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Building A Strong Online Business

Running an online business can give you the freedom to live life on your terms, but only if you know what you’re doing.

If you walk up to people on the street and ask them what the No. 1 thing is that they want most out of life, the answers will all likely have something to do with one word: freedom. Financial freedom, geographical freedom, the freedom to live your life on your own terms and take control of your destiny. It almost sounds too good to be true … But in today’s age, it has become not only a possibility, but a reality for many entrepreneurs who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands by taking a risk and starting their own ecommerce business.

While creating an online business may seem like the perfect way to grow your income and have the lifestyle and freedom you desire, it is far from easy. In order to be successful in the business world, there are five factors that you need to master.

1. Mentorship

Not only is it important to have access to quality information, but it is also important to have one or more mentors that can provide you with one-on-one guidance and counseling. When starting a business, it is inevitable that you will have many questions. Having the right mentor is going to help guide you in the right direction, and you’ll learn from their mistakes, rather than making your own. There’s nothing more valuable than directly getting help from a successful businessman, somebody whom you would trade places with.

Access to quality one-on-one mentorship where you’re able to ask somebody who’s in the trenches and building brands every day questions is extremely valuable. In order to provide the best services for your clients and build your business, quality mentorship should be an integral part of your program. In this manner, clients can learn all the steps needed to start a successful business, whether it be in ecommerce or a different branch.

2. Persistence 

Ecommerce has grown into a multi-trillion dollar industry and has created the most important technological revolution in business in the 21st century. Millions of people around the world are literally making millions selling products online; however, it’s not for everyone. Building a business is not easy, and you will fall down more than once. Hence, in order to build a successful ecommerce business, you must work harder than everyone else and keep going even when you feel like quitting.

If you want to live a life like nobody else, you must work like nobody else. When you feel like giving up, you should remind yourself of this. Only through persistence will you be able to build a successful business.

3. Mindset

In a similar fashion, a positive mindset is extremely important when it comes to building a business. Many people, even those who are able to succeed, lack this necessary mindset, which means that any short-term gains and successes won’t be sustainable. Without the right mindset, it is impossible to build a business that will thrive in the long term. Mindset is entirely learnable and can be studied and adopted by anybody with the will to succeed.

4. Access to the right information

In today’s day and age, there is an excess of information on the internet. While having access to information is an advantage, a lot of information is not reliable and steers many people the wrong way. Hence, it is important to educate yourself with quality information, such as that provided in a quality course. In order to have a successful business, quality education and information need to be made a priority for each and every one of your clients.

With the way the world is going, there is nothing that competes with buying products online, but a lot of people get excited about the amount of money they could make in the business and get into it without any knowledge or experience. Getting into this business without having the right information and guidance will most likely lead to failure.

5. Faith

Throughout the many ups and downs that come with starting your own business, ultimately your success will finally come down to your level of belief in yourself and your faith. Whether it be in God, in the Universe or whichever higher power you believe in, it is important to have faith in something greater and know that you are not alone.

If you truly center on these factors and focus on growing as a person and entrepreneur, you will stand out from the crowd, and there is no doubt that you will build a successful business.

By Jose Aristimuno, ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR, CEO of VIP MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/380628

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9 Biggest Payroll Challenges In 2021

At GroConsult, payroll management is part of our core operations; we have a comprehensive Payroll Management Service to assist your company in the timely payment of wages and salaries. Our Payroll Management Services has a mechanism and system in place to continuously review and update your payroll database and ensure your company complies with all legal requirements that govern the industries your organization operates to establish the financial stability of your company.

Whether small or large, every business handles payroll in its own way, which governs how it handles all payments owed to employees and contract employees (freelancers).

An organization must ensure that every pay, tax bill, invoices, and data input aligns with the compliance laws. Many complex procedures are involved since the tax laws, and compliance rules keep changing from time to time!😕

This means more difficult payroll processes, more data, and more effort. Fortunately, you can address all of these payroll processing challenges with the help of a payroll software and focus on hiring from a bigger talent pool!😍

Many HR professionals are eager to explore the world for talented recruits, but technicalities sometimes appear to be an impediment that businesses must overcome. The majority of them involve payroll management.

Calculating payroll and distributing salaries may appear to be a simple task; however, it is not. In fact, while running the payrolls, an HR professional faces several difficulties. Recognizing your payroll processing challenges is the first step towards identifying appropriate solutions to overcome them.

It’s important to get your payroll right✅: paying employees incorrectly or untimely can hurt employee morale, and failure to comply with tax or labor laws can result in severe penalties.

Steps Involved In Payroll Management Process

Payroll management determines employee pay, deductions, tax computations, bonuses, and compliance, among other things.

The following are the primary steps in payroll processing:

  • The first step is to establish a payroll policy. Fix your payroll processing norms, including guidelines for leave, attendance, and compensation.
  • The second step involves keeping an eye on the various departments’ contributions. For example, attendance records, tax requirements, leave records, and so forth.
  • Once you’ve gathered the data for payroll processing, you’ll need to check it for accuracy and legitimacy. For instance, knowing the exact amount of unpaid leaves taken by an employee.
  • After you’ve gathered this information, you’ll need to run payroll calculations, including deductions and taxes.
  • Payroll management calculations are accompanied by ensuring statutory compliance, such as TDS, EPF, etc.
  • After completing the payroll, you’ll need to enter everything into your accounting software for precise accounting and administration.
  • The second and final stage is to distribute payments to employees and provide them with pay slips. This phase entails keeping track of employee account information.
  • Finally, keep track of inaccuracies and other errors to improve your payroll structure in the future.

We can’t deny that the payroll management process is time-consuming and inconvenient.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest challenges of payroll processing.👀

Challenges Of Payroll Processing

In this blog, we’ll discuss the 9 biggest payroll challenges and ways you can adopt to eliminate them.

➡️ Statutory Compliance & Legislation Issues

Running a company isn’t a cakewalk.❌ Staying compliant is one of the biggest challenges of payroll processing. Labor laws, state regulations, and statutory compliances are only a few of the legislation and rules that exist. Following these laws is not an option; it is necessary!✅

On the other hand, making compliance mistakes isn’t necessarily a decision; many people simply don’t understand intricate regulations. Plus, they get revised from time to time!

