Tweak Your Biz » Growth » Declaring War On Your Business

Declaring War On Your Business



As a small business owner, you ARE your business. If you have ever seen any of the worldwide Dragon’s Den type programmes on the TV, you will observe that the dragons invest in the person behind the business as much as the concept itself.

It is important for the business owner, to constantly watch trends, be familiar with their market, and adapt to the changes that invariably happen. We also need to keep an eagle eye on what the competition is up to, and notice what they are changing, and are those changes in line with consumer changes, or are they trying to influence the consumer / client.

This is where business owners can get “bogged down”. Constantly watching out for the enemy, copying their strategies, playing cat and mouse to try and gain ground.

Let’s say our business has been successful in the past, and now, inevitably things are tough. We batten down the hatches, cut costs, cut prices, downsize, and cut budgets. You are probably familiar with any one of these strategies.

But why do we do this? Because the strategists recommend it? Because your competition is doing it? Because of the proven facts from the past? Because historically, it works?

Think about this: where do we get the notion that repetition is the best tactic? What influences us to think that what worked before will work today for our business?

Now think about this… Is this the same type of recession as before? Will the next boom (there WILL be a next boom) be the same as the previous one? I would imagine no, and no!

So, why then, are we doing the same things now that we did before?

My challenge to you today, is to question everything you are doing in your business, that is based on something done before. Survival in business is similar to survival in War. The great warriors survived, and succeeded because they improvised and never used the same strategy in two battles.

Napoleon was ridiculed for his childlike behaviour by the Prussians in the late 1790’s (The 33 Strategies of War). They used previously successful strategies to finally declare war on him in 1806. The only problem was, they were so busy executing known tactics that Napoleon himself, who had no rulebook, was already marching on Prussia by the time they declared war. He practically destroyed their armies.

He used the Keys to Warfare:

  • Re-examine all your cherished beliefs and principles
  • Erase the memory of the last war (sale)
  • Keep your mind moving
  • Absorb the spirit of the times
  • Reverse course

He “forgot” his last victories or loses, swiftly moved on, and prepared for the next battle based on what he was faced with ahead of him, not behind him.

Today, how are you going to prepare for tomorrow’s battle in business? Please share with us below…

 

 



The Author:

Elaine Rogers is a Business Training & Development Specialist. She provides training and coaching in the areas of IT Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. Elaine has just launched a new online training store at http://www.thesmarttrain.com that provides videos and workshops in the areas of IT, Business and Soft Skills. http://www.thesmarttrain.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/fredchannel Fred

    Great post Elaine. What do people do the same thing over and over? Most of them because they don’t want to think. For those that have whatever obstacle but have the intention of being creative, different, innovative, simply become friend with strategic books that will help you grow. For the past two years we’ve been getting a wave of ideas from everything we read. In terms of PURE ideas generation, I’m reading now Thinkertoys http://amzn.to/h289JS . It’s a phenomenal book that already paid for itself , big time.nWant to get more reading and faster? Get an Amazon Kindle for 100 quid. It’s extremely flat and you can load a million books there if you wish.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Great post Elaine, and one that I can vouch for! So many small business owners should really read this, particularly in the more traditional sectors. So many out there are so caught up in trying to do more of the same, that they never have given themselves a chance to realise that the same old is now often entirety ineffective. The world has moved on, and they were too busy sticking their guns to notice. Find new ways people.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Thank you Fred, that’s a great point about using eBooks to read faster – I will check out your recommendation on the book (but am holding out for an iPad 2)nnReading is a great way to expand the mind – if the mind wishes to be expanded, that is :)nYou can bring a horse to the trough, but…nIf a business owner is not ready to move on, leave behind old beliefs, ideas, and strategies, then the inevitable happens.nnThanks for reading and adding your thoughts!

