Tag: business relationships
Landing a big client is both exciting and daunting, especially for a young company. It can be a defining moment, pushing the company into the credibility zone, where other clients will follow because of that first big one. It can also be a point where all of the organization’s resources are sucked into the servicing of that big client’s needs and nothing else can get done. There is both high reward and high risk here.
Every business needs to perform certain functions on an ongoing basis. Structure needs to be created and operationalized. Reporting and accountability need to be standardized. Marketing, business development and sales need to be ongoing. If everyone is spending all of their time on the big fish, then what?
And in a worst case scenario, what if the big fish walks? The company is in a deep hole. It’s a terrible time to have to focus on non-income producing activities that have been pushed into the background for a while.
If you land a big one, don’t stop- keep fishing. Then if the big fish gets away you can still survive. Somebody on the team should always be asking the question, “What if we lose Mr Big?” And everyone should be responding by focusing part of the time on keeping that loss from being fatal. Can you survive the loss of your big client?
Business and life would be so simple if one and one always added up to two. At least, that is what our logical brain seems to tell us. But what can happen when one and one don’t add up to two?
First, One and One Always Adds Up to Two. Really?
On the surface, there seems to be a great deal of evidence which would lead us to come up with one right answer. Customers can consistently expect a quality product or service, after all the product is always made the same way and the service is always delivered in the same manner. A leader can expect that employees fully understand their roles and expectations and deliver top performance. Employees consistently receive the same information, directives and are held accountable in the same manner.
After all, the following is generally true:
By now, I pretty sure readers are getting the idea that I might have lost my mind or am really out of touch with reality. However, just consider how the previous statements when laid out in front of us, may lead us to make unconscious assumptions which ultimately affect our relationships and results. If that’s the case, which unfortunately it often is, we need to rethink what we might need to consider how we have been conducting business.
Initially, when one and one don’t add up to two, the automatic conclusion is that someone or something is wrong.
The customer may have purchased the product or service for a very specific reason. For example, a customer may purchase hammer to drive nails. Later, having left it in a car used it to smash a window to escape if involved in an accident.
The leader has had solid, steady growth in one market. A new trend pops up and now there is an opportunity to expand into a new market, totally unrelated. Over night the business explodes or the opportunity passes and the competition takes over.
Employees are given the business objectives. The average employee doing day-to-day activities, not really making the connection with their roles and the success of the business. As a result business continues to limp along. Or, they can see that their current goals and roles need to be modified and they need to step out of the status quo to help achieve those objectives and push the business to new levels of success.
Finally, It’s Not Right or Wrong
Since life is not as simple as basic math. Often times, there are great rewards when one and one adds up to two. However, a lot of great things have happened when one and one don’t equal two and as a 720thinker, I would like you to consider the following questions:
What might happen with your customers if they believed that you offered more than just the basic service?
What might happen if your leadership found different applications or opportunities for a product or service?
What might happen with employees if they stepped out of their box and added some innovative ideas and actions to production or service?
“A brand is built action by action, just as a house is built brick by brick.” ~Jarod Kintz~
A brand in it’s simplest definition is a promise to it’s customers. Today, an estimated five to ten percent of a larger company’s budget is spent on developing a powerful and positive brand. For smaller companies that percentage may be different. Regardless of how little or how many actual allocated or resources or how much one is committed to evaluating and refining their customer promise decides whether the dollars, time and energy are actually invested or wasted.
Consider these industries:
In these scenarios, note where the industry or company focused.
In the late 1800’s, railroad was king spanning a nation and connecting the East and West. Whether it was hubris, shortsightedness, or just plain stupidity, the railroad barons’ brand was build more trains and lay more track. When in reality, their business was transportation. All the railroads suffered and have never really recovered. Wasting marketing and brand resources left with a broken brand.
As king of the photo and film industry and at it’s peak, Kodak held 90% of the market. As an actual leader in the digital age, Kodak made a decision to hold back on this revolutionary technology and hold to it’s exiting brand, believing the “product” was what people were interested in purchasing. In reality, and to quote Dan Avi, author of the article, Kodak Failed by Asking the Wrong Marketing Question published in Forbes, 2012. Kodak “focused on selling more product, instead of the business that it was in, story telling.” In 2013, the headline in USA Today read, “Can Kodak Reinvent Itself After Bankruptcy? Only time will tell if they can re-build their brand.
Disney remains one of the greatest leaders in the entertainment industry. Continually striving to stay true to Walt Disney promise to “speak not to children, but to the child within each of us“ has proven to be a powerful strategy. The focus and promise remains solidly on”storytelling, magic, and experience.” Today, even though Disney remains number one in price, they are still considered number one in value. They continually work on building their brand.