This can result in significant fines and penalties for your company. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like something you want!☹️

Furthermore, most businesses rely on conducting payroll manually or entrusting the task to their HR staff. You must realize that no matter how much time you devote to learning the compliance regulations, they will change, and you will be back to square one.

This might pose a challenge that will end up causing major distractions in the process of payroll generation.

➡️ Evolution Of Technology

The blind trust in the technology can end up being one of the biggest global payroll challenges we face in 2021. Chances are that the blind faith in these can turn out to be faulty in the long course of time.

This is where we pan out to be wrong and not on the correct path. Technology does make the process of payroll generation easy and a lot streamlined doesn’t mean it is going to be accurate every single time. ❌

Good and effective payroll software do have the capability to alleviate the issues many face with their payroll management process but it is important to be very aware of which technology to opt for and which ones to trust. Every single prospect of the payroll service provider should be very well verified to avoid any kind of further risks.

➡️ Need For Higher Flexibility

Payroll management is not restricted to merely paying off your workforce.

COVID-19 has caused significant changes for several businesses, necessitating increased flexibility. For instance, a company may have reduced or modified its work shifts, necessitating frequent and major changes to employees’ schedules, influencing leave, payroll, and other operations to coordinate and compute overtime and other payouts.

Businesses are evolving daily and are reinventing entire product lines due to changing market demands. This involves dealing with a lot of important tasks leaving almost no time to get caught up in payroll related challenges.

Many businesses have also been forced to deal with remote work, which necessitates coordinating schedules and remote payroll management across multiple locations.

There are no easy ways to avoid these payroll and compliance challenges using the manual payroll process. However, using an automated payroll management system can help you overcome these difficulties easily!😍

➡️ Shortage Of Payroll Professionals

Payroll industry has recently experienced a booming increase in their demand and popularity. The last few years are what has boosted the overall growth of this industry. This is the reason why the demand and the supply are posing a problem altogether.

The year of 2021, in terms of payroll challenges, might experience a shortage in the number of talented professionals in this field. Finding well-equipped and well trained and experienced payroll professionals is turning out to be a problem in the coming year or so. But, the same can also be mitigated effectively owing to the kind of growth it is gaining over the years.

➡️ Challenges In Attendance & Leave Management

Employee attendance is frequently tracked and time-stamped by card swipe, finger-print punches in/out, or simply by ‘signing in’ one’s name on a worksheet with manual payroll processing. To calculate the pay and other incentives, that ‘data’ must be carefully duplicated, imported or exported, and passed around teams before making it authorized.

Managerial permissions and modifications are sometimes required. Because of the mountain of paperwork and individuals involved, this simple daily operation takes a lot of time and effort, so errors and inconsistencies are common.

➡️ Challenges In Handling Remote Work

With so many employees working remotely from home or even overseas during COVID-19, traditional HR and payroll administration is nearly impossible.☹️

Card readers and sign-in forms are ineffective for attendance management. Hard copy management of leave and compensation is no longer possible. Email processing can be chaotic due to the numerous submissions, manager approvals, verifications, and coordination necessary.

Furthermore, with the pandemic looming, the typical onboarding and offboarding process, which involves many documentation and face-to-face meetings, is no longer feasible.❌

In such circumstances, a system that can automate remote attendance, leave requests, performance management, training, and other HR and payroll operations is more important than ever.😇

➡️ Consistent Automation

Automation is taking the world by a whirlwind. While the same might be an amazing addition to the overall prospects of the growth and development, the same is also believed to become a potent challenge for the overall global payroll system in the year of 2021. Automation might enhance the payroll management process so much that it could become a lot harder to cope up with the pace of it with manual inputs.

The capabilities and workforce implemented by the automation are also going to undergo a rapid change and evolution which might further end up contributing to the overall payroll system even further. It is a wrong notion that the inclusion of automation is going to end up making manual labor redundant.

That is not going to be the case. Rather, the same is believed to impact the overall growth in the end but the initial impacts might impose a bit of challenge for the people working in the payroll industry.

➡️ Threat To Data Security

With the ever-growing realms of technology, the amount of threat and risks are on the rise as well. It is not surprising that more and more people are finding it hard to keep their data and information encrypted and safe. The same does go out to the payroll industry as well. The kind of threats to the stored information is not necessarily new.

More and more reports of cyber crimes and cyber breaches are on the rise and the same might inflict impacts on the overall prospects of the payroll industry as well.

The payroll industry and the data associated with it might be on the risks and that is expected to stand out as one of the possible challenges in the year 2021. That being said, the security is also strengthened and that itself could pan out to be quite beneficial on the whole as well.🚀

➡️ Inconsistency In Policies

Company processes and policies can be subjected to change a number of times. That being said, that can actually pan out to be one of the most common challenges faced by the payroll industry.

Given the fact that this relies on the right in the moment and current and updated information to be relayed to the employees, it is not surprising that the same might end up being a challenge in the coming few months.

Companies and organizations are constantly changing their processes and policies and while that might be a good thing for the company, the consistent changes pan out to be a trouble for the professionals under the payroll industry.

If you are someone willing under this similar situation, be assured to stay in consistent sync with the companies you are working along with. This will help in keeping track of the changes and making the necessary changes accordingly.

Challenges In Payroll Computation

Some small and medium-sized businesses continue to use excel sheets to manage all payroll-related data, resulting in several issues:👇

  • Incorrect payments are the result of data entry errors and rule misapplication.
  • Data is dispersed in such a way that HR and tax audits are difficult to manage.
  • Payroll records are difficult to handle, and accessing them can be problematic.
  • The information being filed is difficult to comprehend for the managers who approve it.
  • Compiling statistics and preparing reports for high management as a reference has proven difficult.

Even businesses that use payroll management software may be utilizing outdated versions that are unproductive due to a lack of features critical to increasing efficiency. ❌ Some of the drawbacks of older software applications are as follows:👇

  • Not tailored to the company’s operations, rules, and requirements
  • Other HR information and tools, such as attendance, leave, claims, employee benefits, and so on, are not interconnected.
  • Does not automatically adapt to the frequency of statutory updates.

