Have customers stopped caring or is there little for them to care about? How can your business continue to thrive in this increasingly confused marketplace?
As business owners, we all ask ourselves these questions, so to kick off the new 2015 business year, we invited a business speaker, Curt Skene, to present to over 100 business owners across Ontario and try to provide some concrete answers to these key questions.
The actual presentation was called Insights for Attracting and Sustaining Profitable Business, and I’d like to share with you my learnings and top five tips on how to make 2015 your best year ever:
- Know Everything About Your Customer: Sometimes we don’t ask our customers questions, and sometimes we don’t ask them the right questions. We all know customers are 100% of our business, so make sure you understand them better by asking them thoughtful questions about their business and then turning that into an opportunity to align yourself with their business.
- Provide a Solution Not a Service: Think about what problem your business solves for your customer. If you are an RMT, are you trying to reduce stress or relax muscles…or both? What exactly is the solution you offer and start thinking in those terms when describing your business. It needs to be a value-based solution.
- Create a WOW in Your Business: Do you know what creates a WOW for your customer? If you don’t, find out by asking them. Your customers chose you when there are so many other companies bidding for their attention. Why? Find out and then leverage it in your marketing strategy.
- Have a Hero: It may seem trite, but these days more than ever, we all need to have a hero, a mentor, someone alive or not, to whom we can align our own thoughts and values. A good example was Mayor Rudy Giuliani who when faced with the atrocities of September 11th, recalled his hero Sir Winston Churchill for guidance and strength to help him manage this crisis.
- Leverage Your Network Better: We all know hundreds of people and thanks to social media networks, we all know far more than we think we know. Take the time to tap in to your networks, family, friends and social media, to see who you know and how you can “connect”.
While growing your business is important, it will never grow if we don’t take the time to focus on who you are and who your customers are. Sometimes this means conducting market research, but the more you know, the more you can grow!
How well do you think you know your customers? When was that last time you surveyed your customers (and not with a printed or electronic survey)? Do you think of your business as helping your customers? If not, then why not? Let me know in the comment section below.
In the world of business, I’ve noticed that the term “managing” and “coaching” are often mistakenly interchanged, especially in more informal settings between two parties in the workplace. So what is the difference between these two roles, and are we channeling our managing skills when we should be coaching and vice-versa?
When we think of the word coach, we might initially picture a sports coach- energetic, passionate and shouting encouragement from the sidelines. How does this differ from our perception of a manager? Perhaps we associate a manager with a work setting, and an exchange of instructions or expectations between a senior individual and his or her direct report.
While the roles often become blended in the workplace, what are some of the key differences between a manager and a coach?
- Coaching requires relationship development: In order to be an effective coach, a relationship of trust, respect and interest in the others’ success is required between two individuals.
- Managing is directive, coaching is teaching: A coach provides tools and skills to assist the individual achieve the outcome. A coach will allow the individual to make decisions, cultivate their creativity and learn by doing. A manager provides instructions and monitors performance.
- Managing is often task-oriented and individuals perform their tasks to meet specific project outcomes; Coaching is long-term and involves supporting already high-functioning people to achieve both the goals of the project and improve their individual skills
There is nothing inherently better or worse than being more of a manager or a coach, however, you will find that different situations call upon you to apply qualities that are specific to one role or the other and being aware of when it is best to coach or to manage is a skill on its own.
When to manage:
- A crisis or high-stress situation: Managing would be best employed in a situation where a specific outcome needs to be realized and employees or colleagues may require direction instruction and follow-up.
- Individual who is learning a new role and still developing skills: More hands-on management is required for new employees in order for them to understand the workplace culture and a manager’s expectations for performance.
When to coach:
- High functioning work team: High functioning individuals already know the expectations of their roles and are competent performers. They require support and vision from their coach and they are motivated to perform their best because they have the trust of their coach.
- When mistakes can lead to constructive learning: When the situation allows you to take risks, a coach will allow their employees to employ trial-and-error tactics and potentially make mistakes to discover the best way to accomplish something. This ultimately leads to greater learning, understanding and ownership over a project.
- *Most of the time: As a coach, you are encouraging initiative, learning and the development of a personal style, which not only helps you achieve the goals of your company, but fosters motivation and productivity in the workplace.
Can you identify times when you have been a coach or a manager? What other situations require a more managerial approach? I look forward to your thoughts below.