by Dr Greg Chapman
In business you can never rest on your laurels. What was great yesterday, will just be ok today and not good enough tomorrow. The goal posts are continually moving, but if you are watching the posts, you can adjust to make sure your kick goes through the centre rather than ricochet from a pole. There are three key trends that will move the position of the goals posts for all small businesses next year.
The first trend is the hyper-competitive environment that we will all face next year. While this has been increasing for some time, it is never been so easy to compare businesses. Pretty much everyone has a website now since many providers are giving away them away free, and barriers to entry for most businesses have never been lower due to technology.
Which brings us to the next trend, mobility. People don’t want to visit you to receive their products or services, they expect you to come to them. So it really doesn’t matter where they are based. They could be operating from their back bedroom instead of an expensive city office, or based in India. In both cases, overheads have been slashed and thanks again to technology, you can still get what you want wherever the service is performed or the goods are sourced. This is not only a real challenge for retail, but also for many services as well. I am aware of an accountancy practice that has all the returns of its Australian clients prepared in India, with their local office being little more than for marketing and customer relationships.
A third trend is the rise of social media. On the plus side when people like what you do, the word-of-mouth becomes hugely beneficial. On the flip side however, negative reports can severely damage your reputation, and bad news travels fast, even if the story is wrong. An example of this was a men-with-a-van type service, fully branded and uniformed, who were stopped by police and arrested because they erroneously believed that they were stealing furniture from a flat. Pictures of the men on the ground in handcuffs with their branded van behind them soon ended up on the internet, with great potential damage to their reputation. (I heard about it on the radio, with the upset owner explaining what had happened, but the horse had already bolted.)
All these trends mean comparison shopping has become very easy with customers becoming ever more focused on price and quality. To avoid becoming just another commodity supplier of a product or service, a business must be outstanding in some way. It could be the level of service, their reputation, or an offer that is difficult to replicate.
Being outstanding as a strategy, and giving people what they want, where and when they want it, means you will be head and shoulders above the competition even if your prices are higher. The world will find out about you through the community of your customers and their networks which together will maintain your position in the marketplace. What will you be doing in 2013 to make your business outstanding?
May Your Business this Year be - As You Plan It.
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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