delivery?
Are there customers willing to pay for the product or service? – Is there a market which needs this product or service, and will these customers be willing to pay the price needed to make the opportunity a profitable idea?
Analysing the critical success factors will help you determine whether any or all of these opportunities have enough potential to be viable and profitable business ideas.
If you do identify a potential opportunity worth pursuing, then further investigation of this opportunity through a business ideas evaluation is the next step in determining whether this product would be worth investing in and pursuing.
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help youfind your next profitable business idea.
For more than a decade, people have been taking advantage of doing it in “the Cloud” by accessing computer programs and online services through the internet rather than solely from the device they are working on.
A number of these Cloud based services are also easily accessed through apps on your mobile phone or tablet, making it easy to do anything, anywhere.
Learn how you can do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely and cleverly:
Do it cheaply
A number of Cloud based services are either free or inexpensive, and easy to use. Often the business model for Cloud based services is to provide you with the service for free up to a certain limit (eg free for a limited number of users, days, storage space etc), however, once you discover what a great service it provides, you are willing to pay the often low-cost monthly subscription costs.
Services such as Gmail (Google) open a whole new world of freely available Cloud-based services such as Google Calendar and Google Hangouts (online meeting room). It also has Google Drive which not only allows you to store your files in the Cloud, but also to do online word processing and spreadsheets through GDocs/GSpreadsheets, and collect online information through GForms.
Other cheap or free Cloud based services or SAAS include:
Dropbox or iCloud – automatically sync and backup your files to the Cloud
Hootsuite – manage your social media posts and interactions
Endnote – make digital notes, and set actions and reminders
Do it safely
There has been a lot of media coverage lately about computer viruses hacking into the computer systems and making file and system access impossible. To avoid this ensure you:
Have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer
Ensure that you allow system and web browser updates to happen when prompted
Never open an attachment or click on a link in an email or in social media from someone you do not know or have not heard from in awhile (this means they may have been hacked, and the virus is sending out bogus but infected emails/posts)
Watch out for ‘fake’ emails where it looks like they are from your bank, credit card company or PayPal – none of these companies will ask you to open a document or click on a link in an email but rather ask you to log into their secure online site to communicate with them regarding your money
If you are not sure, check it on your mobile phone as there is a much lower chance that the virus will attach this device
Have strong passwords which have a minimum of 8 characters made up of letters, numbers and symbols
Do not use the same password across multiple Cloud-based services
Cloud based services will continue to grow as their ease of use offer many benefits so make sure you are making the most of these services to manage your life and your business – cheaply, safely, cleverly.
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help youdo it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely, cleverly.
Knowledge is key to the on-going success of your business because knowledge is embedded in everything that you do, and how you use that knowledge can clearly differentiate you from your competitors.
Knowledge was once considered ‘power’ because it was scarce and expensive to obtain. However, the internet, globalisation and mass migration is seeing knowledge becoming more and more dispersed, and easier to access. This means that you can quickly and easily access new knowledge which can lead to new ideas which gives you an advantage in your industry to grow your business.
In order to remain competitive, your organisation must be able to continually seek out and absorb three types of organisational knowledge in new and innovative ways to improve your products/services and processes (Wilson & Doz, 2011).
Explicit knowledge – this is knowledge which is easily transferred from one person to another, eg procedures on how to effectively service customers
Embedded knowledge – this is knowledge learned by observing how other people apply their knowledge in a given context, eg the explicit body language used when servicing customers
Existential knowledge – this is knowledge which exists in the behaviour and norms of people, and is only learned by doing eg the culture of an organisation which dictates how customers are attracted, serviced and looked after
In order to be proactive about accessing new knowledge, it is important to have processes in place which allow you to cost-effectively stay informed about how your sector, and the economy in general, is functioning and changing. Accessing knowledge from a variety of locations then needs to be filtered and absorbed into your existing systems and processes of your organisation.
Three ways to do this are:
Attracting: being a knowledge magnet
The most cost effective way to access new knowledge is to encourage people to actively seek you out and share it with you. This requires that you let people know that you are interested in new ways of doing things.
