A Blog For
For Small Business Owners and Leaders
Recently I was talking with some nonprofit executives about developing and launching some new programming. The more we talked the more I became convinced that their brainstorming and planning for these new services lacked one important thing. True customer input. It got me to thinking how much more on-point products and services could be if we simply got customers involved early – and had their involvement throughout the process. This post includes some ideas about how to make it happen.
It’s like a writer facing writer’s block. One of the most difficult parts of developing a strategic plan can simply be getting started. You are staring at a blank page, an empty whiteboard, a clean flipchart, a team meeting with a bunch of staring faces. OK, where do we start? You may not know how to take that first step. It’s not an unusual problem to have. Here are a few ideas for getting the ball rolling.
I come across it all the time. A business wants (needs!) to outline their strategic direction. They have every intention of doing it. They know that recommitting themselves to their fundamental mission and defining a long-term vision will be impactful to the success of their business. They recognize how beneficial thinking through their long-term goals and objectives are. They want the confidence and clarity that a strategic plan can provide. There’s only one problem, though. Where do they find the time when they have a business to run? How do you keep strategic plan development moving along? Well, I have a few ideas to share.
As I observed this guy following the painted walkway lines during a very early-morning walk through an empty parking garage it got me to thinking about how often we as business owners may be blindly following rules that may be limiting us and which really have no positive impact on us. We need to know which rules make sense and when we should live “outside the lines”.
Most of us business leaders want our businesses to grow. And so many of us are just not sure where that great idea will come from? Will it drop from the sky or from the steam in our shower? More often than not, great ideas are right there in front of us…if we just take the time to see them and act on them.
I am a believer that small things are often indicative of larger ones. And that leaders must be on the lookout for behaviors that can be detrimental to the growth of their businesses. Often it’s the small things that make that critical difference. Especially as a small business. In this post, I suggest that you take a few simple actions that can help you win in the marketplace.
We all know that asking our customers (and others in our target market) for input is important. Still for too many it still seems like a “have to do” as opposed to a “get to do”. The result? Not only will you not get the most useful information you can, but you are also missing a great opportunity to engage with those you most want to engage with. An opportunity to get great info AND build your brand…lost!Here are a few tips for getting the most from your market feedback efforts.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues we shy away from in our businesses (and in our personal lives too). On so many issues we fear to ask details because we may not be comfortable asking or we may not be prepared to hear the answer. Don’t be that way. Let’s develop a culture that embraces and acts on feedback to improver customer experiences and thereby improves our bottom line.
I have to admit some guilt here. Several times over the years I’ve had people (sometimes even people I’ve known for years!) admit that they had difficulty referring work to my company because they weren’t actually sure what or who to refer over to me. My immediate reaction was “Really?!?!?”. And once I got over that I realized how valuable that feedback truly was. When I allowed myself to step back and objectively look at the work I was doing I could see what they meant. I was all over the place. It was unclear what types of clients I wanted and what value I felt I could deliver to them. A true awakening.