As we move slowly back towards life as we used to know it, people keep talking about the ‘New Norm’. If you challenge them, they appear to have little or no idea as to what this New Normality will be.
Many believe we will rely much more on the internet to do business and there will be a significant increase in those working from home. Some of those whose businesses have operated primarily online, the digital marketeers, web designers and IT experts, are suggesting they need never go back to an office.
Since ‘lockdown’ we have all had to change our approach. We have had to engage with our customers in different ways. Primarily, but not exclusively this has been via the internet. I believe it is still accepted by most, that face to face and in the same room is the ideal! This allows more of our social instincts to play a part and to enable more of a solid business relationship to develop. It would be very sad if we did not go back to meeting, shaking hands, embracing (when appropriate!) and enjoying each other’s physical company.
What other positivity can we take from the present difficult situation:
The air is cleaner!
More people now know more about the internet and its possibilities for communication and promotion.
In general, people are more aware and considerate of others wellbeing.
Many have observed that the pace of life has slowed, allowing more reflection and consideration.
The situation has encouraged more lateral or ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
As a society we have reset our perspectives and priorities; we have acknowledged what is most important to us.
I could continue with the list, but I think the point is made. After lockdown, it would be a great shame to lose all that we have gained. Clearly, we need to take the best we can from all this and apply them to our New Norm. Ideally, we should maintain good perspective, priorities and wellbeing as we start to meet with others again. At the same time, we should continue to embrace more of the best of the technology.
We need to balance the best of the Old Norm with the best of the lockdown strategies we have developed. Every business has different needs and priorities and so they will have their own version of the New Norm. I urge you all to plan carefully how you address coming out of lockdown and what your New Norm will look like. If you need help with this, I have developed a new module called ‘Your New Norm’, which helps you define what you want to become as a business, you new approach to promotion and engagement that will continue to make you successful as we are ‘unlocked’.
‘It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities’, Dumbledore to Harry; J.K. Rowling
I talk to many companies and entrepreneurs about their business development. Their needs and aspirations are quite varied, but common themes do become apparent.
Most common is the need for more business; to find more customers and win more sales. This is useful as these two aspects happen to be my areas of expertise! However, a common confession from business owners and managers is the difficulty they have in making decisions. Some of these decisions are for strategic issues, such as matching products to markets, or where to obtain funding. Some decisions are less critical, but still important, such as in selecting a supplier, prioritising daily activities or when to follow-up contacts or proposals.
Demands for decisions can be both internal and external. All sorts of issues come into play, from time management, influencing skills, decision momentum and balance, to deciding priorities, urgencies and consequences. No wonder we cannot make up our minds!
“Alice came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.
'Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.
'I don't know,' Alice answered.
'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter.” Lewis Carroll
There are some simple techniques and processes that can be applied to every decision, that should make them easier to make, quicker to resolve and ultimately much less stressful.
These can include:
Knowing yours and your businesses’ true priorities and being true to these
Establishing the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’
Considering different processes and techniques; choosing the best way forward
Developing a personal decision making process that is straightforward and comfortable
Establishing background; involving stakeholders and influencers; managing expectations
The ‘laser approach’, versus ‘sheepdog focus’, or even ‘option adoption’ techniques
Applying time management skills to ensure indecision does not prevent progress
Striking the right balance between the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ approach
Considering Transactional Analysis as a possible option for achieving the best personal outcome
Being prepared to decide not to decide, but fixing and keeping to a new decision deadline
When logic does not suit; using the ‘approach attributed to Einstein’
Some say that there are no such things as ‘wrong decisions’. They argue that whichever route we choose is the correct one, based on what we know and how we feel at the time. This approach has merit as much time, energy and stress is wasted in regretting past decisions. This forward looking approach can make a big difference to your confidence when you are challenged with more decisions to be made.
Decision making is a fascinating art (and science). Being comfortable with the process is important in order to maintain the quality of, and satisfaction in the result.
If you want to consider this further for you and your business, Salient is holding a workshop in February called ‘Decision Making – made easier’. For more details and to book, go to the events page here.
Networking, contacting, following-up and generally communicating with customers and prospects are all important and sometimes essential activities when focussing on business growth. However, at some point, this can degenerate into a more social intercourse focussing more on weather, hobbies, food or gossip than on important aspects of business.
Some social chatter is good for building relationships, but where do you draw the line? How can we work more effectively and more efficiently? Some estimates suggest that more than 20% of the day is spent in non-business activities, and that by far the majority of this non-business is chatter. This can occur in face-to-face meetings (networking or meetings with customers/prospects), on the phone (have you ever timed your calls and worked out the proportion of that time spent on business?) or in emails (less so here, but then again, how succinct are you?)
Here are some Salient questions to see how you fare;
1. In any ‘phone call, what proportion of the time is spent talking about non-business issues?
2. In meeting people for the first time, how soon do you ‘get to the point’?
3. At subsequent meetings is this quicker or slower?!
4. If business is complete, how quickly can you ‘move-on’?
Are you happy with your answers?
THE RULE-OF-THUMB comprises two questions to ask yourself at any such encounter;
Is this meeting/contact going to add value to my business?
Is this helping to grow a good business relationship?
If your answer to the first is ‘yes’, then remain focussed on your objective and make sure you achieve it, or at least move closer to it.
If it is ‘no’, keep it polite, but keep it short!
If your answer to the second is ‘yes’, then try to be succinct and business-like.
If it is ‘no’, then it is probably no more than an opportunity to socialise at best, gossip at worst.
Remember, your time costs money. Some chatter can be helpful, but too much ‘chatter’ can prevent you from finding and taking new business opportunities. If you can reduce this by even 10%, then you are likely to have recouped hours every month! Those hours, used wisely, can mean more sales, more business.