A lot has changed in the last 20 years for business leaders and owners. And the challenges keep on coming. Here are specific challenges you will face if you aren’t already as we head into the back half of 2017.
Expectation of Easy
It’s 2017. It’s the age of free two-day delivery, instant information at your fingertips and if you want it, you can get it right now. That’s all well and good if you are in a technology business and the trends are going for you. But, what if you are in a more traditional service business or you deal in complex or customized products that require lead time?
Invest the time to design experiences that are seamless and simple. Rather than fighting the trend, integrate it into your product and service design. This may mean re-engineering your processes. It may mean additional product design. It may mean simplifying your pricing schemes.
Rising expectation of value for a dollar
The dollar menu, free tutorials on YouTube, and massive scale driven businesses like Amazon/Wal-mart are setting the stage for customer expectations. And they don’t just want it now, they expect to get it cheaply as well. But, what if you don’t have the immense scale of an Amazon that will allow you to lower costs?
The value equation should be so obvious that price is a non-issue. Note, I did not say you should offer a low price. You don’t have to be the cheapest but, you do need to be the best value for the dollar spent. While obvious, it will keep customers coming back again and again. Offering “free” content and information in addition to your core product or service is a short path to building up this goodwill.
Social Media is the Media
How many people do you think see and are in a position to act on the flyer you stuffed in their mailbox or the ad you put in a local magazine or newspaper? The answer is, not many. Most people these days are too busy staring at their phones to notice other media.
Aside from the insanely low cost it takes to get into things like Facebook ads (, the ability to target your customers in social media settings far exceeds the capability of print media. So, embrace mobile digital. Embrace social media and think of it as a way to build one to one relationships with your customers rather than a one size fits all solution.
Lack of skilled labor
Forbes recently published an article highlighting that “The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte concluded about a year ago that some 22% of skilled manufacturing workers, or 2.7 million valued employees, are retiring over the next decade.” That means new workers will need to be hired. Where will they come from? Enrollment in apprenticeship programs certainly hasn’t risen enough to cover the gap.
Instead of competing for the little talent left, hire for attitude and aptitude and train the skills needed to differentiate our business.
Customer Confusion and Distraction
A recent study found that, on average, we touch our phone 2,617 times daily. Around 100 of those times, we are checking something; Facebook, email, a text, etc. We carry with us the most useful and most distracting piece of technology ever made. People are tethered to their phones. It is the primary object of our attention for media and communication. It’s amazing we can get anything else done.
To win in this environment means doing one of two things. One, fit your service into the chaos of their day. For example, merge your advertising into their already existing social media habits or design your services as a hands-off solution for your customers. Two, wow them with over the top experiences, design or quality. Be so good they can’t ignore you.
I am no healthcare expert but, it doesn’t take one to see the high rate at which costs of proving healthcare rising. Legislation over the past few years has increased the burden on small businesses to provide healthcare for employees and no matter which administration is in office, I don’t see a reprieve coming anytime soon.
Waiting for a solution from government is a futile effort. Yes, you can work to find the most optimal healthcare plans. I am not the expert in this area but it appears there’s no alternative to recognizing the current situation, understanding the impact on your bottom line and going out and making more money to cover the rising cost.
Retaining top talent
It used to be that folks got out of school, got a good job and they stayed, hard at work, for as long as the company would have them. With attention spans shortening over the years and the rapid expansion and contraction of different industries, employees are now expecting that they will work for several companies throughout their career. Thus, it should be no surprise that we see people jumping ship when they get a newer, better opportunity.
So, how do you keep top talent. Even with millennials, it boils down to the basics. Involve your employees in setting strategy, let them have ownership over success, recognize/reward them for that success, provide opportunities for development and foster strong relationships between managers and employees.
If you or your organization would like assistance in building your strategic plan, facilitating the leadership planning discussion, mining the metrics for the business or just want to see if you are on the right track, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.