As 2016 ends, it’s natural to look back at the eventful year we’ve all had. It’s been a year of big changes across industries, major events in international politics, in sports, technology, pop culture and, as always, in our individual lives.
For me, publishing Insights has been a significant highlight of the year. In January, we looked at The Power of Thank You, and it is with this in mind that I write this final blog of 2016.
Thank you for reading and responding, whether on the blog or in person. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you, and the feedback I have received from manufacturers, retailers and other readers on the articles has been invaluable. Most important, thank you for sharing your own thoughts and opinions.
I’ve written in the past about how “cool” it is to be an entrepreneur. How entrepreneurial business leaders make a difference in their community, finding fulfillment and control of their personal destiny.
But is entrepreneurship for everyone? Do you have it in you to become a great entrepreneur?
Many people point to the success of entrepreneurs as having the “Midas Touch.” That’s all well and good, but undermines the fact that entrepreneurial success is hard work and requires a commitment and dedication that many don’t have.
Most businesses face two constant truths: their success hinges on great customer service, and their owners can’t be everywhere at once.
Our last few articles looked at just how crucial customer service can be. Without us even knowing, a single poor experience can lose a customer – perhaps forever. On the flipside, I believe delivering the right customer experience will make lifelong, loyal customers.
But how does one consistently deliver the right customer experience, especially as your business grows and you cannot always be the face the customer sees? The answer: by developing a strong company culture that reinforces your values. Those things that set your company apart from your competition.
Want to be a better leader? Check your ego at the door.
The most successful leaders focus on the needs of others before themselves. While this is especially true in regards to your employees, it’s also an important trait to maintain with your customers, friends, family and people in general.
As a business leader, your job is addressing the needs of your team and customers while providing leadership to fulfill them. This is an art, but the humble commitment to your team, customers and others—listening and responding to their needs— makes for solid leadership and ultimately drives innovation and success.
For decades universities have been the assumed “go-to” for Canadian youth. Parents and educators alike have pointed to the university system as the means to jobs, financial security, wealth and rewards. Employers, in turn, have bought into a sort of “credentialism” that reemphasized this idea.
But has that changed?
I’m a strong believer in social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. And few in the lumber and building materials industry would suggest they don’t need to have a presence on it.
But too often I see this new digital frontier being treated as a one-off effort. Like any worthwhile project, social media requires a long-term approach to build and maintain; it’s not a one-and-done, fire-and-forget endeavour.
Social media can be an extremely valuable marketing and branding tool for lumber and building material dealers who take the time to understand the opportunity, and devote the time and resources to make the most of it.
There’s no question that today’s consumers are smarter and better informed. They have access to the Internet for everything. Online reviews from friends and family confirm whether or not a product is worthy of your attention.
Studies show that nearly 9 in 10 consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business or product, and almost 4 in 10 do it on a regular basis.1 This trend is predicted to grow.
But, as consumers, are we more rational? Evidence suggests that this is more myth than fact.
If you love sports like I do—whether it’s baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, or tuning into the Olympics—you probably marvel at the phenomenal ability of the athletes involved. You have to wonder what makes them so talented, so gifted, that they can perform at such a high level, day, after day.
These talented athletes make plays we mere mortals can only dream about. Where does that extraordinary ability come from? Is greatness a genetic gift that these athletes are born with?
Is the same true in business? Are successful entrepreneurs born with a business gene? We often refer to it as the Midas touch: whatever they touch turns to gold. Or, can anyone be great at what they do?
The bigger question is: where are all the tradespeople going to come from?
In Canada we may see a shortfall of one million workers by 2020 due primarily to an aging population and declining birth rates. As Baby Boomers gear up for retirement, there simply aren’t enough of the next generation to fill those vacant jobs.
When communication breaks down, businesses break down. To be successful, we must keep communications simple (and, as direct as possible). The more complicated the communication process, the more likely there is to be miscommunication, confusion and, ultimately, mistakes.
In the 1960s the U.S. Navy developed an acronym (KISS) for the design principle suggesting that most systems work best if kept simple rather than made complicated.
Back then even the Navy recognized we made things more complex than they needed to be. In business, it’s a real detriment.