Overcoming The Payroll Challenges 2021

The Payroll industry is a very dynamic industry with consistent updates and changes. While payroll is currently gaining popularity, it goes without saying that the obstacles and challenges that the coming months bring along are quite extensive.

Payroll processing is not a simple task, which can be handled manually by one person without hassles. There are a series of challenges that impact your accuracy and compliance structure. As a result, non-compliance penalties are levied.

Want to effortlessly eliminate all of these challenges? 😉

You can easily minimize these challenges by using good payroll management software which can easily handle the constantly evolving intricacies of payroll.✅

So is there a payroll software that can cater to all your payroll needs and is affordable? Luckily for you, there is. 😍 Request a demo today!

By

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/weekly-wellness-compliance-training-2021-07-24?open-article-id=19842284&article-title=9-biggest-payroll-challenges-in-2021&blog-domain=zimyo.com&blog-title=zimyo-insights-on-hr-trends-and-technology.

 

 

 

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4 Social Media Marketing Trends to Implement in Your 2021 Strategy

With the rise of social media comes the increase in marketing being leveraged across these platforms. Each day, more businesses are realizing the infinite potential that social media marketing has. Even brick-and-mortar businesses that have existed in the same capacity for decades are now jumping on the social media bandwagon — and rightly so.

Never has it been easier to identify, find and sell to our target audiences through social media. With infinite resources at our fingertips, we have the ability to instantly chat to just about anyone we like (whether or not they respond is an entirely different story).

Now, at least a whopping 91% of businesses are marketing on social media. With that being said, the social media landscape is evolving faster than ever, and in order to keep up to date, we must be aware of the latest trends. Here are 4 social media marketing trends to incorporate in 2021.

Stories over feed posts

In a recent move, LinkedIn jumped on the story bandwagon. Why? Because more and more people are opting to view stories rather than scroll the newsfeed. Stories are more exciting, in part because they are only up temporarily, and in part because they give more of a glimpse into people’s everyday lives.

The element of scarcity, combined with humans being natural stickybeaks, gives stories the ultimate power to form a more personal bond. Have you ever followed a particular entrepreneur or influencer on social media for a prolonged period and then seen them in real life? To me, it felt like I actually already knew them. Opting towards spending more time and energy towards stories is a great way to build unbreakable bonds with your audience.

Short-form storytelling

Artificial intelligence (AI) ad-tracking

We all know that technology is evolving at an astounding rate. What was cream-of-the-crop a couple of years ago is now old news. With the vast majority of businesses spending money on ads, a lot of time and energy has been poured into their optimization to ensure you can outperform your competitors, without making a battle of who has the biggest ad-spend budget. This where AI-tracking shines.

With the ability to read data thousands of times faster than humans, AI-tracking can take your ad optimization to a whole new level. According to Australian digital marketing agency Yakk Digital, clients return-on-ad-spend has increased by a whopping 25 percent since implementing AI-tracking for their ads. By optimizing your ads using AI, you’ll significantly reduce your cost per lead and ultimately, make more money.

Connection and community

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we humans crave connection more than we ever thought. Staying connected with our community is essential, and most great brands and marketers know the best way to build a brand is to create a community behind it.

Human beings crave significance, and that significance often comes from being a part of online communities. This can come in the form of joining the livestream of someone they admire or being in a Facebook group of like-minded individuals, but connection and community go hand-in-hand, so keep that at the forefront of your mind and marketing strategy.

Social media has certainly passed the test of time and is here to stay. In order to leverage it to your greatest ability, keep up with all the latest trends, incorporate them in your strategy and most importantly, be consistent.

By  Lewis Schenk,  ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR,                                                        Director of Boost Media Agency

Source: www.entrepreneur.com/article/370892

 

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4 Ways to Modernize Your Business

In the digital age, operating a successful business increasingly requires a touch of modernity. The traditional business tactics and operational standards of the 20th century are rapidly being overshadowed by new technology and new methods of communications. In order to keep your business on top of its game, and keep up with the times, here are some essential goals for upgrading your business in the modern age.

  1. Cloud-Based Solutions

Everything business-related is transitioning to cloud computing. Whether you are operating multiple business locations or just working from home, keeping all of your business-related computing relegated to online servers gives you a leg up in both security and convenience. Working explicitly from local files makes your work far less portable, increasing the difficulty of long-distance collaboration and restricting your access to business-related data while on the road. Turning to cloud-based solutions provides you the ability to connect your business materials and all of your business associates at the push of a button. Plus, aside from the convenience of access, cloud services are increasingly incorporating built-in analytics services and machine learning capabilities to open the door to more capabilities for business owners to enhance and expand upon their current marketing strategies.

  1. Software Automation

In line with the ever-evolving capabilities of most modern cloud-based services, you should take advantage of MLOps strategies for implementing AI-based software automation to improve your overall productivity. Invest in programs that streamline your day-to-day tasks like automated scheduling assistants, time management analytics tools, and data management programs to track expenses, organize accounts payable, and automate invoicing.

The human element is essential to creativity and ingenuity; however, automation allows you to delegate repetitive data-oriented tasks to programs that can manage them with far more efficiency. This boosts your business’s overall flexibility by giving you and your employees more freedom to tackle any tasks that require a direct, human touch, like customer relations and marketing content.

  1. Messaging Apps and Social Media

Once upon a time, the postal service was the go-to means of communicating important information between multiple parties; then, email took its place as the king of communication. Now, social media and interoffice messaging systems give you the best advantage in establishing reliable lines of communication both within and without your business. Whether you need to notify your staff with important information, contact specific employees directly, or interact with the general public, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as messaging apps like Slack and Discord simplify and streamline communication. Where letters and emails created downtime and posed the risk of “lost” messages, these modern communications platforms reduce clutter and ensure instantaneous, direct interaction, improving both interoffice and remote interactions.

