No industry is too big to fail! Technology disruption leaves a trail of casualties, i.e. businesses that can not change or are too slow to recognise the need and do it.
We may think we’ve been tested with the pandemic, but the reality is disruption started way before it, and it will continue indefinitely. The pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for many businesses. For example, in the USA alone thousands of retailers have hit the wall and will never reopen their doors.
The pandemic has been a big test for many industries, and it’s changed how consumers buy and sell. For example, a business that can not survive via remote working and contactless sales knows its future is less certain.
Empty workplaces like department stores have struggled in post-lockdown recovery, with many enterprises knowing the inevitable end. For example Macy’s a firm favorite department store but with too much invested in foot traffic sales 125 stores will be gone by 2024.
Pandemic The Start Of Disruption?
The pandemic was not the start of business disruption, and it just sped up the necessary transition from contact to contactless trading. The companies that had already completed their transition to trading online or were well on their way with it have probably survived.
Unfortunately, thousands of retailers have hit the wall in the USA alone and will never reopen their doors.
Putting off change is more likely the real cause of business failure for traditionally offline industries but can operate online. Of course, some sectors were riding into the sunset for as long as it lasted, knowing that eventually, their time was up.
Disruption Caused Failure
For businesses in these sectors, the end was swift and ruthless.
What’s been the death of the movie theater industry has been the rise of another – in-home entertainment.
Home entertainment is now the norm. Experiencing the latest movie releases on the big screen has all but gone for good. There was a delay between when the latest release was screened at movie theaters and when it was available online. Now new movies are released in tandem, which has been a huge hit to box office sales.
Coronavirus may have all but put the final nail in the coffin of movie theaters, but that’s all it did. Tech disruption has been all over this industry for years. Think online streaming providers who have been gaining ground for some time, including:
Do you remember renting videos from Blockbuster? Renting movies on video was the start of the demise of movie theaters, and while Blockbuster disrupted the big screen industry, it failed to innovate further and has since failed.
Whereas the creators of Netflix started as a DVD rental service in 1997 and kept innovating as soon as it realised the future of entertainment was online. With a mission to ‘entertain the world,’ Netflix moved to a streaming service and now has some stiff competition from other streaming providers.
Producing content for the big screen and then the small screen and now online with Disney Plus, here is not only a survivor, now a market leader. Arguably it’s the biggest threat to Netflix and other streaming providers like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, HBO Max and many others.
Another sector that has been desecrated by tech disruption is the big brand bookseller. Think Borders Group, who didn’t spend time browsing in one of their stores? However, enter the eBooks and Amazon Kindle, and the rest is history.
There is a feel-good ending for the humble small booksellers who recognised their niche could do well with a ‘local’ audience. While the franchises like Borders went out of business, the local village bookseller survived.
Using the fundamentals of marketing 101 to become a leader in a new category, boutique booksellers have thrived using online local marketing strategies like Google Adwords and List My Business and Reviews to drive customers into their stores.
To avoid being a casualty of disruption, adopt change and, if possible, let your business become the disrupter. If this is not viable, change anyway using innovation and marketing basics to remain relevant with your targeted audience.
Why Going Green Is Good For Your Business (& How To Do It)
The more we learn about our environmental impact, the more we understand the responsibility of supporting sustainability efforts.
Adopting a green approach to business practices shows a commitment to promoting future global ecological and social balance.
Sustainability is a long-term goal that can drive positive change in the environmental sphere when incorporated into corporate strategies.
As more consumers align with companies that share their values, going green is good for the environment and is also good for your business. Sustainability has fast become a business opportunity, benefiting your business finances, reputation, workplace culture, and employee morale.
Therefore it just makes good business sense, so let’s look at the why and how of going green.
Why Go Green?
From customer relations to tax incentives, the benefits of going green are a major drawcard for business owners looking to incorporate sustainability in their corporate strategy.
Strengthen brand reputation
Sustainability is a modern expectation of brands these days. For your brand to strengthen and retain its reputation within your industry, it’s essential to showcase your sustainability efforts. How potential customers perceive your brand will come down to multiple factors, with sustainability measures high on the list.
Build customer base
Sustainability is a central factor in how we shop these days. Eco-conscious consumers are on the rise, and this sizable demographic advocate for brands that prioritize environmental, social, and ethical standards.
The experts agree. In a recent State of the Industry report, Jenkins Freshpac Systems had this to say on making the shift to more sustainable practices:
Some businesses question – why make the switch from plastic packaging to something more sustainable? Well, from our viewpoint, a better question is: Why wouldn’t you? Consumers are making more and more purchasing decisions with sustainability in mind, so this should be enough incentive for any business to become more environmentally friendly.
