Remember life before Uber, Spotify and Airbnb, when you hailed a taxi, bought CDs and pulled into a motel for the night? Commerce isn’t what it was 10 years ago, and technological advancements in a fast-changing marketplace are putting start-ups that think outside the box ahead of more traditional companies.
To stay ahead at a digital time, you need to ensure you’re not losing ground (and customers) because of outdated business practices and approaches.
Read these nine shifts from old to new thinking to stay ahead and thrive in a world where information is readily available and the market doesn’t sleep.
1. In-house vs Outsourcing
Old business is very hands-on. The adage ‘if you want to get it done right, you have to do it yourself’ can be the death of a business in today’s market.
If you think outsourcing is limited to farming out your customers to a call centre overseas, then you’re missing the true point of outsourcing.
Ask yourself ‘What are the tasks we do in-house that could be done remotely, from home or by a sub-contractor? From sales to cleaning, graphic design to admin, most, if not all can be outsourced saving your business valuable resources, time, space and money!
2. Manual vs Automation
Gone are the days of staying back late to work extraordinarily long hours just to get on top of things, unless of course you are running your business on outdated systems or with outdated staff (including yourself!)
Automation is a way to simplify and streamline your systems and processes internally and externally. There’s a vast array of options available to automate almost every aspect of your business from email marketing to sales.
Initially extra time is needed while you put the systems in place to automate but in the long run your business will benefit from using the sophisticated online tools to automate many of your labour intensive processes.
3. Slow moving vs Fast acting
Traditional businesses are slow to move. When they do it’s often through sudden change. New businesses are constantly tracking and measuring to effectively implement small changes when the need arises.
Businesses in the past were more reactive, running on short-term decisions or tolerating a situation rather than implementing change. Technology enables today’s business to predict and extrapolate with more accuracy and to change course swiftly and frequently. It’s the difference between the old ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and the new ‘this isn’t working, let’s change.’
With the advantage of faster test marketing through social media and other online platforms, today’s business no longer needs to commit to ‘one way’ and can quickly pull down a promotion that isn’t working. They may run many trials or prototypes before one succeeds. This allows them to ‘fail quickly’ (and cheaply) before investing a bigger budget into the most effective solution.
Scaling a great idea quickly is also necessary in today’s market. Businesses no longer have the luxury of a slow launch. Getting an idea to market quickly can mean keeping one step ahead of your competitor to claim a greater slice of the market.
4. Managing vs Leading
Many businesses, old and new still have a long way to go before this paradigm shifts. They still try to manage their employees in a hierarchical way by imposing strict rules, conditions and decisions.
The difference with new managers is they empower, coach and guide their teams to make the right decisions. They encourage staff to offer ideas, look for solutions, collaborate between departments and search for continuous improvement opportunities.
New managers don’t feel threatened by those they manage. They demonstrate true leadership and inspire their teams to greatness. An inspired team that is encouraged and rewarded can transform a business almost overnight.
5. Company oriented vs Customer oriented
Customer-centric companies in today’s marketplace are in a category of their own. With online review platforms that can make or break a business, now more than ever it’s time to bring your customer service A-game.
That’s not to suggest old businesses weren’t focused on providing great customer service. Most wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t and good old-fashioned service goes a long way.
The new shift is in the level of bend-over-backward service. Customer-focussed businesses have created an art-form of offering personalised experiences and amazing perks backed up by quality products and services. They listen to their customers and take full advantage of data and technology to understand what makes them tick.
6. One size fits all vs Targeted solutions
One-size-fits-all may be perfect for that mu-mu you bought in Vanuatu, but when it comes to today’s business you can no longer afford to be everything to everyone. ‘Niching’ is the new black when it comes to business!
To be seen above the crowd you need to do one thing extremely well. That ‘thing’ could still be pharmacy or farm supplies, spray painting or bookkeeping. When it comes to marketing however, the narrower your focus, the more you are able to customise a solution for that market.
Knowing your ideal customer and creating your customer avatar is a great place to start when determining your brand values and advertising strategy.
7. Walk in vs Online
This is one area where you can have it all – a walk in business and an online business. In fact every business should be online, so it’s not an either/or scenario. The shift is that many shopfront businesses are opting out and taking their entire business online, with great success. Only you can decide whether and when to take that leap.
There are still many benefits of a bricks and mortar business. A large sector of the market likes to shop in a physical store. They feel more confident in dealing face-to-face and seeing the products in real life. Customers also like to try before they buy and have their purchase instantly. Online stores are a little way off delivering on that last promise but many are doing same-day shipping.
8. Traditional media vs Social media
There is clearly a place for traditional and social media otherwise we wouldn’t still have TV, newspaper or radio ads. Magazines still carry a level of exclusivity and the beauty is brands have more choice than ever when it comes to building their presence.
In traditional media there is no conversation. The message is locked in and put out whereas social media evolves the message and engages customers. As well as interacting with you, consumers can interact with each other creating valuable insight and feedback.
Social media advertising is delivered more as a close conversation rather than a flashy ‘look at me’ billboard. In this way it can be more effective.
Time-wise, your social media message can be created and delivered within hours, even minutes where the lead-time for traditional media is lengthy.
The cost difference is beyond compare. To publish and disseminate your message to your target market anywhere in the world through social media starts in the cents allowing any size business to start small and reach future customers. You need to know what you’re doing though or you can waste money pressing that blue Facebook boost button with no results.
Remember, large companies spend big budgets on both traditional and social media. It’s not one over the other. Both have their place.
9. Spending cash vs Cashless trading
One trend that continues to grow despite having been around for centuries is bartering. The main difference is the old model of direct barter or ‘contra’ relied on both parties having something that the other wanted. The restaurant owner could find a builder to do his renovations, but it would take years for the builder to earn back his work!
With the introduction of cashless trading systems like Bartercard, businesses can now utilise a system that keeps track of all their transactions without a direct swap.
Businesses tap into Bartercard’s online marketplace to attract new business around the world… and locally. The system is designed to expand your business and your profits by keeping cash in your pocket.