  1. Digital Marketing

Print marketing is rapidly becoming an outdated method of sharing product information with potential clients. In the digital age, your best option for marketing your goods and services is digital content. With online marketing tools, you are no longer limited to a specific quantity of marketing materials, so you can reach out to an unlimited number of existing and potential clients with the push of a button. Amidst digital graphics, video content, blogs, and direct contact via social media, the digital age offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities. More important, perhaps, than the specific digital “medium” used, is to take advantage of real-time marketing strategies. Marketers can now interact with customers immediately, rather than waiting for weeks or even months to compile useful feedback. Social media, for example, allows you to gather real-time data from customers to quickly make adjustments that will improve their experience on the go.

While the core principles of operating a successful business never change, the tools available do. Whenever you are modernizing your business, just keep in mind that as technology evolves so too should your business strategies to take full advantage of the tools currently available. Keep testing the waters with new techniques and technologies, and learn to incorporate the parts that are successful.

 

BY CHANTAL BECHERVAISE

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/daily-psychological-contract-diversity-2021-07-01/?open-article-id=16442745&article-title=4-ways-to-modernize-your-business&blog-domain=takeitpersonelly.com&blog-title=take-it-personel-ly

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What Drives Growth in Midsize Firms?

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Summary.

How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? In the authors’ research, they found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers of midsize companies tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities) — and that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. Their findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives.

 

Much attention is paid to either the startup or stardom — the most exciting business idea (that has yet to make a profit) or the star that began in a garage and is now a worldwide powerhouse, trading actively for billions. But what do we know about the transition of growth between those two extremes? How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? We sought to find out.

Over the course of our respective careers, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many different midsize firms, helping them enhance capabilities, expand operations, and enable exports. We’ve found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities)We’ve also noticed that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. We made those variables the focus of our research.

In our study, we asked CEOs of established midsize manufacturing firms to describe the key variables that contributed to their companies’ growth over a period of five to 10 years and the processes they followed to achieve it. Their descriptions encompassed both personal connections and their companies’ capabilities. They identified personal rapport with executives at customer and partner firms, as well as their firms’ specialized expertise and ability to operate efficiently and/or adapt, as drivers of their growth. Then, it got interesting: We found distinctive patterns of connections and capabilities based on each firms’ revenue stage.

Midsize firms are commonly funded by commercial banks, so we grouped them into categories consistent with commercial lending underwriting practices to see what differences would emerge among the groups. The largest U.S. commercial banks categorize their industrial clients according to total revenues as follows:

  • Business banking: $2 million–$20 million
  • Mid-market: $20 million–$50 million
  • Upper mid-market: $50 million–$250 million

Of course, not all of the midsize firms we studied were growing. In fact, some were stagnating or experiencing slow growth. So, we explored the differences between slow and fast-growing firms to learn what causes the difference. We found that the key drivers for growth within a revenue category differ from the drivers to jump from one revenue category to the next. Our findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives. First, let’s explore the interaction of connections and capabilities as a growth mechanism within each growth-stage category.

How midsize firms grow

CEOs of successful midsize firms described themselves as their companies’ primary contact, with direct hands-on influence over its connections and capabilities. Their companies achieved growth through investments in relationships and proving to be reliable over long periods of time. They offered advantages over their immediate competitors through speed in their core competencies (i.e., what the company does, and what it does well). As a value-add, these firms developed specific complements to their core competencies based on their key clients’ needs — for example, adding intermediate warehousing to complement local logistics. From the hours of interviews we conducted, it’s clear that these CEOs parlayed their connections to bring in contracts and used their companies’ competencies to deliver superior value.

How midsize firms change to continue their growth

Our previous experience in the field had shown us that midsize firms don’t follow the same playbook all time; the strategy that’s effective when a firm is smaller won’t work when its revenues grow multifold. We can all name some firms that continue to grow and others that stagnate or slow down. We wanted to know why.

Although the CEOs mentioned that they relied on their connections and capabilities to achieve growth for their firms, the relative emphasis on the underlying components of those connections and capabilities shifted as the revenues grew. When the firms were smaller ($2m to $20m revenue), the CEOs described their connections as singular and focused on their primary customers and their capabilities as aligned to solve the customers’ problems. But as they grew and added more customers, the emphasis shifted. For firms in the next tier ($20m to $50m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as “well-oiled machines,” driven by proven relationships with key clients and winning formulas based on reputation, trust, and niche. These firms’ core competencies included flexibility and quickness in production processes, as well as distinct capabilities compared to rivals as a growth mechanism.

As the firms entered the next tier ($50m to $250m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as strong and dominant alliances and affiliations with key customers, suppliers, and partners. The firms offered integrated solutions, continuous innovation, and cutting-edge offerings. Growth was achieved through aggressive broadening of applications, progressive learning, and new market creation. Overall, firms within our study built distinctive profiles of connections and capabilities for growth and stability within their revenue category.

Even as the midsize firms grew and achieved stability within their communities (and perhaps more importantly in the eyes of their funding source, the commercial banks), some firms, even those that had reached the pinnacle within their revenue tier, were unable or unwilling to jump to the next tier. This issue represented the final focus of our research.

How midsize firms transition from one stage to the next

As you recall, we purposefully asked our CEOs to describe their connections and capabilities and how they changed over a five-to-10-year period. As a result, we were able to capture changes in the firms’ connection and capability profiles as they transcended growth between stages (or revenue tiers).

The excerpt below is from the CEO of a small pump manufacturer that successfully managed growth past the $20 million mark. The CEO describes incremental improvement in processes as a mechanism to facilitate and manage growth through its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) client:

From five years ago to now, there’s been a continuous investment in technology. We’ve made great advances in our building to design stuff more quickly, our analysis tools are way better, a lot of fluid dynamics software we’ve just continuously upgraded…that along with the IT.

And then the other thing is basically our manufacturing system, the lean principles that we’ve applied…you know, minimum part travel, the part goes into a cell and [comes] out of a cell complete, and it’s simplifying the manufacturing process, and then basically driving your production cycle down to two-day intervals…has sucked out so much lead time. So the lead time and the productivity, those two things together.