A corporate sustainability strategy will help you tap into this market and build your base.
Increase customer loyalty
Plus, going green is also an opportunity to increase the loyalty of your current customers.
Sustainability is the way of the future, and we’re all jumping on board in our own time. Whether associating with ethical companies or ditching plastic packaging, consumers take their own steps to cut their environmental impact.
Many consumers are eco-warriors, so there’s an opportunity to show them you’re aware. You care too about your carbon footprint and sustainability giving your existing customers the motive to stay loyal.
Improve employee happiness
Your employees are a top priority. Did you know that employees of green companies are happier, more motivated, and feel more valued? This is because sustainability initiatives show a business has a social conscience, resulting in positive company culture and higher quality of (work) life.
Employees like to know the company they’re working for is a force for positive change. Going green will not only strengthen employee loyalty but improve applicant numbers for vacant positions.
Enjoy tax benefits
Governments worldwide incentivize corporate sustainability, offering tax-related benefits to companies that invest in green technology and renewable energy. Check out your local tax systems to see what sustainability measures to adopt to qualify for tax credits or deductions.
How do you go green?
Now that we know the business benefits of going green, it’s time to look at how to go green. Going green requires an open mind and a willingness to see the bigger picture. The sustainable measures of eco-conscious corporations – big or small – have the potential to impact our world significantly.
Employee workplace flexibility
Giving your employees the option to work from home is a win-win for you and your staff. Not only good for productivity but working from home is also an excellent sustainability initiative. Working from home requires no commuting, reducing fuel emissions with fewer cars on the road. Less staff in the office also means reduced workplace energy consumption, and there are opportunities to save on energy while running your business from home.
Innovative technologies have given us an array of simple ways to reduce energy consumption. If you’re serious about going green, consider adopting the following energy-efficient initiatives.
- Swap outdated light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs
- Install heating and cooling with a high energy-efficiency rating
- Invest in electric or hybrid vehicles to slash company fuel emissions
- Replace glass windows with double-glazing
- Upgrade to energy-efficient staff room appliances
- Improve office ventilation and insulation
Packaging is a leading contributor to the world’s growing plastic problem. No matter how many ‘green’ measures your company takes, all your efforts go out the window if you package products in plastic. You won’t be taken seriously as a sustainable business if you’re stuck in the dark ages of plastic packaging.
With so many sustainable packaging options available, there is simply no reason to use plastic. Sustainable packaging is compostable or biodegradable while still offering a durable and protective seal for your products.
Digitalizing your company’s documentation can significantly reduce – possibly eliminate – the need for paper in the office. Going paperless is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. If it’s necessary to use paper, opt for recycled paper and ensure your employees print double-sided to halve your workplace consumption.
Employee sustainability training
When your business has officially ‘gone green’, sustainability will become part of your employees’ job descriptions. Staff sustainability training ensures all of your employees share and support your environmental values and understand their role in implementing them.
Green businesses understand the global dependence on sustainability. While the prospect of going green may be daunting, small steps towards a more sustainable business can have major benefits for both your business and the environment. There’s no time like the present to go green. It makes good business sense, especially when consumers are all for it!
What The Pandemic Has Taught Businesses About Staff
Businesses can be optimistic about their future post-pandemic. Countries are opening up, and customers are leaving their homes to frequent their favourite stores. If your company was performing well before the pandemic and enforced lockdown, then it stands a great chance of a quick recovery and in time thrive again.
However, there is no hard and fast rule for success; there will be challenges ahead. If your business is in a sector drastically affected from closed borders, then your business will be on a slower recovery trajectory and in the meantime, rely on Government support.
As many businesses have never been tested, COVID-19 was a shot in the arm of a new reality. Not only did owners realise they failed to have a disaster recovery plan they also had no contingency funds to see them through three to six months of low or no sales. There is a new routine and pre-pandemic business, as usual, will never return.
Company boards and owners and management team will not make the same mistakes again. Albert Einstein famously said:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
The time has come to try different approaches to every aspect of the business.
Staff Resilience and Resourcefulness
Managers have learned a thing or two about their workers’ resilience and resourcefulness during the enforced ‘working from home’ aka remote working.
No longer will managers micro-manage their team as they did before COVID-19. Remote working has thoroughly tested self-management with accountability monitored online with tracking software, social intranets, video conferencing and other team collaboration software.
Workers now want to work part of the week from home, and businesses should encourage it. Why? Well, our best work happens when we are fully rested and relaxed. The workplace has many distractions, and some people don’t get along, which is stressful for them and the coworkers around them.
