Growing Your Small Business With Fiverr.com: Tapping into the Gig Economy

Bringing in a New Year creates a sense of renewal and opportunities. Yet, many small businesses have a ‘wait and see’ attitude riddled by uncertainty and unpredictability of the future. Most organizations have limited resources and must be cautious about their business growth. If you own a small business, what could you do with an extra stack of cash in your pocket by reducing your expenses while improving the quality of your goods and services? Over the last few years, I have been researching the freelance market in order to assist small businesses with the resource deficiencies that most organizations face.

With uncertainty in the market and competition at a peak, most organizations should rethink their business strategies. December’s outlook was not entirely positive. The fourth-quarter marked the worst start for stocks in 10 years. Many experts are skeptical about the economy for several reasons including: failure of popular tech stocks and the fallout from the trade fight between the U.S. and China. There is a weakening global economy that is wreaking havoc to U.S. companies. According to the Commerce Department in December, U.S. factory outputs were showing signs of slowing down. All of these realities demonstrate that businesses are not safe by maintaining the status quo. Things are changing… like it or not. One of the glaring trends was a search globally for talent. While Fortune 500 Companies have the financial strength for this international initiative, most small businesses could not do this… until now.  In this discussion, we examine how today’s small businesses can leverage the power of the gig economy to secure great freelance talent to maximize their performance. Continue reading

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Wicked Problems for Today’s Leaders

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My wife and I wanted to get a motion detector in our backyard. We had a backlight on the house already. The house was a new construction. The motion detector would be additional security. We estimated the price to be under $200.

When the electrician arrived, he talked with us about our needs and did a thorough inspection of the home. He came back with an estimate of over $600. He rationalized this price due to the configuration of our home and the difficulty of wiring this fixture.

My wife and I both wanted this motion detector. However, we were unwilling to pay the price for this addition. Thus, we needed to redefined the problem. We wanted this motion detector as extra security for the home. We asked the electrician what it would cost to change out the light fixture. He mentioned less than $80. The motion detector was about $50. By redefining or refocusing the problem, we were able to carryout a better solution. 

In search of more lucrative markets, today’s companies are looking for more opportunities across the globe. The United States is a land where dreams come true. Individuals from across the globe come to this country for possible opportunities. Yet, companies fail every day in the marketplace.

According to one study, the failure rate for new startups is about 46%. Botch understanding of your business competencies and market opportunities may put to be fatal. On the contrary, businesses that provide value to customers by solving their pressing problems are rewarded.

By solving someone’s challenging problems, individuals are compensated very well. Thus, solving ‘wicked problems’ could yield greater rewards.  In this session, we will discuss the concepts of wicked problems and introduces how organizations can solve them with effective leaders who provide a burst of innovative thinking.

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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The Future of Digital Marketing – Small Business Help

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Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

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Connecting The Dots Between Personal Competencies & Personal Branding

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With fierce competition for limited jobs, many college students wonder if they will be able to land a good job. Sadly, the economic situation feels like a bad dream. With a weak job growth, many U.S. jobs will continue to be outsourced globally or automated through technology. Yet, there are opportunities for those students who are prepared for the future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in 2024 will reach 160.3 million, an increase from 2014 of almost 9.8 million jobs. The health care and social assistance sector will account for over a third of the nation’s projected job growth from 2014 to 2024. This article focuses on how building the right competencies will help individuals brand their personal brand and increase their opportunities for job opportunities.

As a result, today’s unemployed workers are unsure about their future. Many students struggle to pursue the right major in college. Others follow the latest trend on reality TV for selecting their ideal major. Finding the ideal job is a combination of personal interest/passion, values, and skills/abilities.

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New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

Exploring Hidden Markets in Ballroom Dancing

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We just had to go on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, the place was known for great blues music. We stopped at one of the famous blues hotspots on this strip. We were directed to our seats; the house was packed with people. The band was playing with great passion. My wife and I walked in the room to celebrate with others the love of good music. The music was carried across the room slowly as blues music permeated the atmosphere like smoke covers a house on fire. Everyone was excited. People were all over the dance floor. These folks were no amateurs to blues. Interesting enough, my wife and I were the only black couple in this crowded location. Blacks created the blues. Yet, many blacks have either abandoned this genre or have forgotten the roots of this music. I hope that dance in America will not falter like this.

As my wife and I have danced ballroom in various states and different dance studios, we have not seen many black people doing ballroom dancing. African-Americans have made significant contributions in all walks of life, dance is no exception. Black History Month gives us a time to remember the pioneers of dance, including Josephine Baker and the Dance Theatre of Harlem and glance at the future. When you start talking about ballroom dancing, everyone thinks about the ABC’s hit show, Dancing With the Stars, that pairs up celebrities with professional dance partners in an intense ballroom competition. There are a few African Americans involved with ballroom dancing in the nation. In this session, we will examine how dance studios can better target African American communities by reaching an untapped market.

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How Small Businesses Can Deal With Competition

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Jay Cain was a promising engineering student at Georgia Tech. Coming into his sophomore year, Jay was ranked in the top of his engineering class. Having two high successful parents who were engineers themselves didn’t hurt his image among his peers. However, Jay was not happy with his projection in life. His passion was deejaying in front of an audience.  He had garnered a reputation in his high school and his local community for being a good talent in music. He even found himself deejaying parties in college while he was preparing for engineering exams and assignments. 