Notice the emphasis on continuous refinement of what’s working, application of lean principles, and process simplifications to hone the firm’s capabilities as a way to achieve growth. This CEO further describes his firm’s connections with key clients:

[I]n OEM environments, there’s a trust thing built there. It’s getting that perfect balance to value and then consistently performing. So you build that trust [to] where the guy goes, “They give me the value and they’re never going to screw me”…and so you’ll keep those guys. …[Our company], we’re kind of unique in the world; we’re known for honest, straightforward, our word is our bond. As we build that relationship more and more and more, they become less and less concerned that we’re going to steal stuff. And then that releases energy that would not become realized.

Trust and reputation are built intentionally over time to gain exposure to other potential clients. Performing successfully with current clients, garnering reputation for integrity, and creating value is how the firm grew past the early client list and thus zoomed past the $20 million revenue mark.

Although the formula of refinement and improvement in capabilities and wider penetration into potential customer bases can result in success in the early stages of growth, the formula wears out. To transition into the next stage ($50m–$250m revenue), we found that firms leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while strategically partnering to enter new markets.  Essentially, those firms that transition to the higher tier redefine their internal dialogue. The scripted growth story that once enabled the firm now constrains it. The CEO of a robotics-integrator firm explained this process:

I can talk for a long time about characterizing [our company] when I say a systems integrator.  Historically, that has been about welding, metal joining and cutting…and we recently diversified from metal joining and cutting to other, more elaborate processes…which has kind of brought us some growth and maybe a new generation of life.

The strategy for growth was really two facets, one was to expand the processes that we offer…so we did a technology expansion, and at the same time, concurrently, we did a global expansion. So we moved into [foreign country] with a joint venture, and we’ve also moved into [another foreign country] with a small start-up. So we put together a 5-year plan, and it included specific growth targets.

The firm recognized the need for transition and the limitations of prior scripts, then sketched out expansion pathways to grow into the highest growth stage we studied. The CEO of an industrial seat manufacturer that moved into that same growth stage viewed his firm’s connections as a joint commitment to investment with the client, including a willingness to deploy resources on their collective behalf. High levels of collaboration with a client helps remove investment risk for the midsize firms in new applications, and mutual commitment serves as a sturdy ladder for growth.

The smaller firms we studied grew by managing their connections and capabilities through building firm bonds with early clients and serving them reliably. They then transitioned from a few focal clients to a larger base by increasing their efficiency and core competencies and winning new clients through their reputations for integrity and value creation. The changed emphasis helped them grow to a point, but to transition into the next stage, organizations leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while fostering relationships toward joint investment and new market creation. In this final stage we studied, growth was achieved through strong alliances, integrated solutions, and cutting-edge offerings.

We offer our model in a summarized table below.

Lacking established brand equity, midsize enterprises often rely on close relationships and unique and sharply defined capabilities to earn business. In early stages, they could earn business by building close bonds with key clients and aligning the firm’s capabilities to deliver unique value. As they achieve initial growth, their managers could apply the firms’ core capabilities to new industries to deliver uncommon value.

Smart young firms know that before there’s a product, there are capabilities. Rather than producing a routine product, young midsize firms might draw on their proprietary capabilities to initially build distinctive solutions for a very small number of clients. To grow, managers should emphasize persistent refinement of the solutions to deepen distinctiveness and then widely peddle the solutions to other clients.

Growth plateaus are common, even for healthy and strong midsize enterprises, and they occur when firms seem to have exploited all available opportunities in current industries. To grow, managers should encourage their firms to find ways to transfer their capabilities to new industries. We have to warn, however, that this would require reconfiguring the incentives, reporting lines, management structure, and processes to encourage and support new applications and new markets.

 

By Gary Wolbers and Arun Pillutla

Source: https://hbr.org/2021/06/what-drives-growth-in-midsize-firms

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Training and Onboarding for the New Remote Work Landscape

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has officially become the new normal. More and more people are working from home, making virtual training and onboarding a growing priority for human resource professionals.

Prior to COVID, HR mainly utilized in-person methods to guide new employees through orientation, company goal sets and team expectations. However, Forbes reported that up to 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard after the pandemic. Employees hope to keep the flexibility of remote and hybrid work, so it’s important that employers learn how to meet the digital expectations of the future work landscape.

In fact, as most organizations transitioned to remote work this past year, employees also reported considering or planning a move farther away from their current jobs, according to a separate Forbes article. Employees who were laid off were more likely to report planning a move, as well, which would influence how they applied to future job opportunities.

Returning to fully onsite work will prove difficult for most new employees, so HR must build creative and efficient ways to replicate the training and onboarding process for the remote work landscape. Here are some best practices your company can follow to improve your new employee’s virtual experience:

Provide timely technology and support

To ensure that new hires start off with their best foot forward, organizations must consider what technological requirements need to be addressed for each position. If the employee needs a corporate laptop or cellphone to do their job, reach out and schedule shipping so that they arrive before the employee’s start date.

Once your employee has the proper technology to start their role, HR should coordinate with IT to verify that setup and configuring the new tech is digitally streamlined. Check in with your IT department beforehand to guarantee they don’t become overwhelmed as remote work continues. Ask how the company can automate additional processes to ease the extra workload. Some examples of computer setup automation are interactive platforms that guide new users through setup or step-by-step instructions (written or video) that can be generally distributed online.

Clear communication between HR, new hires and IT is essential to digital onboarding. Don’t be afraid to ask new hires what tools they require to be successful in their new positions and how previously in-person IT tasks can be digitally streamlined. New employees will still need personalized assistance, but automating certain steps in the process is a necessary first step for remote onboarding.

Replicate the remote training process virtually

A great way to build your new HR guidelines for remote work is to use the foundation of previously tried and true methods. If you have set practices for training new hires onsite, go through them and determine how your company can transition each of these steps to online.

Schedule the first day of virtual orientation as similarly to pre-pandemic guidelines as possible, advised the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This means creating a full-day, interactive schedule for new hires that include team and colleague introductions via video conferencing. By now, employees have become all-too-familiar with the importance of video meetings, so just be sure to include what platform expectations (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) are during onboarding.

Once the first day is scheduled, consider how best to guide new hires through their first week, as well. For example, are there any larger company meetings that could demonstrate how your employer operates overall? New questions may arise as employees find their footing in the new digital landscape, so advise managers to schedule daily and/or weekly check-ins in advance. This way remote workers can be certain that they have opportunities to touch base with you.