Some of the ways to do this is:
Provide ways for customers to easily provide you feedback eg customer surveys or through having a ‘feedback’ or Q&A page on your website,
Be open and transparent and let your customers know what you don’t know yet but you would like to improve on to give them a better customer experience eg write a blog/social media post or a white paper which highlights where there are gaps in your marketplace which you are looking for help to solve
Knowledge holders will only be attracted to provide your organisation with their knowledge if they respect and trust your brand, so being professional in everything you do is very important. Being a knowledge magnet often attracts explicit knowledge, so it is easy to filter useful knowledge and then absorb it by building an ongoing relationship with the knowledge holder. However, this relationship may involve licensing or contracting the knowledge, and it may receive some resistance from your existing staff in using it as they feel that they have little ownership over this new knowledge.
Foraging: going on field trips
Some knowledge can only be obtained by just being there to see how the knowledge is used in its original setting, and to then having the time to consider how it can then be reused in a different situation or location.
Some of the ways to do this is:
Plan holidays and conferences which allow you to observe and interact with others in different locations to discover new business models
Join a business mission to an overseas country – these are usually organised by a government department looking to grow exports
This methods helps to uncover embedded knowledge through explicit observation and questioning, so interacting with local knowledge holders is needed help determine the factors which enable the innovative activity to take place in the first place. Strategies to enable ongoing contact with local knowledge holders and your team will be needed so to enable them to appreciate the context of the original setting when applying the new knowledge.
Experiencing: living like a local
Some new knowledge can only be discovered by actually being immersed over a longer period of time in the daily activity of an environment to see the norms, social networks and culture which only exists through longer term relationship building. This type of knowledge gathering also allows you to discover the legal and ethical aspects of how things are done.
Some of the ways to do this is:
Strategically partnering with another organisation in a different location which you can visit for extended periods of time
Working in another location for an extended period of time
This method of knowledge gathering helps to discover existential knowledge which is harder to replicate by your competitors, however, it is the most expensive method to obtain so it requires a clear strategic direction, possibly discovered through the attracting and foraging knowledge gathering methods mentioned above. Integrating this type of knowledge will require an appreciation of cultural differences by those staff still located in home base who are trying to apply this new knowledge.
Note, that these methods are not mutually exclusive and do require carefully thought out goals and reasons for doing any or all of them, however, in a fast paced and changing world, the need to implement new knowledge gathering strategies cannot be overlooked to remain competitive and attract new business.
Entrepreneurs are driven by the possibility of starting a new venture or business to create something new or novel from an innovative idea with the likelihood of making a lot of money or helping others.
There are many examples of entrepreneurs, from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey, who have recognised when an opportunity existed which allowed them to harvest substantial financial or personal rewards. However, the harvesting only comes through having the right attitude, attributes, research and resources.
Here are 5 ways you can think and work like an entrepreneur:
Think “outside the square” and have a “can do” attitude
Entrepreneur are opportunity obsessed. This means that they have an “always on” radar for good opportunities to enter into new markets or industries. Their “can do” attitude provides them with the will power to build something from nothing. This attitude also enables them to think “outside the square” when steering their new venture through ever present threats by planning, be prepared and being able to mitigate risk in unpredictable circumstances.
Work hard and watch the pennies
Entrepreneurs are renowned for being passionate, hard-working individuals. These traits ensure that their new venture gets off the ground, often with limited resources. This means that entrepreneurs are very resourceful by doing more with less, usually by using other people’s resources, and with little external financial support. This means being frugal with cash and other resources even when they get early wins, as they need to remain self-disciplined by remaining focussed on the long term value of their venture.
Think quick but think smart
At the start of the opportunity, the entrepreneur needs to make a quick assessment to determine whether the potential opportunity is worth investing their time and money. The characteristics of a good opportunity include determining whether the opportunity has a high return with good cash flow, and that it can be established with limited resources. The assessment also needs to also take into account whether the opportunity is happening at a window of time where change or discontinuity is ripe or chaos is happening, or where there are inconsistencies or gaps in the existing level of service or quality of the product which can be capitalised.