He told his parents several times he was thinking about leaving school in order to start his business full-time deejay. His parents dismissed the thought because they felt it was not realistic or practical given his abilities in engineering.  When the semester started at Georgia Tech, the school was missing one bright talented student…Jay Cain.  Leaving Georgia, Jay went to New York to make it big. Using money he saved, Jay found himself roomed with three unfamiliar roommates where the rent was cheap.  Jay found that working as a deejay was difficult because of the large competition among established deejays in the area.  Yet, Jay wasn’t about to give up with his dream. He just couldn’t go back to his parents or college.  Jay sat by himself trying to figure out how to meet the competition.

 As many millenniums start flooding the employment landscape, young adults are considering starting their own businesses.  Corporate downsizing and layoffs have thrust many individuals into a tough employment market while other employed workers who are unsatisfied with their jobs plot to fix a plausible exit strategy which will land them into their ideal job.

Sadly, many people run with these well intended ideas about starting a business with little insight into how to implement their plan so that the idea can be successful.  Most folks don’t realize that there is nothing new under the sun and found someone else who is doing what they set out to do. In fact, some people find themselves in a highly competitive environment with little or no plan for navigating this climate. In this issue, we will  examine the concepts of competition for small businesses fighting in global environments. Individuals will learn more about starting a business with competitive environment. Continue reading

Value Perceptions Among Customers

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Organizations should think strategically when creating value perceptions of their products or services.  In fact, they should seek to establish a formal tiered system where possible. Strategic leaders have a long view on value creation.

Strategic thinking is defined as ‘the generation and application of business insights on a continual basis to achieve competitive advantage.’ In fact, strategic thinking focuses on value creation by enabling a provocative and creative dialogue among people who can affect a company’s direction.

Marketing expert Ken Favaro maintains that putting value creation first gives businesses two advantages over their competition in driving for profitable and sustainable growth: the first is capital and the second is talent. In fact, he argued that successful value creators never suffer from capital shortage. 

Yet, this process shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. Customers and all members of the supply chain should provide input so that the expectations are clear. Businesses that pay more would get more benefits (i.e. certain perks, discounts, etc.). Therefore, the value proposition would be enhanced.

However, being strategically conscious about these business relationships isn’t simple.  Value must be understood and sought out.  Value is viewed as the perceived experience and worth gained from a product or service.  Organizations should make their product clear to customers; some businesses need to introduce a tiered system, based on value-added services.

For example, if I want cheap fast food, I go to McDonalds. Therefore, my expectations are lower than going to a five star restaurant.  Customers are very understanding when the seller’s value proposition is clear. Favaro further suggests that putting value creation consistently first requires leadership skills, discipline, and perseverance. He further challenged organizations to demand higher standards from managers who would jeopardize these business relationships.

Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, discuss that perceived value is in the eyes of the customer and varies.  They further argued that customers expect and deserve consistency in the way an organization’s value-added message is put forth.  Therefore, sales professionals’ biggest challenge is selling value.

Please discuss value perception of customers from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

Value Creation for Customers

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Customers determine the value of a product or service.  In today’s competitive environment, value creation is a corporate advantage.  However, building this value is often difficult.  People have different ways to assess value.  Some folks use traditional ways based on some established reference point, such as a company’s price guide. 

Yet, some ways are informal.  In many countries, haggling is an acceptable practice of transactional selling.  Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, explain how businesses must understand customer decision making processes for purchases. They note, “They [customers] tend to be value maximizers, within the bounds of search costs and limited knowledge, mobility, and income.” 

Here’s a personal example. My family visited Mexico and began the great American tradition of haggling sellers to get the price of merchandise down. Radio host Dave Ramsey believes everything is negotiable. Anything that is worth the effort of negotiation must have passed the value threshold to the consumer. Paul Peter and James Donnelly, authors of Marketing Management, note that culture, social class, and reference group influences play an important role in consumer behavior. 

Some risks are involved with purchasing.  This reality has a bearing on value for customers. If decisions involve low risk, they are often done quickly with little thought.  Yet, major purchases normally require more risks, like buying a house. Therefore, having a good relationship with the seller is important.

The buying decision stages are (1) recognition of need or problem, (2) determination and description of the traits and quality of the needed items, (3) research for qualified buyers, (4) acquisition and analysis of proposals or bids, (5) evaluation of proposals and selection of suppliers, (6) selection of an order routine, and (7) performance evaluation and feedback.

Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that many organizational purchases are motivated by the requirements of the firm’s production processes, merchandise inventory, or day-to-day operations. Therefore, customers are very value conscious on high priced items, such as cars. 

Customers use varying methods to reduce their buying risks. Negotiation expert Carleen Hawn recommends five common sense approaches for effective negotiations, which are: (a) don’t bargain over positions, (b) separate the people from the problem, (c) focus on interests, (d) invent options for mutual gain, and (e) insist on using objective criteria. In most cases, haggling at a specific retailer involves a one-time transaction. Johnston and Marshall further suggest that value creation is what ultimately gets customers to come back.  Therefore, businesses that allow haggling must build relationship selling components for repeat value to customers. 

Discuss your professional experience with value creation in your industry or organization.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green