As your digital onboarding and training schedule is determined, don’t forget to include breaks for your new hires. Employees should feel guided throughout their first day and week at your company, but it’s also important to give them time to go over new materials and properly retain each piece of new information.

Digitize important onboarding materials

Manual paperwork is a time-consuming and stressful part of human resource management. However, a newfound benefit to remote work during the pandemic has been the implementation of virtual onboarding and training materials that can be accessed at any time by new hires and managers from home alike.

By transitioning document signing, company policies, rule books and training materials to digital copies, employers can streamline the onboarding process for both HR and new hires. For example, sharing and filing tax documents, contracts and payroll information can be as easy as sending a link or signing into your company’s preferred platform. Within your company’s online platform or website, HR should also include an FAQ page for more information and a contact page for additional questions.

This cuts back on labor costs as HR and new hires can spend more time engaging with each other and their teams. For some roles, you can also implement onboarding tools that include training videos and/or learning modules that cover specific role needs.

Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to onboard and train new hires in the virtual workplace is a high priority for all companies moving forward. HR teams that successfully transition to online onboarding and training will be able to not only improve efficiency, but also overall job satisfaction and employee engagement.

According to SHRM, overall HR recruiting budgets have decreased this past year due to the pandemic. Employee retention is crucial for companies to be successful in the current remote work landscape. By investing in new hire digital onboarding and training, your team will vastly improve the remote experience for all of your employees — not just new hires.

The best course of action for HR professionals is to mirror the in-person onboarding experience for remote workers as best as possible. The more interactive the schedule is for your employees, the more likely they will have a positive and lasting experience with your company.

 

By PeopleStrategy Staff

Source: https://www.peoplestrategy.com/training-onboarding-new-remote-work/

 

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Why Investing in Your Employees Can Benefit Your Company

Your employees are your business, it is that simple. The people you bring on, train and put into strategic positions throughout the organization are what will make or break your success. From the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, your human capital is your most important capital. This is why it makes so much sense to invest in these people. From sending employees on a leadership career track to business school to simple online seminars or cross-training opportunities, professional development takes many forms. If you are considering an MBA for an employee, keep in mind that there are MBA admissions consultants out there to help you make the right choice.

Employers must start to think of human capital development in terms of ROI. With that in mind, below are some of the ways investing in employees can benefit your company.

Employee Engagement

A Gallup poll from 2018 indicated that only 34 percent of employees in the United States felt engaged at work, which was broadly reflective of a worldwide crisis of engagement. There are a variety of reasons for this lack of engagement, including feelings of burnout from job creep, organizations failing to align philosophically with employees, apathy that comes from a lack of job security but also, importantly, a lack of investment in human capital on the part of employers.

Too often employers see the labour force as mere tools and means to ends, rather than strategic assets to be developed. When employees feel that their professional development and career health is taken seriously by their employers, engagement will increase in turn. Engagement corresponds to more job satisfaction, bigger and better brand advocates for the business, better collaboration and better employee retention.

Attract New Talent

Another reason it pays dividends for an organization to invest in its current workforce is that doing so has future benefits for recruitment and talent acquisition. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of people are willing to trade less money for more meaningful work, which translates into a lot of different things, but among them is work that allows them to develop and utilize their skills and core competencies.

The implications for talent acquisition are easy to see and potentially enormous. If a business is able to establish a reputation as a place that nurtures talent, invests in its people’s professional development and provides opportunities to constantly grow and improve skill sets, it will be a much more attractive place to work for talented, ambitious people looking for a challenge and interested in lifelong learning.

Future-Proof

Investing in people should also be seen as a necessary part of future-proofing the organization. The rate of economic change that is taking place and will continue to do so obligates leadership to take a future-proofing approach to business. The pandemic proved that entire business models could dry up overnight and that the resulting skills gaps could potentially cripple an organization or industry. Your people are your best chance against being blindsided by the future.

Investing in employees can provide the organization with valuable skills–particularly digital ones–to ensure a more seamless transition to a much more digital business environment. It can also ensure that the mission-critical skill sets required for business success are always in supply. Having employees who are able to cover for one another, pick up the slack for absent coworkers and take on new responsibilities when necessary make the organization much more agile.

Productivity

Investing in employees also has implications for productivity. Employees who are confident that their employer has their professional best interests at heart and are committed to providing them with opportunities to improve and increase their skills are more likely to want to do their best for the company. The management and organizational behavioural literature over the last year have been almost singularly obsessed with the phenomenon of decreasing productivity, what to do about it and when, if ever, it will be back.

Of the many things that we know about productivity and the influences on it, employees who believe they are supported in their professional development by their employers are more likely to want to exert themselves on behalf of the company and to make the best use of their working hours. The quality of the employee-employer relationship is dictated by many things, but among them is certainly the extent to which the former believes the latter is concerned about their careers and professional development.

Conclusion

The problem with many organizations is that labour expenses are seen as something to be kept as low as possible at all costs. Professional development and enriching the organization’s human capital takes a back seat with such a philosophy. What these businesses don’t realize is that they are shooting themselves in the foot in the medium to long-term. Investments in employees, and particularly promising people with a demonstrated desire to learn, improve and add value, are investments in the business.

Image by Ronald Carreño from Pixabay

By Editor’s choice|Employee recognition

 

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=16422120&article-title=why-investing-in-your-employees-can-benefit-your-company-&blog-domain=gethppy.com&blog-title=get-hppy

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What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

As companies scramble to protect employees from the spreading coronavirus with travel restrictions and remote work arrangements, there’s a distinct possibility that in-person meetings with teams, customers, or suppliers may be canceled for days — or potentially weeks.

Under the best of circumstances, as soon as one or two attendees “dial in” to any meeting, productivity starts to suffer.  There’s a long list of reasons. Attendees often interpret virtual meetings as a license to multi-task. Meeting organizers tend to be less careful with the purpose and design of the conversation. And it’s not uncommon for one or two attendees to dominate the discussion while others sit back and “tune out.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Virtual meetings — even impromptu ones sparked by fears of a contagion — can be run more effectively, using basic meeting best practices and easy-to-use, inexpensive technology.

