Tag: money

Let me start by saying that anyone claiming your business can be more profitable simply by being on Facebook is a charlatan. Or an idiot. And I’m not sure which is worse.

For me, a Social Business is one that is outward looking. It genuinely cares about satisfying its customers. It not only acts on their feedback, it encourages feedback. A Social Business is innovative and responsive. And it isn’t necessarily on Facebook or Twitter.

Nice guys don’t get rich

Unfortunately, running a business in this way takes a lot of time. You must constantly analyse what is working and what is not. You must solicit, collate and build a plan around customer feedback. You have to stop running the kind of business that your bank manager wants to see in order to make it more social. All in all, it’s far easier to run an unsocial business. In fact, in terms of profitability and gross revenues, it seems make more sense to run an actively anti-social business. There are countless examples to back this up; in the banking sector; in flagrant multi-national tax avoidance; in tech companies’ increasingly closed, proprietary systems. The list goes on and on and gets longer each day.

If you’re here, there’s a good chance that you’re a nice person. And if you’re running your own business, large or small, you still need to sleep at night. We firmly believe that being nice and being in business need not be mutually exclusive positions.

A key characteristics of nice people is that they are open and welcoming to new people and ideas. They are willing to listen act on what they hear. It’s called empathy. The same is true for businesses.

Consider Twitter

In the early days, Twitter was held up as an example of openness. They had a simple but effective platform, but they were willing to let others develop on top of it, building their own ideas and ultimately growing the userbase for Twitter through their own efforts. Now think about the reception they get when they announce increasingly restrictive terms of use and effectively stamp out many fledgling businesses. I’m not judging Twitter one way or another. They’re clearly doing what they believe to be right, but I would argue they are losing their empathy. Whether this will be detrimental to their long-term goals is still up for grabs.

Time is money

According to Steven Covey, one of the habits of highly effective people is taking time for yourself; going to the gym, walking the dog, sitting and thinking. He calls it Sharpening the Saw and uses a story to illustrate the point.

“A man walks through a wood and finds a lumberjack logging a tree. It’s hard work. After a while the man notices that the lumberjack’s saw is blunt. “You need to sharpen your saw”, he says. “But I have all these trees to chop up”, responds the lumberjack. “I don’t have time to stop and sharpen my saw”.”

In other words, we need to make the time to stop and regroup, reorganise our thoughts, and consider new ways of approaching the future. We need to do this both as people AND as business people. A truly Social Business will build this time into its operations. And it may end up being a lot of time. And, in the short-term at least, time is money.

This is what kills many small businesses efforts on the Social Web. As we know, the Social Web is great for gathering feedback and engaging with your customers. However, most businesses aren’t set up to be Social from the start. They are built around a product or service that they believe to be great, so that is their main focus. When they decide to raise their heads and look at their place in the wider world, it can be quite scary. They are not prepared for the sheer number of man-hours that can be consumed. They have no mechanisms for using feedback constructively. So they flounder and withdraw.

Unless your business has a willingness to listen and people who care enough about their customers to act on what they hear, your Facebook page isn’t going to help your business grow. Your initially enthusiastic Twitter timeline will be unused and useless.

Take the time to stop. Spend time listening. Then act with empathy.

And sleep soundly at night.

Simple answer: Each and every presentation we give makes us a little bit more successful. Even the bad ones.

So if you measure success in terms of money, then every presentation makes us richer. Or if you prefer happiness to be your gauge of success, you will become happier each time you present.

If you’re looking for a little motivation before the next time you stand up to speak to an audience of colleagues, customers or prospects, take a moment to chew over that statement.

While you’re chewing, maybe have a look at a few job advertisments. Notice that for every job with a salary worth getting out of bed for, the candidate will need to have ‘excellent written and verbal communication skills’. Look closer and you’ll see that this is always in the top three requirements. If you’re still chewing, dig out your own job description. If you can’t find it, call HR. Go on, give them something to do. They’ll think that you are either thinking of leaving or asking for a pay rise and will fall into a flat tail-spin. But I’m digressing.

The point is this. The ‘communication skills’ bar is set pretty high. ‘Excellent’ is the requirement and nothing less will do. But interestingly, the bar never moves. ‘Excellent written and verbal communication skills’ are required for everyone from the most junior technician to the Chief Executive. This tells us two things. Firstly, the people that write job descriptions are inherently lazy, which is why asking your HR team to find your job description is such a fun thing to do. And secondly, it says that in order to progress in your career you need to be more excellent than the other excellent communicators around you.

So the next time you prepare a talk, think about how you are going to make it more than ‘excellent’. Then go out and do it. To get the next job on your career path, to get involved in the next exciting project at work, and to spread a little happiness to the world, give yourself permission to be excellent.