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Thank you for recommending that sm businesses should read this post Niall.nI agree about traditional sectors. I have come across many professions at our networking events in North Cork (http://opencoffeemallow.wordpress.com/) that are not “open” to news ways of connecting, and the importance of building relationships, online as well as offline.nThey do not attend anymore :)nnBut those that do, they are the people who will move with the times, rather than trying to stall time. Whoever thinks that business does not evolve just like the people that run them evolve, will struggle in the future, if not already today.

  • Facundo

    You can only fit about 3000 in a Kindle actually @Fred (only messing). nGreat post Elaine. It also makes me think about how useful stubbornness can be in terms of not listening to the rest (can be dangerous but in these times of pure noise seems very sensible)

  • Satheesh Vattem

    Interesting points there. A live example of a company that made such a turn around by thinking out of the box is right before us – Apple. They were in such doldrums earlier though they really were not a small firm. But with a lot of innovation they revolutionized first the walk man market with Ipod to such an extent that the leader in the market Sony was caught napping, not prepared for a competitor to come from a completely new direction and knock them out. They have since then been creating their own paths and walking them also with such success. In this new business environment, it is just so important to be aware of the market and also being able to find / even create one’s own market. Innovation is the key and to quote the clicked – Change is the only Constant

  • Anonymous

    Your analogy is a powerful one! Sometimes you have to blow things up to see what still works. Getting rid of cherished ideas, products/services, even customers takes commitment to staying true to what is important to you and what is most beneficial to your business.nnAs a good friend of mine reminded me recently, change can either be managed or run you over.

  • http://www.sharonhearty.com Sharon

    Elaine your post is powerful and taps into the fundamentals that require change or lets say a ‘re-framing of the mindset’. Many business owners are paralysed by the current environment and particularly in the traditional sectors. As a ‘blow in to Ireland’ only from the North but never the less the differences in the two jurisdictions are considerable when one peels back the layers…. However, in my experience in the past few years in Ireland the independent business owner has not had to go into any kind of battle like they are in now. The toughest aspect of this current battle is learning the new tactics of survival and they are simply not armed with some of the basics; how to take care of, guide and direct their own army of comrades i.e their customers, their teams and just even themselves through the battlefield. From my perspective preparing for battle means the leader needs to know how to go into battle to win and that is the challenge for business owners who see the battle rage before them – first prepare for battle and it is how to prepare that can often paralyse. The battlefield is the market one needs to navigate. Loved your post.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Thank you Satheesh, some very valid points there adding to the conversation.nnIt has been said, that to be ahead all of the time can get very tiring, and counter-productive. An argument I heard against this was, that to be ahead, a business can simply use the energy that would otherwise be used up trying to compete and struggle to catch up with competitors. nnSo rather than trying to keep up with others, simply go off on a different slant altogether.nnApple is a great example, but remember the man behind the company, the driving force, has an ego to match the size of his corporation. This ego nearly killed Apple, but he had the grace to step back when he needed to, and he came back in just the right moment, to do good again.nnNow Sony, Nokia etc need so much energy and resources just to keep up, whereas Apple are using that energy to steam ahead :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    So true Elli, nnI had someone ask me recently, was it really ok to say no to a difficult client, and forsake revenue. So he tried it out and next time I saw him, he was so grateful for allowing himself to protect himself and his business from much stress and lost resources.nnIn my mind, that is getting rid of certain cherished ideas about business. But because behind every business is a business owner, they must allow themselves to make that decision, by granting permission without regret or guilt.nnThanks for sharing your thoughts on change too :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Thank you kindly Sharon,nBusiness used to be quite straight forward, organised and timed, just like battles of early times. The date, time and location set in advance, they even took breaks to clear away the casualties or sit out a storm etc.nnToday’s battlefield is full of guerrilla warfare, hidden landmines, and powerful weapons, and the business world out there is similar. So it does require change, adaptation, and willingness to be different. nnHowever, I believe it is important to maintain authenticity in our own work, our services, our products and how we deal with our clients/customers. Time for us to stop staring into the headlights, because the vehicle has long gone.nnI also think we are quick to follow the blame culture, and feel victimised in Ireland of today. We, as business owners, do have choices still, and need to take back our power, put on our armour, and head into battle, with a win in mind, not a “here we go again” attitude.