Here are 12 steps you can take to make that happen:

  1. Use video. To make people feel like they’re all at the “same” meeting, use video conferencing rather than traditional conference dial-ins. Technology — such as Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting — helps to personalize the conversation and to keep participants engaged.
  2. That said, always provide an audio dial-in option. Video conferencing can work very well, but it relies on a strong internet connection that may not always be available. People need the ability to participate via audio, but make it clear that video-first is the new norm.
  3. Test the technology ahead of time. Nothing kills momentum at the start of a meeting like a 15-minute delay because people need to download software, can’t get the video to work, etc. Prior to a virtual meeting, all participants should test the technology and make sure they are comfortable with the major features. And remember, supplier or customer conversations may require your team to familiarize themselves with different software packages.
  4. Make sure faces are visible. Video conferences are more effective when people can see each other’s facial expressions and body language. Ask individuals to sit close to their webcam to help to recreate the intimacy of an in-person meeting.
  5. Stick to meeting basics. Prior to the conversation, set clear objectives, and send a pre-read if appropriate. During the session, use an agenda, set meeting ground rules, take breaks, and clearly outline next steps (including timing and accountabilities) after each section and at the end of the meeting.
  6. Minimize presentation length. The only thing worse than a long presentation in person is a long presentation during a virtual meeting. Meetings should be discussions. Background information should be provided beforehand. If someone needs to present, use screen sharing to guide the conversation, so attendees can literally “be on the same page.” But prioritize conversation to maximize the time people are looking at each other.
  7. Use an icebreaker. Although we’re not big fans of them, it’s important to use every tool to reinforce interpersonal relationships when people may be feeling isolated. Also, it’s important to know if a participant may have a close friend or relative fighting the virus, so some type of “check in” is in order.
  8. Assign a facilitator. It’s usually harder to manage a virtual discussion than an in-person one. It can be helpful to assign one individual to guide the conversation, allowing the other participants to focus on the content. The facilitator can also use a polling system to “take the pulse” of the group on certain questions and ensure that all voices are heard. The facilitator should also be able to resolve basic questions on the technology being used.
  9. Call on people. Getting everyone to participate without talking over each other is one of the more challenging aspects of running a virtual meeting. To forestall this, we recommend periodically calling on individuals to speak, even by virtually “going around the table” before a decision is finalized. Some software packages even allow attendees to “raise a hand” if they want to. This can help the facilitator drive closure without the risk of excluding an introverted participant’s views.
  10. Capture real-time feedback. Gathering and processing high-quality input during a virtual meeting can be challenging, especially since visual cues are harder to read. Use a phone-based survey tool like Poll Everywhere to collect on-demand feedback from attendees on specific topics in real time. Keep the polling open, separate from the videoconference to avoid disrupting the conversation. Participants will need clear instructions on how to use the system and practices, but groups get the hang of it very quickly and it’s well worth the effort.
  11. Don’t be afraid to tackle tough issues. Meeting virtually is a learned behavior, and you’ll be amazed how much you can get out of it once you and your team begin to be comfortable working this way. It may seem natural to wait to discuss tough issues until everyone is in person, but that may not be an option. So don’t shy away from controversial topics.
  12. Practice once or twice while you’re still together. Hold your next staff meeting virtually, with each executive sitting in their office and hooking into the meeting with no assistance. After the meeting concludes, gather and debrief about the experience. What went well, and what didn’t? How can you evolve your virtual meetings to make them as productive as when you meet in person?

Not being able to work together in the same room with colleagues may become a major challenge in the next few weeks. To make virtual meetings work, you might need to adjust how your team conducts them.  But a small investment in preparedness now could have a huge impact if that time comes.

By Bob Frisch and Cary Greene, March 05, 2020

Source: https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-it-takes-to-run-a-great-virtual meeting?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=twitter&tpcc=orgsocial_edit

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5 Small Habits All Leaders Should Do to Grow Their Business

Growing a business takes continual commitment.
Tiffany Pham
ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR
CEO of Mogul
March 8, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While working in the media industry, I taught myself how to code to build a platform that connects women and minorities to professional opportunities. I worked at my day job and then coded at night — night after night, week after week, month after month. The commitment to my purpose became a habit, which then provided the momentum to scale my company, Mogul, to what it is today.

I believe that what makes certain businesses struggle and others thrive is the difference between the daily commitments and small habits that leaders create in order to help others move toward their greatest potential. Here are five daily habits that will help your business thrive.

Commit to listening

Listening is a superpower. I can’t stress enough how important it is to develop your active listening abilities, especially when you lead a team of individuals. Everybody on your team is unique, and their communication preferences are as well. Some people like to be cheered on with positive affirmations. Others prefer straight talk and getting right down to the point.

As leaders, part of our job is to listen and learn how our team members communicate, and to adapt our communication style to match theirs (more on communication below). It’s our responsibility to listen, uncover what makes each individual tick and elevate their passion that empowers them to produce inspired work.

Commit to communication

The way we speak to our team matters. Especially because you’re in a position of influence, your words hold more weight than others. Any sign of talking down to a team member can ultimately erode a working relationship — and it can happen fast. When providing feedback, it’s important always to be mindful of your messaging.

My suggestion is to first aim to validate. For example, we once had a situation where our team continued pushing back the delivery date for a project, so I decided to step in and provide support. Instead of just expressing frustration, I made sure to share what I did like and precisely why. I then offered my notes for edits and focused on framing everything in the positive. Our primary goal with the way we communicate is to lift our team, help them grow in their role and support their career advancement.

Commit to learning

Taking time to deepen your expertise should be a mandatory practice. Information is ubiquitous, and it’s never been easier to further our education and develop a deeper understanding of our field. I’m continually reading about current events, industry trends, following other peers and thought-leaders and finding ways to continue uncovering strategies that help me be a better leader.

Like many of us, I wish there were more hours in the day, so I schedule time once or twice a week specifically for learning and upskilling. If something doesn’t get on my calendar it doesn’t exist. I give myself a certain topic to focus on throughout the week, and I dedicate the scheduled time to focused learning.

