Business Tips for a Changing World
Experienced business leaders share some ideas on how newcomers can navigate the “new normal” economy
Editor’s note: This article is part of Lessons from Leaders, a Next Avenue initiative made possible by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and EIX, the Entrepreneur Innovation Exchange.
Maybe your business needs to redesign your company's website, increase sales online or catch up with technology or infrastructure to meet the challenges of the "new normal" economy, with its persistent inflation, tech layoffs and speculation about a recession.
Next Avenue wanted to find out what this year's best business strategies are — and boy, did experienced business leaders jump at the chance to mass-mentor others! Following are some of the best strategies companies say they recommend to weather the current economy.
"Ninety-nine percent of the world spends half their days on their phones. . . . Just be there."
More help specific to individual businesses is available free from SCORE, which is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, or for a fee from such online platforms as Findamentor.com. Small-business owners also have sparked relationships by networking with potential mentors at trade shows, industry conferences and professional association meetings.
Invest in Talent
According to Russell Reynolds Associates' Q4 Global Leadership Monitor, 92% of leaders believe that investing in critical talent is the key to weathering economic uncertainty.
As the workforce braces for slower economic growth or faster price increases, many CEOs and business leaders are considering ways to face these potential challenges without having to resort to workforce reductions.
Jenna Fisher, a C-suite recruiter and leadership adviser at Russell Reynolds Associates in Palo Alto and San Francisco, says that investing strategically in technological innovation and embracing opportunities to find better hybrid work experiences for employees should be at the top of the list.
Adopting talent-centric business strategies is equally important, she adds, starting with an agile leadership pipeline to quickly elevate high-performing talent into leadership roles. Investing in your people always pays off.
Develop a Digital Personality
Success in this new economy requires digital evolution, says Scott Vasilisin, co-founder and CEO of Nxt Era Marketing, which provides digital marketing services. "Be sure you establish a presence digitally on social channels. Develop a personality for yourself or your brand to stay top of mind.
"Ninety-nine percent of the world spends half their days on their phones," he says. "You must show up in their lives daily. Presence is everything, whether it's physical or digital. Just be there."
Take Care of Staff
Employees have been crucial in keeping organizations afloat in the COVID pandemic, notes Mark Lindquist, head of marketing at Community Phone, a wireless landline service that connects home phones to nearby cell towers.
"They should feel heard if they have worries about their general well-being, job security, housing or financial stability."
Lindquist says to build stronger ties with your team by encouraging input through established channels. "They should feel heard if they have worries about their general well-being, job security, housing or financial stability," he says.
He also points out that there's a better way to communicate change that affects the company beyond simply announcing the news by surprise. Ask employees for input and opinions first. "When it comes to the emotional and physical well-being of your staff, listening to their feedback can go a long way," Lindquist says. "Employee morale should rise as the economy and business begin to improve."
Return to the 'Old' Normal
"Everyone refers to the 'new economy' or 'new normal,'" says John Frigo, eCommerce manager at Best Price Nutrition, an online retailer of nutrition supplements. "Personally, I see opportunity in going back to the old normal."
"What I see across all industries is the quality of goods has gone down, the quality of customer service has gone down, and quite frankly, people just don't care as much," Frigo adds. During the pandemic, he continues, every day seemed like it was a "snow day."
If something didn't show up on time, there were supply chain shortages or labor problems; it was all blamed on COVID, whether true or not. "Some of that lackluster attitude has stuck around . . . so I see opportunity in returning to the old normal and delivering high-quality products, quality experiences and good customer service like it used to be," Frigo says.
"It's more important than ever to connect with your audience on a human level and make them feel seen, heard and valued."
Connect with Clients
Humanizing your business brand can be the difference between surviving and thriving in today's economy, says Puja Mishra, president and brand strategist for Zoom into Life, a boutique brand agency that works with entrepreneurs and influencers.
"In the aftermath of the pandemic, it's more important than ever to connect with your audience on a human level and make them feel seen, heard and valued," she says. By displaying your business values through marketing, you can inspire trust and create lasting relationships with your customers.
Mishra advises elevating your brand's presence and cultivating a deep, meaningful connection with your clients, customers or base. In other words, focus on the people you serve.
Try Influencer Marketing
Brands collaborate with influencers to introduce their products and services to the market. Influencers then "influence" their followers to visit the business' website and buy the products or use its services.
"Choosing the right influencer is essential, as they will be the face of your brand."
"We have been using this as one of our tools, and it has been successful so far, says Veronica Thompson, COO of Everyday Power, an online source of inspirational quotes and articles for self-improvement. "However," she adds, "choosing the right influencer is essential, as they will be the face of your brand, and anything that they do will be associated with your company."
This type of marketing — relying on a sole source to market your brand and have their name and likeness skewed to your company — can attract many customers or cause your brand to collapse, adds Thompson. So, if you go this route, choose the influencer with utmost care.
Use Social Media
"For better marketing, we post on social media," says Craig Miller, co-founder of Academia Labs, an online resource for students interested in scientific careers and degree programs. "We prefer Facebook and TikTok. Facebook is still very effective in reaching a targeted customer base as it has Facebook groups that can be very specific to our niche."
TikTok, on the other hand, has been gaining popularity among businesses. "TikTok ads are now being widely used, so we want to ride on this popularity and market our products and services using the platform," adds Miller.
He says before the pandemic, they only used LinkedIn to reach a more professional customer base, but it proved slow and didn't produce the best results. Experiment with the social media platforms that work best for your business.
Embrace the Millennial Mindset
To succeed in this new economy, it's important to understand that not only has our economy changed, but our workforce has changed as well, adds Adrian Carter, who runs Beastly Energy, a resource on energy drinks.
"Millennials now make up over half of our workforce, and they have very different expectations than previous generations about what it means to have a career."
"For example, millennials now make up over half of our workforce, and they have very different expectations than previous generations about what it means to have a career," says Carter. "They value flexibility over stability, collaboration over competition, and technology over face time."
Millennials also have different skill sets than their predecessors simply because of their access to technology — and are often able to do more with less effort. They may be more productive while working fewer hours than previous generations did at the same age.
Employers who embrace the millennial mindset — flexibility, collaboration and technology — may find enhanced productivity company-wide.