As I scroll through my LinkedIn feed, I am underwhelmed by business and technology trends that are interesting but not important. Social Media experts can tell you exactly what headline to write and more importantly, what pictures to post that will get people to click on your link, thereby validating the expert’s advice. It may be entertaining, but the only beneficiaries are the Social Media experts that have figured out how to get paid for their trendy advice and the platforms we spend our digital days browsing.
LinkedIn should ban the self-congratulatory selfie. Who’s with me?
There are hundreds of things more important than that trend you just read about on LinkedIn. As a small businessperson, you should care more about the issues that affect your business today. Let the CEOs of mega-corporations worry about what Millennials will wear in virtual meetings ten years from now. Off the top of my head, here are five issues that should matter to you, your customers, and your employees – today.
Unemployment is low and that means demand is high. Your skilled workers have more options for switching jobs. It is time you paid attention to reducing their reasons for doing so. Simple solutions are generally the best choice. A pay raise seems straightforward, but that is a commitment that lasts as long as the employee is with you. Instead, find ways to make employees more welcome and comfortable. Reduce their stress at home with better healthcare options. Dole out some much needed recognition. Bonus unselfishly. A little sincerity will go a long way.
Do something for employees that says, “I trust you.”
Every small business owner I know understands that cash flow is critical. Only one in ten seem to have it under control, though. Instead of having a team meeting to discuss what goes on your Facebook page, work on reducing the stress of not having enough cash. Change your receivables policies, update your terms, offer payment incentives, renegotiate your line of credit, ask for a float on your rent in exchange for another year or two on the lease. Do something that says this is important.
Don’t ask to be paid, expect it.
Here’s a novel idea: Pay attention to your customers. Instead of reading about them, why not talk to them? Solicit some honest feedback. “What would make us easier to do business with?” or, “What do you wish we were better at?” You have every reason to worry about the responses, which is exactly why you need to ask the questions.
The person asking the question influences the response.
Time is Money
Just for fun, analyze your “best” and “worst” customers in terms of their perceived profitability. Now, quantify your assessment by asking everyone in the company to estimate how much time they spent serving that account. Don’t be surprised if the hours reported exceed the hours in a work day, because that’s how we roll now. If you could reduce the time it takes to serve your best customers (work smarter, add infrastructure, redefine the needs), could you turn another customer into a better one?
You have free time that you are using for something else.
Show Some Pride
It pains me to say this – and we all suffer from it in some fashion – your office environment needs some attention. Tidiness may not be important to you, but it matters to a lot of people. If you are inherently messy, then you should not be in charge of defining how clean your corporate headquarters should be. This may seem unimportant compared to the other items on this list, but pride in appearance will positively affect everything I have cited above.
Be a company that people respect.
If you will commit to putting energy into each of these items for one year and blog about your success along the way, then next year I will write a very trendy post about how the most successful companies aren’t trendy at all.