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Innovate in the Downturn – 7 Things You Must Do

Innovate in the Downturn – 7 Things You Must Do

Grasping the Sun

    Bill Gates recently said, “We are in an economic downturn but an innovation upturn.” Most people are focusing on the downturn and the dangers it poses rather than on the opportunity for innovation. Most businesses are restructuring and streamlining their operations. How can you maximize your chances in the change maelstrom? One way is to take a positive approach to change and to be seen as an innovative go-getter who will help make the re-organization a success. Here’s how:

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    1. Adopt a positive attitude.

    Like Bill Gates — see the opportunity. Don’t be cynical about change. Don’t assume the worst. Don’t believe and repeat rumors about management’s conspiracies to do down the workforce. Change is inevitable for every organization so it is time to start liking it. Change means new opportunities, new responsibilities, and new things to learn and do. People who are positive about new challenges are more likely to be given them. People who are resistant to change and reluctant to adapt are the first to be culled.

    2. Become a change agent.

    Make suggestions. Introduce ideas and recommendations. Look for ways in which your department could bring in new products, business processes or partnerships. Ask yourself — is there a better way to meet the needs of our customers? Anticipate trends and suggest ways of changing the department to exploit new opportunities and new technologies.

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    3. Listen to customers.

    Where can you find the ideas for change? One source is customers. In your dealings with clients you should make a point of asking how your product or service could be improved. What do they like and dislike about your offering? How are their business needs changing? What will they need in the future? Even better than asking them is to study how they use your product or service. What difficulties do they encounter? How could you alleviate the problems and make their life easier? Do they use your product or service in conjunction with others? Could you co-operate with another company or combine your product with others to bring an innovation to market?

    4. Watch the competition.

    Keep an eye on what they are doing and any innovations they introduce. Ask customers what other suppliers are doing that is smart and new. Study their initiatives and see what works. Suggest ways in which you cannot just match the competition but leapfrog them.

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    5. Be sensitive to office politics.

    For most ideas it is best to talk them through with colleagues in your department and in other areas to test their workability before you speak to your manager. That way you have checked out the concept, cleared some obvious objections and gained feedback before you propose it. It will sound better thought out. However, there are some ideas that are so sensitive that it would be silly to bat them around the office before proposing them. You have to choose your moments carefully. Often you can prepare the ground by describing the size of the problem and agreeing how pressing it is before you introduce your idea. Catch the boss when he or she is most receptive. Sometimes it is best to introduce your big idea outside the hurly burly of the office. If you can buttonhole the director in the pub or the car park you may have a better chance of a good hearing.

    6. Don’t insist on the glory.

    If you spark an idea and then other people adapt and improve it then that is fine. By letting go you have a better chance of it being adopted than if you insist on driving every aspect of the initiative because it “was your idea in the first place.” Sometimes the cleverest tactic is to let your boss take it over as his or her idea. People will still know that you were the one who planted the seed.

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    7. Be prepared for rejection.

    Most managers are analytical and critical. They are good at finding fault with other people’s ideas. The more radical your proposal the more likely it is that people will feel uncomfortable with it. Propose it carefully. Lay it out in a logical way and explain the benefits. But if your boss disagrees then don’t fall out over it and don’t bypass him. Let it lie fallow for a while. I once worked for a CEO who would tear new ideas to shreds and ridicule them. But the next day he would often say, “I was thinking about that idea of yours and I can see a way to make it work.” His initial reaction was to oppose an idea just to test it. But once the germ of the idea was in his head he could find ways to develop it. Above all don’t stop bringing forward ideas because the first few are rejected.

    Change means winners and losers. If you can be known as someone who is creative, innovative and a driver of change then the chances are that you will emerge a winner. Not only will you survive the change but you will be given the responsibility of making part of it a reality.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

    How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to win Arguments – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally Write A Killer Resume In Seven Easy Steps

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    Published on December 18, 2018

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    You’ve been in business for years and have finally hit your plateau.

    The tactics you’d implemented for your customers aren’t working as they’ve used to. You feel like your business has fallen out of the spotlight and now you’d have to settle for any business you get. It’s how businesses work, right?

    The truth is that some brands will fade off the business world–while others will adapt well and continue to grow. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for where your business currently stands. After all, you’d kept applying tactics that provided predictable results.

    Instead, decide to not settle for average results and spend more time building your brand. To make your business stand out from your competition, you need to be unforgettable. But how can you?

    In this article, I’ll cover timeless tactics that have worked for other businesses. If you apply these tactics correctly your competition won’t be able to copy them. Here’s how to brand yourself and make your business stand out:

    1. Win Your Audience’s Hearts with Authenticity

    The truth has always shined.

    Even without the technology we have today, people always had a way of finding out if someone was lying. And, with everyone engaging in social media today, it’s hard to hide from the truth. Yet, this seems to be what many businesses fail to do.

    For example, companies like Listerine have been fined for lying.[1] A quick buck today won’t be worth it in the long run. Instead, practice being authentic to your customers and they’ll eventually rely on you.