Therefore if the solution to keeping all your talented staff is remote-working part of the week and the outcome is your business has harnessed higher productivity that will deliver more value to the company. A happy team are more creative, and innovation is required in downturns, i.e. recessions.
Empower your staff to do their best work and to use their remote working time not stuck at their workstation but getting outside in the fresh air exercising. Being in the zone in a repetitive activity inspires new thoughts and inspiration.
The recovery of your business will need to lean on its workers to come up with the goods and also mix it up. They need to seek opportunities to improve on your company’s existing products and services as well as design and develop new tools and features to meet the needs of consumers today.
Invest in Online Resources
If ever there was a time for improving your online resources for customers – now is it. Even the most reluctant online user is now up to speed with online shopping, social media and video chat.
Make sure you a chatbot, so your visitors have instant access to your business support crew. Also, remember your front window is now many sites, not just your website.
Social Media Presence
Your business Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter feed are just a few of the many sites available with millions of users. Find the social media platform that works for your business. For example, LinkedIn is typically the site for professional services, whereas Facebook and Instagram are perfect for hospitality and retail.
Dedicate ample time to these channels and delegate the task to the team members best suited to the role. Remember if you enjoy something you will spend more time doing it. Therefore give the responsibility of managing your Facebook page to the employee who gets a lot of satisfaction from it.
The pandemic has taught businesses to trust their workers while they work from home. Reverting to how it was before is not an option, so changing it up to meet the new normal is the path to success.
How To Grab Attention On Video Conference Calls
We are in the age of ‘COVID-19’, and our lives will never be the same again. We’ll be working from home more often and using video conferencing for meetings with colleagues, management and customers. In-person meetings allow for verbal and non-verbal cues. Body language can play a significant role in negotiation, for example.
Changes in body language or small facial expressions can provide observers, i.e., meeting attendees, messages on how to respond to get the right outcome. If you’re someone who uses non-verbal cues to sway discussion in your favour, then video-conferencing is a challenge. So how can we get what we need from these online meetings using what we have at hand, i.e. the small visuals of meeting attendees?
In this article, we provide tips on how you can get your points across, even when the other attendees are more extroverted than you.
Use The Camera
Focus on the camera and what it can do for you. There is a temptation to stare at your screen and the other attendees in the meeting. Get past this action as soon as you can. Allow yourself a few minutes to view all the other participants, then turn your attention to the meeting’s contents.
Active listening is required and if it helps you to remember what is being discussed – take notes. To assist this action further, say which participant explained the point, for example, Attendee John (Manager): “we will now always work from home two days a week”.
When you’re talking, stare into the camera and not at the attendees’ faces on your screen. While this is very unnatural, and at first, you’ll think you’re rude or ill-mannered by not looking at the attendees like you would if you were in an in-person meeting. However, looking deeply into the camera not only focuses you on what you’re saying but you also won’t get distracted by attendees non-verbal distractions.
Mastering the skills for video conferencing productivity will take practice. The multi-tasking of taking notes while actively listening and remembering to optimise the time spent looking into the camera will be your juggling act!
What you’re working against is human nature and the obsession we have with ourselves. Dale Carnegie says if we’re not thinking about a project, we’re thinking about ourselves. A lot of time is spent and indeed wasted thinking about how we feel, what we want, and what other people think of us, so you can see what you’re up against to master video conference meetings as an active participant or meeting lead.
Use Your Voice
Understanding the basics of human nature can be gained from studying neuroscience or neurolinguistic programming. Introverts are less likely to sit tall or speak up than extroverts; however, they can practice doing both. Without the non-verbal cues getting in the way, video conferencing is a great levelling feature.
When you’re on a video call, always speak louder than your usual speaking voice. Plus, use your voice to express yourself through using pitch, high and low, vary it to keep your audience engaged. Extroverts are experts in changing tone and adding volume to grab attention and express themselves. Introverts will also master this skill by knowing that they are in the room with the meeting attendees and that no one is spending much time thinking about them!
What is in the background when you’re on a video conference call? Take care to have a bland background, so your frame is not the meeting’s distraction! Ideally, use a plain white wall for your background. If that’s not possible, make sure the shelves behind you have only the objects you don’t mind your work colleagues and customers viewing, i.e. do not place intimate or personal items on the shelves that will end up being the topic of discussion.
Even though you’re working remotely and most often from your home, avoid wearing your leisure apparel. Your appearance should be what your colleagues would expect to see if they were sitting next to or opposite you in a meeting room. Once again, the objective of your appearance is to avoid being a distraction.
If you’ve been reluctant to use video conferencing, these tips will boost your confidence to use the technology without distraction.
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