Work with others and share the success
Entrepreneurs knows they cannot realise an opportunity of their own. They need to form and lead a team which is results focussed. Entrepreneurs are also willing to reward success by sharing the wealth that the venture brings and promises with the team who has helped them to create this success, usually through share allocation or recognition. They also need to support honest failure and help their team learn quickly from that failure. This process comes through effective leadership skills and new business concepts such as creating a flat organisation built on a culture of change and chaos, and which is managed by semi-autonomous teams. The entrepreneur also builds heroes within their team to help them realise their vision.
Think organised, sustainably and be iterative
Entrepreneurs mitigates risk and communicate their mission or opportunity through a well researched business plan which explains the fits and gaps of the opportunity. The entrepreneur always ensures that their new venture is sustainable in terms of the environment, their community and societal impacts to ensure the long term sustainability of their venture. While described in a linear way, an entrepreneur’s actions are actually iterative in nature, where they are constantly and quickly learning and improving from mistakes and failures to ensure not too many resources are used if the opportunity does not work out.
Work and think like entrepreneur, Elon Musk of Space X, Tesla, SolarCity and OpenAI:
Elon Musk is a well-known entrepreneur who has accumulated US$14 Billion as a business magnate, investor, engineer and inventor. Elon is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc, Chairman of SolarCity and Co-chairman of OpenAI.
Towards the start of the accumulation of Elon’s wealth, Elon co-founded X.com in 1999, an online financial services and e-mail payment company. In partnership with his brother, Elon recognised that there was a window of opportunity to provide these types of services as the internet has growing exponentially.
X.com then merged with Confinity which had the money transfer service, Paypal. Elon and his brother then spent their time and resources building a team to grow the PayPal service using viral marketing. To ensure they used limited resources, Elon rewarded his team through PayPal shares. Elon and his brother were able to communicate their vision for PayPal to their team and shareholders through their business plan. Elon and his brother also took into account PayPal’s impact on the environment, their community and society in general.
When eBay acquired PayPal in 2002 for US$1.5 billion in stock. Elon’s 10% share in PayPal netted him US$165 million. Throughout this entrepreneurial process, Elon was faced with many risks, including being ousted of his CEO role (but remained on the Board) when the PayPal Board did not want Elon to take the risk of moving PayPal’s Unix-based infrastructure to Microsoft Windows (Wikipedia, 2017).
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help youthink and work more like an entrepreneur.
Social media marketing is by far the most cost effective way that any business can promote their products/services. Social media numbers continue to grow steadily each year, with Facebook still being the most popular site in Australia, and newer social media sites like Snapchat growing exponentially (Australian Social Media Stats – February 2017).
Here’s how you can make your social media marketing a screaming success:
The first step to successfully using social media to promote your products/services is to:
Own that point of difference, and make it your business’s mission for success
Communicate this point of difference effectively via social media
Ensure you have a ‘call to action’ on your social media profile eg buy now, call now, click now
The next step is to determine why you will be using social media to market your business, such as:
To be front of mind when people need the type of product/service you offer
To build a loyal fan base who love what you do and become your brand advocates
To educate your marketplace to improve their lives or businesses
To be known as an industry expert who people flock to
There are a number of Australian businesses who are very successfully making their social media marketing a screaming success with millions of followers and improved revenue generation. They do this by using one or more of the following four ways to use social media effectively:
1. Share your own original content
There was a time before the internet when information was scarce and only large organisations were able to effectively distribute this information. Nowadays, information is everywhere and available anytime, so holding onto what you know doesn’t make sense anymore as it has little value on its own.
By sharing what you know via your social media profiles, however, helps to attract people’s attention. It also helps them understand what you can do and how effectively you can do it. These perceptions are important when people are in the research and decision making stages of their buying journey.
When you understand what your business’s point of difference is, you will then realise that you have lots of content that others will find useful. You can then share this information through:
blog, video or audio posts
photo and infographics
reports and research papers
checklist and how tos etc
Case study 1:
Consider Australian fitness instructor Emily Skye. She regularly educates her market and creates loyal fans via social media by freely sharing her fitness videos which people love. Emily’s loyal fans then share these videos via their own networks. This activity has attracted her:
As mentioned above, the internet is chock full of content. While this can create a lot of white noise, it also presents a fantastic opportunity for you to curate and share content related to your point of difference via your social media profiles.