  • Satheesh Vattem

    That’s very interesting take on staying ahead of competition. I already feel that the constant pressure to stay ahead is really hitting Apple now..going by the reactions to their latest releases and how their competitors like HTC, Samsung are actually coming up with better products following their lead. I feel the advantage a leader has is that there would always be a chunk of people who adapted the first time and are averse to frequent change who would continue to feed to the company. And there’s a catch there in the sense that if a company keeps working of this smaller crowd of loyal customers rather than have the bigger picture I feel they would end up like Nokia where they just gave away their advantage because they were happy dealing with their loyal customers and build small upgrades for them rather than get new ones who were going in a smart phone direction.nnI also think that Apple has not really learnt a lot from its earlier mistakes when it could not compete with Microsoft in the PC market because of their closed and inflexible approach. If it was MS then, it is going to be Google with its Android platform who will do it for them now. And I see this as being their biggest challenge rather than their capabilities – which never have been a problem. How will they cope with the “Open” market.nnI don’t want to write the obituary for Nokia / Sony yet but I guess the writing is definitely on the wall for them and they are to be blamed for it more than anybody else.

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks Niall. I know Samantha to be a true professional and very hard worker. I think that is very important to making a company successful too

  • http://www.garrendennylane.com/blog Lorna

    Wow, what a brilliant good news story.. Hats off to Samantha :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/thevirtualoffice Samantha Clooney

    Hi Everyone! thanks for all your lovely comments! It certainly does the heart good :) the beginning of this year has been a very tough one, but it just got better and better as the year went on.  I think Persistence is definitely key! 

  • Anonymous

    Sian, nice interview!  You did a great job.

    I am always interested to see how many people join a mastermind group or other coaching, and transform their businesses, as Samantha describes.

    - Anita

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie Sian Phillips

    Thanks Anita. It seems to be working well for Samantha. Plus just heard that an Irish Sunday newspaper saw this and have contacted her for an interview too – happy days :)

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    It has occurred to me that I have set the bar high for myself in 2012 and I daren’t risk being late with a post again after this…
    Mr Devitt is in fact a good sport. Cool :)
    ~ Helen

  • Eamonn O’Brien

    I really enjoyed your article Helen, nicely done. I’m with you on this – responding to criticism can rankle a bit but ‘fessing up to problems or mistakes quickly, honesty and offering solutions for the future strike me as good ideas. I think you cover off on 3 counts when you do this – a) you show you’re listening, b) you respond positively to look after your customers’ interests, and c) you move the story on to what you’re doing now vs where you’ve been. 

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Your comment rounds off the post nicely there Eamonn, well put. Thank you!
    ~Helen

  • Guest

    I was expecting an actual ‘call out’ here – this, rather, was neither a call out nor criticism, just a tongue in cheek comment in jest…#disappointed, heheh :-) 

  • http://twitter.com/delwilliams Del Williams

    Your post is smart, but the example you use sorta bothers me, though I can see it was tongue in cheek. If it had been a real call out, then I would have questioned the one who chose to take it to a public forum when they could have dealt with you privately. This is a HUGE problem in social media, since people seem to skip over etiquette and taking issues public which need not be. I have found the reason is not usually honorable, but manipulative. I could give you story after story of people who have “called people/companies out” in public without even attempting to handle the problem in other ways. Some say it is because they get a faster response, but I hold attempting to give a person/company a bad mark publicly first is wrong. Your response was good leaving all egos in check. 

