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Being in Business a Disadvantage?

March 20, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
ABT March 17th, 2012

Being in Business a Disadvantage?

There seems to an abundance of programs available if you are going into business. Once you are in business, it seems they forget about you.

Or is it more of our problem as seasoned entrepreneurs?

We sometimes equate being in business as having to know everything. After all, when our customer comes in the door, they are looking to us to steer them in the right direction. It doesn’t matter if it is a car repair shop or a shoe store.

With all of this choice they need to have confidence in us and we need to appear knowledgeable. As products proliferate, so does confusion.

This is why Entrepreneur magazine identified one of the hottest business trends as helping people decide. Think about that: you’re making a business decision to be in business to help others make a decision…

Perhaps it is this daily grind of appearing in control and all-knowing that we lose sight of the nature of entrepreneurship: our businesses operate in a live environment where things are constantly changing.

We may stop asking questions.

After 5 years in business, we may really get in rut. We may be shaking inside, full of doubt but we don’t think we can admit it to anyone.

So much has changed, it may be better to take the attitude we are starting a new business.

Top Trip Experiences Travelers are Planning for 2012: Culture, Cruising and Castaway Experiences on the Rise in 2012

Most of us when we started our business or planned an expansion were in that question and research mode.

Being in business, we have a wonderful opportunity to do the same. It is an advantage that only we have: we can talk to our customer.

We may have to change our perception of customer and entrepreneur to do this effectively however.

Traditionally, we may have viewed our customer in 3 dimensional terms: You offer a product and market it. If they are interested, they respond. You sell, they purchase. If you don’t have what they want, you ask them what they are looking for.

It may be all about “this is what I have to offer, do you want it?”

A far cry from when you were starting or expanding and asking “is there is a need?” You asked yourself everything in terms of quality, quantity, price, how to sell or deliver it. Everything was up for questioning and probing.

When you are planning something, this is what they tell you to do. Once you are in business, you feel you are no longer the child but the parent.

I wonder if we believe it is socially incorrect to have a child’s curiosity and questioning once we open our doors.

Mobile Devices: A "Go To" Travel Resource in 2012 • 44 percent of U.S. travelers plan on using their mobile phone or smartphone more as a travel resource during trips in 2012. • 47 percent expect to use their mobile device for their travel needs at their destination. • 37 percent will use a mobile device for restaurants research *

Don’t look at your customers in that traditional light. Have them come on as “friends.” Ask them some of these questions. Pretend they are your employer or advisory board.

If you are not one of those that feel comfortable doing so, drop a questionnaire as part of your sale. Offer some incentive to do so. Put something on your web site or Facebook page.

Customers today do not want to be just consumers, they want to be what Tapscott and Williams in Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World call “prosumers” and “citizen advocates.” Today’s customer wants to get involved with your business and they are doing so for better or worse. Today, nearly every business gets reviewed and review sites are becoming a major player in nearly every purchase decision that a “prosumer” makes.

Look at your customer as more than a source of revenue.

They can also be: • A product tester • Reviewer of your web site • “Friend” • Marketing agent through their social media channels • Critic

A common mis-perception by many businesses is that a business plan is a long-term document. It is not. It is a snapshot in time that was based on certain marketing, operational and financial information – AT THAT TIME. Things change, you change and certainly your customer habits change.

Its spring and perhaps a time to think new – it may start with new perceptions of what we think a business owner is and the role of our customers.

********* *Information courtesy of an Adworkshop presentation “Marketing Insight for Small Businesses” who cited Tripadvisor and their own sources to a community marketing group.

Adworkshop and a host of tourism organizations have been facilitating a “Marketing Education” component for these meetings.

What’s New and Trending (since we last met in Oct.) • Agile and responsive websites. Also now referred to as Adaptive sites. Social Media platforms gaining ground o Google + o Pinterest • Social Media Platform Changes – Facebook • Siri technology o Yelp • The Power of Reviews *


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