 

Commit to systems

Now more than ever, speed wins. And the essential way to be more effective with your decision-making ability as a leader is to create flexible systems. The more you tangibly understand the mechanisms that make your business run, the better it allows you to iterate on your systems. From how you hire, share internal communication and deploy external messaging, to how you structure your entire organization, nearly everything within your business should be put to a system and continually optimized.

By having a process in place, you can better track and locate inefficiencies. Systems can empower you to think long-term more effectively because they stack on top of each other, which will then enable you to make more informed decisions. The best leaders I’ve known are the ones who continually commit to creating more efficient systems.

Commit to yourself

You can’t lead a team of people and grow a business if you don’t care for yourself. Forgive me for what may seem like stereotypical advice, but we all need to make sure we’re doing the foundational things well. Find your optimal amount of sleep, eat breakfast in the morning, mind your posture at your desk throughout the day and take breaks for your physical and mental health. As often as I can, I stop scheduling meetings at a certain time of the day to help me end the workday at a reasonable hour and stave off burnout.

The best way I’ve found to keep my mental and physical health at the forefront of my mind is to schedule my day as detailed as possible. I even plan my short breaks to stretch or take a walk. I periodically put 20-minute breaks in my calendar and use them to unplug from work-life and reconnect with real life.

The little commitments matter, and the habits will compound over time. If you want to be an effective leader, it starts with leading yourself. So take care of yourself and live to work another day.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/365862

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Data Is Great — But It’s Not a Replacement for Talking to Customers

kkgas/Stocksy

 

Summary: Many companies rely too much on big data and analytics in their hunt for strategic insights.  They’d do better if they actually went out and talked to their customers instead, as Toyota and Adobe do, because data is too rooted in what managers already think their customers are interested in.

 

 

The ability to gather and process intimate, granular detail on a mass scale promises to uncover unimaginable relationships within a market. But does “detail” actually equate to “insight”?

Many decision-makers clearly believe it does. In Australia, for instance, the big four banks Westpac, National, ANZ, and Commonwealth are spending large on churning through mountains of customer data that relate one set of variables — gender, age, and occupation, for instance — to a range of banking products and services. Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth, has announced its big data push.

Like the big banks, Australia’s two largest supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles, are scouring customer data and applying the massive computer power now available, and needed, with statistical techniques in the search for “insights.” This could involve the combination of web browsing activity, with social media use, with purchasing patterns and so on — complex analysis across diverse platforms.

While applying correlation and regression analysis (among other tools) to truckloads of data has its place, I have a real concern that — once again — CEOs and senior executives will retreat to their suites satisfied that the IT department will now do all the heavy lifting when it comes to listening to the customer.

Data’s Deceptive Appeal

To peek into the deceptive appeal of numbers, let’s review how one business hid behind its data for years.

Keith is the CEO of a wealth management business focused on high-net-worth individuals. It assists them with their investments by providing products, portfolio solutions, financial planning advice, and real estate opportunities.

Like its competitors, Keith’s company employed surveys to gather data on how the business was performing. But Keith and his executive team came to realize that dredging through these details was not producing insights that management might use in strategy development.

So, Keith’s team decided on a different path. One that really did involve listening to the customer. They conducted a series of client interviews structured in a way that allowed the customer to do the talking and the company to do the listening. What Keith and his executives discovered really shocked them.

The first was that their data was based on nonsense. This came about because the questions they’d been asking were built on managers’ perceptions of what clients needed to answer. They weren’t constructed on what clients wanted to express. This resulted in data that didn’t reflect clients’ real requirements. The list of priorities obtained via client interviews compared to management’s assumed client priorities coincided a mere 50 percent of the time.

Keith’s business is not alone in this as studies have shown that big data is often “precisely inaccurate.” A study reported by Deloitte found that “more than two-thirds of survey respondents stated that the third-party data about them was only 0 to 50 percent correct as a whole. One-third of respondents perceived the information to be 0 to 25 percent correct.”

In Keith’s case, this error was compounded when it came to the rating of these requirements. For example, the company believed that older clients wouldn’t rank “technology” (digital and online tools) as high on their list of requirements. However, in the interviews, they discovered that while these older clients weren’t big users of technology themselves, many cared about it a great deal. This was because they had assistants who did use it and because they considered having state-of-the-art technology a prerequisite for an up-to-date business.

What Keith and his team also discovered, to their surprise, was how few interviews it took to gain genuine insight. Keith reports that “we needed around 18 to 20 clients to uncover most of the substantive feedback. We thought we’d need many more.” What Keith has encountered here is saturation; a research term referring to the point when you can stop conducting interviews because you fail to hear anything new.

Listening to the Customer

Engaging with your customers may not be as exciting and new as investing in “big data.” But it does have a solid track record of success. Cast your minds back to a historic time in Toyota’s history.

When Toyota wanted to develop a luxury car for the United States, its team didn’t hunker down in Tokyo to come up with the perfect design. Nor did it sift through data obtained from existing Toyota customers about current Toyota models. Instead, it sent its designers and managers to California to observe and interview the target customer — an American, male, high-income executive — to find out what he wanted in a car. This knowledge, combined with its undoubted engineering excellence, resulted in a completely new direction for Toyota: a luxury export to the United States. You will know it better as the Lexus. Listening to the customer is now embedded in Toyota’s culture.

Listening to the customer is also a fundamental component of Adobe’s culture. The company speaks of a “culture of customer listening” and has produced a useful set of guidelines on how to tune in to customers. Elaine Chao, a Product Manager with the company, has expressed it this way: “Listening is the first step. We try to focus on what customers want to accomplish, not necessarily how they want to accomplish it.”

So, provided your data isn’t “precisely inaccurate” employ modern computer power to examine patterns in your customers’ buying behavior. But understand big data’s limitations. The data is historic and static. It’s historic because it’s about the past. Your customers have most likely moved on from what the data captures. And it’s static because, as with any computer modeling, it can never answer a question that you didn’t think to ask.

Real insights come from seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. You will only ever get that by truly engaging with customers and listening to their stories.

March 05, 2021
Source: https://hbr.org/2021/03/data-is-great-but-its-not-a-replacement-for-talking-to-customers