Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Your Local Business In Today’s World

It would be nice in a way, to think that time stands still. That what worked in the past will work now and just doing what we always did will keep working for us. Unfortunately whether we like it or not some things change.

Just ask the people who made their business in manufacturing button hooks for lace-up boots that were once the rage. Maybe not since they are long gone, along with the sulky makers and the cars that needed to be hand cranked to get started. Remember audio cassettes and video tapes? Now there was an industry. Replaced by CDs and DVDs and now they are in peril from download.

Some things of course, don’t change. Being well organized in your business will never go out of fashion. Which doesn’t mean being inflexible, but does mean approaching your business with the respect that it deserves. It means taking the right actions for the right reasons. Nourishing the business as necessary, in the form of scheduled marketing, and repeatable quality standards in delivery of services and product, which means good procedures and policies – written down and followed.

Whether you have noticed or not, your market is changing. Your customers are changing and the way they do business, the way they want to do business, has changed. Time is precious for your customers and many of them do their shopping research online.

They want answers when they want them, even if it is 2am and when they look for someone to help them from their plight – whatever it is – they want to be able to find the local business that can help them to do that. If they are looking for something that is in your field, then you bet you want to be there online for them to find, and get all the information they need to satisfy their interest. You want to be found and you want to be sure they have all they need to be able to use your business if they can, to satisfy what is important to them at this time.

Your customers are looking online to find you on Google and guess what? That’s not the only place they are looking now. They are seeking advice from the people around them and online more and more that is the people in their social networks. Need a good mechanic? Ask your network. Need a new accountant or a pool repaired? Social networks, like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, review sites, you name it, they are checking it out. They are finding who is there, and they are finding who has been recommended... and who has been rubbished for their lack of service.

But you probably know this already. As a business owner, you probably do the same thing yourself. The question now is how are you responding to this change in your market, within your business? What are you doing to meet your customers in the new marketplace? How do you let them find you online and what steps have you actively taken to meet their enquiries and respond to their needs?

The tools are available to help you monitor the word that is out there about your business, and to help you spread the good word about your business. It isn’t something to take lightly and it isn’t something to ignore if you want your business to be flexible and able to prosper in the new economy. Databases for marketing, social media, sms text messages and VOIP, inventory management and advanced point of sale technology, online identity and reputation management, recruiting methods are just some of these new tools.

If you have not taken steps yet to address this side of your business, and how that fits with the overall management of your business, then now is a great time to review your direction and plan for the future that is now.

If you have taken steps to move with the times, please do add your comments and share your thoughts so others in local businesses who may still be struggling with these concepts may learn from your experiences too.


Business Planning Now includes Online Business Development

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Leonard Cohen Lessons From A Man of Grace

Four months into my Leonard Cohen obsession, kicked off by seeing him in Australia in concert in the Hunter Valley under the stars at Bimbadgen Estate, I am just now begining to find the words to relate the impact of seeing him perform in this recent tour.

Actually, the impact is unfolding as I have learned more about Leonard Cohen than I ever knew before the concert. While I had liked him well enough before the concert, I'd really only known his very old songs and his voice on those had never really quite "got there" for me. Perhaps it was the primitive recording methods of the late 60's or that his voice had not fully matured or perhaps a combination of the two.

So I went to this concert willingly, and looking forward to seeing the performance, but really clueless as to what it would be like but wishing to keep my good friend company and enjoy this beautiful day in a lovely part of the world with one of the world's preeminent personalities in the world of poetry and music.

Without expectations as such, still any vestige or measure about how good the concert might be was surpassed in short order and from the first step on the stage and the swell of the audience and good spirit directed toward Himself as the musical notes began, set the tone for a performance that literally transported an entire audience.

This aging man, his voice deeper and more resonant than ever captivated each and every person there. From the elderly reliving the songs from their hip (perhaps misspent?) youth, to the children of this group who attended. A spread of ages amazingly broad.

Authenticity is a concept that we see bandied about as desireable quality and yet our examples that splash across our TV and movie screens belie the value of self acceptance. The contrast as we view Leonard Cohen large on the two giant screens at either side of the stage, the cameras zooming into capture his face in unforgiving closeup reveals a man whose vanity lies in the presentation of his thoughts and striving for some kind of impeccability in what he does. Not hiding from reality and pretense of youth, by surgeon's knife and botox. He wears his years with good humour and resignation, perhaps. He has earned the scars and shares them with us. The songs personal and intmate and letting us into the place that is the external representation of his internal landscape. He is no remote 'star'. He is one of us and we appreciate that humility. And we appreciate the marvellous talent that he brought together to create this remarkable presentation of his life's work. And his generosity in sharing the stage and edifying all who made the performances so remarkable, including his band members, but also those responsible for the wonderful sound and the visuals that were to find their way onto the DVD from the London concert.

There are lessons for us all in what happened during this, and each and every other concert that has occurred on this tour. This tour that began as a fighting back, after Leonard Cohen's financial stability was undermined by the very manager he entrusted to safeguard his interests. In the aftermath of the embezzlement that resulted in the loss of some $5million and the resulting court case that vindicated his claim and awarded him damages in excess of the original theft, but with little chance of collecting, at the age of 74 this man, whom many like to portray as being a master of gloom, does what he needs to do and heads back to work. "Back on Boogey Street" and "Just Paying The Rent... In The Tower Of Song". Some strange way to bring this light into all our lives. Go figure. Just be grateful.

And perhaps Leonard Cohen is grateful too. How many of us have the chance to see how profoundly loved we are by so many around the world, whose lives we have touched. What price that experience? Certainly a rare and precious thing. And a reminder to us of how fleeting life is, and how fast time flies, so there is no time to waste. No time to put off creating our own pieces of unique art that will form our own body of work during our life.

No time to waste chasing unattainable perfection, for in Leonard Cohen's words:

"Ring the bells that still can ring.
There is a crack...a crack, in everything.

That's how the light gets in."

So what are the lessons? This will be a topic for another post.

Lessons for us as individuals.

Lessons for us in how we approach our business.


Had to update with this ... I'm Your Man + Recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep.

Video - Where Is My Gypsy Wife Tonight?

Video Hallelujah (droning voice on the soundtrack is not from the band!)

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Lindy Asimus
Design Business Engineering
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