Doing this allows busy people to access useful information or readily have content to share on their own social media profiles. The curation of this content is also very simple to do by gathering information from Google Alerts and by subscribing to email updates related to your point of difference.
Use your business’s point of difference to determine the type of information you should be sourcing and curating, for example:
Being front of mind – heart warming or thought provoking stories similar to your business
Creating loyal fans – fun or sophisticated information which links to your business
Educating your market – how tos or research related to your industry
Being an industry expert – cutting edge information from your industry which is hard to find elsewhere
Case study 2:
Consider Australian business, Street FX Motorsports & Graphics, who share other people’s motor sport videos which are either funny or dare-devilish. This activity has attracted them:
9.9 million likes on their Facebook page
400,000 Instagram followers
Street FX’s call is action is for these followers to “Shop now” – ie encouraging people to either buy their racing graphics, parts and accessories or a combination of all three. These loyal fans are not just Australians, as Street FX’s has USA customers and beyond.
3. Interact with others in social media
People use social media more for the social than the media so it is important that you interact with others using your business social media profile. This includes:
Liking or reacting (smile, shock, anger etc) to other people’s posts and comments
Tagging or @people in posts so your posts come up in their stream, and/or they are alerted to the interactivity and interact back with you
Replying to, sharing and retweeting other people’s posts and comments
Using #hashtagsrelated to trending terms which link you to others in your field
This activity demonstrates that you are not just in social media to ‘push’ your business and its products/services but that you are interested in what others are doing. This activity is particularly important if you are using social media to build a loyal fan base. Powerful collaborative partnerships can also be formed by interacting with others in social media.
Case study 3:
Consider Australian strategic advisor and mentor of other leaders, Holly Ransome, from Emergent Solutions. Holly interacts with others around things she is passionate about such as being on the Board of the Port Adelaide Football Club, meeting other inspiring leaders and sharing her political views. This activity has seen her attract:
92,000 Twitter followers
7,700 Instagram followers
3,800 Likes on her Facebook page
Holly’s call to action is to visit her website which showcases her services and the blue chip clients who utilise them. Holly’s activity also helps to educate her marketplace while being seen as an expert in her industry.
4. Show you care about your customers
The best way to improve your business and its products/services or to determine whether a new idea is viable is to ask other people for their opinion about this. Social media is the perfect platform to do this, and this activity makes customers feel like you care about what they have to say.
Others ways of showing you care about your customers is by asking them to share their content with you or creating / being involved in memes or trending themes which people find funny or entertaining. Encouraging people to tag others into their comments to win a prize or get a discount also helps to builds excitement among your customers.
Responding to your customers’ social media comments about your business, whether they are positive or constructive, also shows your transparent customer-focussed approach to your business. However, do not get into a rant with a customer online. If you need to reply more than once to a comment, then take the conversation offline and communicate with the person via direct messaging, or acknowledge that the person is right.
All of these activities show the ‘human side’ of your business which helps your customers feel they know you and can trust you.
Case study 4:
Consider Australian family-run business, Appliances Online, who sell top-brand appliances. Appliances Online post great ‘win’ offers by asking customers to interact with these posts. They also have their loyal fans who share their personal experiences and reasons why they buy certain products that Appliances Online sell as comments on Appliance Online’s posts. This activity has attracted them:
385,000 likes on their Facebook page
24,600 Twitter followers
9,600 YouTube Subscribers
1,600 Instagram followers
Appliances Online’s call to action is to ‘buy now’ by directing people to their online website. They also use social media to be front of mind when people need appliances, as well as, to build loyal brand advocates. This interactivity with brand advocates then pushes Appliance Online’s posts into the social media streams of these fans so all of their network sees them. This earned marketing is very powerful and cannot be bought.
Making your social media marketing a screaming success
Remember, social media marketing is not the “silver bullet” to your business’s success. This come with:
Having a killer product/service which is in demand
Being customer focussed and providing a great customer experience, then
Effectively communicating the first two points with a strong call to action
Consistency in your approach to social media marketing is also very important as this creates the impression in people’s minds that your business is reliable. Reliability instills trust.
To ensure you are not spending all of your time in social media, use a tool like Hootsuite to regularly schedule posts which are then released over a period of time.
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help yousucceed online by making your social media marketing a screaming success.