A friend recently opened my world to Seth Godin. His very short daily blogs provide insightful tid-bits and surprisingly seem to be appropriate for that day. I am not sure how he does it, but they ‘speak’ to me.
“A job without a boss
That’s what many freelancers want.
The ability to do your work, but without the hassle of someone telling you what to do.
The thing is, finding a well-paying job without a boss used to be a lot easier than it is now. The race to the bottom is fierce, and the only way to avoid it is to create projects, innovate on strategy and build something worth seeking out.”
So appropriate for my to-do list today.
I want to share insights from an informative 10 hours I attended last week – a Bootcamp.
Now before you go thinking I was covered in mud, face smothered with war paint and dressed in camouflage I will put your mind at ease. It was 10 hours of learning about our digital world and how we can maximise for a small business. A bootcamp about Small Business Digital Transformation.
There were quite a few ah-ha moments that might be helpful to you too.
Ah-ha moment 1 – the next Big Things. Over the course of the sessions we chatted about the next big things on the digital horizon, namely:
- The world’s digital connectivity – Currently only one-third of the world is connected. What will happen to my business when the rest of the world is connected to the internet? Why do we put our own boundaries on our business just because we operate from a small country town? Take a look at Birdsnest – an online fashion business that operates from Cooma, a town similar size to Gunnedah in the Southern Highlands of NSW. It is the town’s biggest employer and is now an international online store because Jane listened to the customer and used the digital world to meet their needs.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality – it is not just for the big companies, change your mindset. How could you disrupt your customers shopping or service experience through innovation in the virtual reality world? Have you thought about it? Could a customer walk through your furniture store or try on your clothing in a virtual setting? mmm, the mind boggles.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with humans. Don’t discount it for your business.
Rather than see doom and gloom, that we cant compete with the internet we need to be thinking “What is the opportunity for me?” How can my business use these to redefine the customer experience and grow?
Ah-ha moment 2 – time and patience. Rome wasnt built in a day. Be ready to fail fast and move on. A great example was Airbnb success story. It was not an overnight success, it took time and belief. You can read more about their story here – including how the founders went from having credit cards maxed out (broke!) to a billion dollar company.
Ah-ha moment 3 – put yourself in your customers shoes. I think we can agree that we can tend to fall into the rut of thinking we know what our customers or potential customers want. Do we ask them? Do we try to understand them or do we use the digital options available to us as a scatter gun and hope to goodness one of them work?
Learn your customer, create key customer personas and target your brand and digital strategy to these. It will save you time, it will save you valued dollars and increase the chances of being successful.
This includes knowing what social media your customers prefer. Again – not what YOU prefer…where are your customers hanging out? If you are posting dozens of images on Facebook yet your persona is on Instagram then you will miss them…learn Instagram and hang out with them!
Have a look at your website. If you were a customer would you enjoy the experience of visiting your website? Ask your customers, check out your google analytics (which are free!) and understand how traffic is finding you, enjoying their visit or leaving.
Fun fact – it takes a split second to establish credibility, trust and interest with customers when they enter your website. What is your first impression?
Ah-ha moment 4 – have plans and review often. I hear you – you are too busy trying to run a small business to plan and strategise.
Make the time.
Build it into your calendar and stick to it. Set Goals as part of business planning, develop a digital strategy – what social media fit to your customer personas, what time are there mostly there, how can I get their attention? Prioritise actions and continually review. Its about your customer, not you.
Plan to make time to innovate. Step away from your daily routine, learn about these next big things and take innovation time out. Innovation comes from our creative side of the brain so do something creative and you might be surprised what pops into your mind. Macramé, painting, drawing, crochet, woodturning, photography…you don’t need to be Da vinci, it’s the practice not the perfection that is important.
Ah-ha moment 5 – Design thinking. This was an amazing process to work through and I highly recommend following up with attending a future bootcamp to learn how you can use design thinking to really understand your customer needs and provide targeted solutions and services.
We learnt about Black Star Pastry and their journey. Black Star Pastry makes that most instagrammed food the Strawberry and Melon Cake. Christopher The is a chef turned business owner.
His advice “You need to change your mindset from being the creator of a product to being a problem-solving business person” resonated with many of us.
Need some more inspiration to believe you can? Check out some of these business stories. You can be the next one…just imagine you can.
Consider how you can adapt some of these into your business. As Seth reminded me this morning –
“Create projects, innovate on strategy and build something worth seeking out.”
What is your next step?
Digital Bootcamp is conducted by Netstripes as part of the Business Connect NSW Government initiative. Check out Netstripes website to learn more about their Digital Accelerator Program.
It also includes free hours with a business advisor to help you work through your main areas of concerns for your business. I highly recommend registering for Business Connect and using the services offered for free.
Thank you also to the Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce for facilitating the Bootcamp for Gunnedah.
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