Questioning the Trends

We’ve reached the race for the finish line in 2014: we’re 2 months away and counting. Are you ready to make the most of these 2 months in your business? If you haven’t made the connection yet I like to take advantage of holidays and celebrations throughout the year in business because it’s a great way to create an immediate connection between what you offer and what’s relevant for people or trending. I don’t suggest that you only follow the trends, some trends are really wrong and really bad, but there can be big opportunities to taking note of them or taking advantage of many trends.

By connecting holidays, celebrations and events with what you offer, not only are you showing sensitivity for some of the deeper emotions that people may be experiencing and showing your human side, you’re also help people understand what you offer by sharing about it in terms that people are thinking about. For example, if you were a cleaning service you can share about your weekly cleaning service, but everyone offers that. Instead you can offer holiday cleaning, winter blues cleaning, clean for your partner on Valentine’s Day, spring cleaning, ready for summer parties cleaning, back to school cleaning, or get rid of the leaves cleaning. I think you get the idea from just that one set of examples. Yes, some people will think that you’re out to exploit them, but if you share it in a way that is totally of service to them you help them see how you can help them in their lives and how relevant you are to what they need.

But as you know, trends aren’t always the best things to follow: you can invest a lot in making sure your business follows the trend, or trying to set the trend, and have it totally flop on you. Trend setting is a lot more dangerous than trend following, but with both you have to make sure you really do the research to make sure that that trend is really a good fit for your business.

I was chatting with a business owner this week about some challenges in their business and they asked me if I knew the competition for their business (as in they didn’t). It was a good thing we were emailing because my jaw hasn’t gone that close to the floor in quite some time. I am totally blown away when people come to me having done absolutely no research about the business they’re getting involved in or considering, let alone running. The internet is a wealth of information, free information at that, that allows you to really easily research the competition. It blows me away that there are so many struggling business owners when the answers are a few clicks away.

So my challenge to you this week is to talk with your audience, find out what matters to them, what they’re thinking about right now, what’s worrying them right now, what excites them, and how you can better help them. The answers are out there just waiting for you to ask the questions.

“I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.” Dick Clark

Living with Thanks

We’ve reached the second to last month of 2014, are you ready for the year to be over or are you going to do your best to make the most of these last few weeks? This month we’re going to talk quite a bit about a topic that I believe is essential to business owners, parents, partners and kids alike: being thankful. So we will be discussing a thanks related topic each Monday (and you can read even more over on my life and spirituality blog).

Today I wanted to talk about what being thankful is really about. Theodore Roosevelt said:

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”

Last month I shared a lot about compassion, including the incredible realization that compassion isn’t just an emotion: it’s really an action. You can read more at this blog post, but simply put, if you’re feeling true compassion for someone, not only are you going to feel bad for the person where they’re at and the situation they’re in, but you’re going to do everything in your power to make sure they don’t stay there. True compassion is unable to leave the situation as bad as it is, it’s almost a compulsion to make a change.

In this statement Roosevelt reminds us that being thankful is much the same as compassion: it’s really an action based sentiment, of course we’ve gotten pretty good at making it just empty words. Which is really the challenge we’re up against this month: can we make being thankful about more than just 2 empty words that we say when someone holds a door for us or helps us pick up dropped papers? Can we turn around and do something nice for someone else because someone helped us? Can we go out there and make a difference in someone’s life because someone made a difference in ours?

That would be my challenge to each of us this month as we look at holiday sales, crazy family parties, and the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years; to make a difference in the lives of others around us. Maybe that looks like a discount for a customer you know you can help but doesn’t quite have enough to pay you, or donating your time or resources at a homeless shelter, or taking the kids to play with homeless kids. What will you do to share your thankfulness for all you’ve been blessed with this month?