An Opportunity for 720thinking:
Most of the marketing resources are wasted on selling and telling people about what the products or services are and how they can be used. A powerful brand builds a strong emotional connection, and at the same time entices the consumer to want, almost need to experience. There is not a sale. Instead, customers are lined up willing to spend top dollar because the value is not to fill the customer’s wants and needs, but to delight the them.
As 720thinkers, we would like to offer the following questions that can help you evaluate whether you are making or breaking your brand:
If an individual or business in this twenty first century is not positioned to get out in front, they may not be positioning themselves at all. As 720thinkers, we have come to know that the individual or the company that stands out in front of the pack is the one that is proactive, daring and adventurous. They take active roles in seeking new opportunities and new projects, challenge the status quo, offer solutions and suggestions, volunteer for the difficult or even seemingly mundane tasks or projects that can change the course of a business, career, community or industry.
A junior associate had this practice. She allowed months of to go by as she waited for responses from her boss to unanswered emails.
Her pattern was as follows:
Her boss was senior executive. Believe it or not, both associate and exec were in the same building, not different states, countries or time zones. When she finally picked up the phone and called her boss, a face-to-face meeting was set.
Unfortunately, the senior level had been waiting for the young employee to ask for face-to-face meetings whenever she needed help, was offering solutions to problems, or taking advantage of the opportunities for change that abounded in the organization. After all, she had been hired as one of the brightest and the best. Over the course of those months, the boss started reassigning her duties and responsibilities to other employees.
I’ll bet you guessed this outcome of that meeting. The junior associate was not just of good graces with her boss because she didn’t get in front of the situation, she was out of a job.
The lesson can apply to any individual or business.
If you want to be noticed by organizations, communities, or industries, stop waiting to get noticed and get out in front. If not, you just might be out of a job, a client, a big contract. Need we say more.
As 720thinkers, we have a question for you. What can you do that will help you or your business stop waiting and get out in front?
The weather is finally beginning to cooperate. It is actually looking a lot like summer. That means golf, tennis, or escape to the shore or the mountains for long weekends. It may even mean taking an extended two or three week vacation. Sounds like great fun. The willingness to take time from work to avail oneself of the great weather varies from leader to leader, owner to owner. The two biggest factors are the mindset of the leader and the perceived mindset of those reporting to the leader.
Some leaders take full advantage of their time off, without giving a thought to how others may perceive it. They are confident in their power and authority and do not care how others react. They have achieved a certain level in their career, and with that achievement comes the “right” to take time when they want it. They expect others to carry on in their absence
Others feel the same way about having the right and freedom to take time, but still give thought to the impact on others. They have a higher degree of emotional intelligence and understand what others may be feeling. They understand that it is natural for workers to be jealous of the greater freedom that leaders have, and to perhaps let down in their efforts when the leader is not around. They understand that this does not make the workers bad people or bad employees- it makes them normal. So preparations must be made. People must be given notice so they can plan accordingly. A boss going away should not spring it on the troops the day before he goes. There should be planning, meetings, accountabilities should be set, and the desired level of communication should be created. The leaders who prepare the troops, look at situations through multiple lenses, not just their own and are much more 720thinkers.
If a leader is planning on playing golf every Thursday during the summer, rather than hiding it from his team, he should make it clear that this is his plan. That way the team can plan around that schedule. And the boss can avoid multiple cell phone calls on Thursdays. And of course, the boss must be “present” when he is present. He needs to be engaged. He needs to perform. He needs to hold folks accountable. If he is perceived as being a good boss doing a good job, the workers will not resent his absence when he plays golf. The more he shirks his responsibilities, the more Thursday golf is just part of a feeling of negativity workers may develop.
It comes down to the psyche of the leader vs. the psyche of those being led. If there is mutual trust, there should be no problem with the leader taking time away from the business to enjoy herself. Unfortunately, mutual trust is only one of four possible scenarios.
Take a simple cube divided into four boxes. The vertical side is “Reason to worry” (another way of talking about the employee attitude), with the top boxes being “high” and the bottom boxes being “low.” The more the employees resent the boss taking time, the higher the reason to worry. The horizontal side is “Amount of worry” (the leader’s attitude), with the left side being “low” and the right side being “high.” Obviously, the higher the “reason to worry”, the more work the boss needs to do on the company culture and the employee engagement. Also, the boss may need to increase his “amount of worry” to gain an understanding of why employees feel the way they do.
If a boss or leader wants to enjoy a guilt free summer knowing work will be done and done well in her absence, she needs to develop a high level of mutual trust in the organization. This can be hard work that takes place year round, not just before golf season. Company culture is key to success and trust is key to culture. If workers know a leader is holding up her end and being accountable to them, they should have no problem with her taking time off. If workers feel a leader is bailing on them without regard to their needs or the needs of the company, there will be no trust, no engagement and no longevity. Enjoy the summer after building up to it in a successful manner.