    Allow your customers to buy your products with a money-back guarantee – then deliver on your promise. Be consistent with the content you provide and stay true to your brand.

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    For example, if you provide coaching services for entrepreneurs, don’t sponsor irrelevant brands. If you stop caring about your brand’s mission, your audience will notice. They’ll question your integrity with your business and stop trusting your brand.

    But if you gain your customer’s trust, you’ll start standing out from your competition. Your customers will feel safe purchasing from you since they’ll know you’re honest.

    2. Share a Story No One Will Be Able to Copy

    A few decades ago, a brand would’ve gotten away without being unique. That’s because back then starting a business was not accessible to most people. You’d either need enough money to launch your business or have the credentials. And even if you had all these qualifications, you needed to get past the gatekeepers.

    Today, technology has disrupted many of the barriers that were present a few decades ago. For example, today a college student can launch a Podcast within a week. He can create a website in a few hours and record a few Podcast episodes. If he’s persistent, he can build a large following overtime and get paid by sponsors.

    This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs but there’s more competition than ever. You can only do so much before other businesses begin to copy you. But what no business can copy is your story.

    That’s why you need to share your story with your audience.

    For example, if you have a money blog, share how you’ve overcome your financial struggles. If you run a freelance writing business, share how you’ve overcome writer’s block. The more your audience can relate to you the better.

    Without a story, your business won’t stand out. And if you copy what’s working for other businesses, you’ll experience short-term success.

    Take some time to share your story with the world, your audience will love you more for it.

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    3. Stop Reinventing Every Single Thing

    “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J.D’angelo

    You may have heard that being original is the way to stand out. While this is true to an extent, you also shouldn’t be original when something is already working.

    For example, if your competition has a successful Podcast in your field, then so can you. Don’t search for better alternatives to a Podcast if it’s already working.

    Why?

    Because this is a waste of time. Instead, copy what’s already working and make it your own.[2] If your competition has a Podcast, figure out which areas you can improve and tailor it around your brand.

    Knowing this you can now spy on your competition and determine which areas you can improve. But, know that it also works the other way around. Others will view your business and copy what’s working for you.

    That’s why it’s important to stay true to your brand and be authentic with your audience. When you do, your competition won’t be able to copy your unique traits. Have an abundant mindset and feel confident for what your business has to offer.

    4. Shine Because of Your Uniqueness

    Stop trying to help the entire world and focus on helping a specific group of people instead.

    I get it, you’re willing to help almost everyone because you want to bring in more business. But the truth is that if you resonate with everyone, you resonate with no one.

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    Take, for example, a marketing agency that helps businesses promote their product. This business doesn’t speak to anyone but gets occasional sales throughout the year.

    But what if there was a similar marketing agency dedicated to helping real estate agents? If there was a real estate agent looking for help in marketing–who do you think they’ll choose? That’s why niching down is necessary if you hope to stand out from your competition.

    Determine which customers you enjoy working with the most and determine which customers bring in the most revenue. Once you’ve gathered enough data, focus on servicing your ideal customer.

    Don’t expect immediate results since this won’t be an easy transition. If you’re currently helping a narrow audience, slowly transition into a niche audience. Niching down is crucial to building raving fans.

    5. Be the Brand Everyone Can Depend On

    Being the brand your customers can depend on is important. How many times have you bought a product that’s failed on its promise? Or have settled for an average service?

    Exceeding your customer’s expectations is a sure way to make your brand stand out. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, studies on human psychology prove that when you give to others, they’ll reciprocate. Offer your customers free consulting, a free ebook, or free quality content. Eventually, they’ll be happy to reciprocate after receiving value from you.

    View what your competition is doing and surpass their offers. For example, if your competition offers a free 15-minute consulting call, offer 30 minutes. When you focus on helping others more, your customers will notice.

    Make it your mission to serve your customers first and then worry about making a profit. Other ways for your business to be reliable is by inspiring your customers. That’s right, a business isn’t only about selling, it’s also helping customers achieve their goals.

    For example, you can write content that will inspire your audience to take action. You can interview guests that will push your audience to break bad habits. Get creative and look for more ways in which your audience can depend on you with.

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    The Bottom Line

    Imagine serving fewer customers and getting paid more than ever.

    Despite the fierce competition, you’ve got fans wanting to buy your products and services. Although this may seem impossible right now, it’s not. If other brands have been able to stand out in a crowded industries, why can’t yours?

    The truth is that standing out from your competition isn’t easy. There’s no secret formula that’s available to the rest of the world. The trick is to do what most brands are unwilling to do.

    Many businesses don’t want to niche down because this will mean a loss in sales. But that’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success. Niching down is necessary to build a brand your customers will love.

    Many businesses will spend a lot of money looking for ways to innovate, but won’t apply what’s working. But, not you.

    You’ve got what it takes to stand out from your competition. Start slowly and master each principle covered here. Now go and make your business stand out like never before.

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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