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Hi Del
    I’m not sure why the example I used bothers you, but I didn’t want to focus on a real complaint and potentially embarrass a business owner. As you say, the example is tongue-in-cheek :)
    Yes it’s true that people do a “knee jerk” call out on Social Media now without attempting to resolve the issue with the business first. This is the world that we live in, so businesses have to deal with that. Many of my clients are in the tourism sector, and have to deal with poor reviews on Trip Advisor, and the 3 components of a good response are derived from dealing with actual complaints there, some of these complaints being justified, some not. As I say in the article, “The important thing to remember when formulating a response on a social media forum is that you are primarily writing it for visitors to the forum and not for the person who made the comment in the first place.” How you deal with a complaint says a lot about your business, and that is what matters in the end, rather than the complaint itself. I’m  Thanks for adding to the post Del. 
    ~Helen

  • http://www.ietherspeak.com/ Liz

    Good example.   I don’t like public call outs – I think it should be done privately – but this was a good example nonetheless.  In fact, depending on the feel of the facebook account and culture of the company, it might have been very appropriate.  

    I thought your response was good, and the fact that you already submitted two posts to complete the year rather than saying you ‘are going to submit’.  You were pro-active and proved it.

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Chuck. And what a great first post. Definitely making the customer feel special will reap rewards and you’ve provided some good examples too. Looking forward to your next post.

  • http://twitter.com/JKConsultancy27 Jason King

    I’m a big advocate of personalisation, a particular benefit smaller businesses have over their larger competitors. Although with Netflix & Amazon you’ve provided good examples of scaled personalisation. Interesting blog :)

  • http://fobajob.com/ Connor Keppel

    Welcome to TYB biz Chuck. Just a thought for a follow-up post: how about doing one the personalization of marketing and comms activity for businesses. Even though many companies offer customization it’s sometimes lost in translation when marketing to consumers. Great post.

  • Elish Bul-Godley

    Greetings Bamidele & Welcome to the blog group. That was a very useful post which touched on issues and the ” type of post” we have all been observing and discussing for some time here. I especially like the point you made distinguishing resource posts from tips and the whole tips list thing has been an over-saturated part of the business blog sphere and it is becoming apparent the content is getting more pithy and dilute.

  • http://www.AchieveTheGreenBeretWay.com/welcome Michael Martel

    Nice list. I definitely think the speed issue is important. I will click away if I stumble on a site and it loads really slowly.

  • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

    Bamidele Onibalusi: Your post made me realize once again that I have to present my services in a more “packaged” way, in order to generate the right leads. But on the other hand… ;) This is a topic that I will write a post on, drawing my 11 years of blogging and how it have resulted in business according to the referral process (know, like, trust, ref., profit). Dr. Ivan Misner created the V.C.P (visibility, credibility and profitability) process that is taught at BNI.

  • Bamidele Onibalusi

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)

  • Bamidele Onibalusi

    I’m glad you agreed on the speed issue; sometimes, “little” changes like that could have a lot of impact.

  • Bamidele Onibalusi

    You’re welcome, Elish!

    You’re right, it’s easier to confuse list posts with resources posts but there’s a huge difference between them. Every resource post I’ve ever published on any of my blogs have resulted in significantly more traffic than other posts, especially on the long-term.

  • Bamidele Onibalusi

    Thanks for hosting me, Niall! It’s a pleasure contributing to Tweak Your Biz :)

    I’m also glad that you agree with my points based on your own experience. Proof that this actually works. Thanks!

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Bamidele, I really enjoyed this post, a lot of takeaways here.

    A lot of businesses, especially small businesses find this “blogging” and “content marketing” thing a bit difficult to get their head around and generally aren’t easily sold on the benefits.

    The proof is in the pudding as they say because when my agency launched a new service (new brand and new website too) .. our first paying client came off the bat of a single article that I wrote on the blog of our new site – just so happens that we’ve got a great relationship with this client now that’s been very mutually beneficial and they’re still a paying customer now.

    The key is getting your content in front of the right people and the resource posts that you mentioned are an amazing way of doing that.

    Especially when you reach out to the people/companies that you have mentioned via email or social media and ask them to share.

    Thanks for a great read!

  • Kim Huang

    Bamidele, I recently came across a free tool called meetleads, which generates leads from your blog. Just wanted to share with you.

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Tarun. Preferring online shopping myself I’d welcome any improvements in actual stores to entice me to use them. You’ve made some great points and I look forward to your next post