I wanted to start the year by resurrecting a post from December last year – which seems very appropriate for the start of the working year for most people…
At a recent conference, a now colleague of mine, Ed Dale did four separate sessions on a topic which I am calling “How to do business in 2010“… he had a different title, but my take on it was simple – it was a message to all corporate management… to all the folks who’ve sadly been made redundant recently from that world… and to all smaller businesses who are paralysed by indecision. The message was something along the lines of
“Wake up and smell the coffee… the world has totally changed (not just by the Internet.) If you carry on doing business as it was done ten years ago, or do you know what, perhaps even a year ago… then you are dead in the water.”
There were 86 separate provacative statements, here’s my top 10:
1.) Whatever you do, make sure you’re in a business or market place that you are completely unpassionate about. Make sure that it leaves you feeling cold, empty and completely drained at the end of the day. The great news is that if you’ve found a marketplace you particularly have no interest in, it will help you to be average at best when it comes to selling to and supporting your customers – and they will love you for it.
2.)If you are in a small business, ensure you try to run it like a corporate entitiy. Make sure you absolutely do not in any way try to differentiate yourself from these bigger companies. Treat your customers like numbers and be completely devoid of any business personality.
3.) When developing products or services, it’s imperative that you don’t start to build anything without examining every ounce of detail at the early stage. Take as long as you like to write specs and make sure you start with the small picture and buld it up. You’ll never get anything launched if you don’t spend many weeks and months getting the finer detail argued about, before talking to customers about the concept – they won’t thank you.
4.) When your service is launched – for goodness sake try to sell it to everyone that moves… ignore segmentation and playing in niche markets – it’s a complete waste of time. If the product is good enough, everyone will want it.
5.) If you’re in the online game, think very carefully about building giant server or data centre infrastructures the minute your product is out the door. There’s literally no one else out there that does this kind of thing… and they certainly wouldn’t be able to scale it up to your demands.Your data is important to you, and so you should keep it under your control at all times.
6.) When designing your next product, ensure you get every feature that your customers will need into the very first release. Don’t design it so that it could be released in stages, or people just won’t buy it. They need everything on day one.
7.) Decision making – this is key. Involve everyone at all times. Ensure you plan as many meetings as possible – all day ones if necessary to reach a consensus. If you aren’t able to make a decision with the whole team after a huge amount of analysis and delay, then play safe and don’t make one.
8.) When it comes to recruitment, make sure you hire experts in their field, irrespective of whether they are difficult to work with. It’s much better to have a team of experts who don’t communicate than a team of generalists who gel as a team and work for the common good. Oh – and don’t work with them as affiliates or freelancers first to test them out – that just isn’t the done thing.
9.) Customers don’t mind being slightly misled about what they are about to receive as a service… as long as you hook them in, they’ll generally soon get over it. It also helps to provide a very detailed contract, which is difficult to break out of, for your protection.
10.) And finally, the Internet is just a fad. Stick with the old rules of marketing – direct mail and cold calling has worked for years. Your customer base has no idea what a twoot or a blag is, and they’re still on 56k modems, so video will never work on their pcs – you will just need to invest in a support department.
If you like my take on Ed’s wisdom, check out this post 5 Days with Ed Dale.