Posts Tagged ‘eBay’

Gaining Market Share

September 22, 2010

You gain market share during tough times. This is when many of your competitors are pulling back; not advertising, not investing in technology and not looking for innovative products and solutions.  Tucking in and waiting for the storm to blow by is the surest way to give up market share.

An article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago talked about creating innovation communities within organizations.  While speaking to different business groups since then, I realized many small business people don’t utilize these sorts of ideas, they dismiss the concept as “big company”.

Are you looking for ways to grow your business? Wondering which products and services you should offer customers?  Ask your staff!  The people on the front lines dealing with customers on a daily basis are in the best position to give valid input.  ASK THEM!

Don’t be surprised if the first time you ask, they look confused and stunned.  No one has probably ever asked before.  In your next staff meeting, talk about the challenges of the economy and the impact it is having on your business.   Point out that since they interact with customers on a daily basis, they likely have valuable insights they may not even realize they have.

Stress to them the importance of sharing this information and their ideas so that your company can continue to not only survive, but grow and offer more opportunities for them in the future.  Repeat this often enough and soon they will become more aware, tuned in and serve as great customer feedback receptors.

Innovation communities is just a fancy term for targeted brainstorming sessions. Do you have too much inventory?  In your team meeting, ask the staff for suggestions on ways to convert this merchandise into much needed cash for your business.  Should you list items on E-bay?  Put a table outside to take advantage of lunch traffic?  Email a discount coupon to loyal customers?

Want to attract new customers? They may suggest using social media or services such as Groupon.  Empower staff to check out these potential avenues and come back with detailed information so you can decide if it could work for you.

Even if you only have a staff of 2 – that’s 2 more brains working on problem-solving! When I owned my retail chain, we routinely involved top sales people in the product selection process with the manufacturers.  Who better to know what they needed to be competitive than those who actually sell the product day in and day out?  Plus their enthusiasm for the new products they helped select guaranteed a better than average sales rate for those items.

Innovation doesn’t have to be on the scale of the iPad, sometimes it’s a simple solution to a common problem – something your competitors have not even realized customers want or need.  Innovative if often just involving other members of your team – likely something your competition hasn’t thought to do!

Embracing Change

August 20, 2010

Most business people have seen more change in the past 18 months than in the entire history of their companies. They also admit they don’t know when – or if – things will return to “normal” or if THIS is the “new normal.”

One of my close friends closed her business this week after 10 years.  Other friends are unemployed or have been forced to move to being self-employed after the companies where they worked – often for decades – closed their doors.

In my personal life, I’m experiencing a bit of change.  The youngest of my stepsons is moving into his 1st apartment on Monday.  My only niece moved to Dallas to start college this week.  One of my friends who runs Vision House, a transitional housing facility for homeless families posted Facebook photos of her son’s college dorm room with wistful comments about the change this represents in their lives.  Even my housekeeper is feeling the emotional effects of the changes in our household!

Whether the changes you are experiencing are business or personal, they are still unsettling. Just reading all of this likely caused you some anxiety.  Not one to wring my hands for long I find myself asking, so, what can we do about it?

Be proactive – embrace the change.  Sure, easier said than done, but try  at least.  Activity, productive tasks, can lessen the sense of being out of control.

Simple things, going shopping for new apartment furnishings with my stepson helped quell my anxiety over the move.  Stripping and washing the bed linens so they will be fresh when they get to the new apartment seems to have helped my housekeeper feel like she’s helping rather than waving from the curb.

Your team members, family members and friends likely would like to help you with your changes as well. Do you have inventory you need to move?  Rally your employees and support network to look for ways to turn these items into cash even if that is using eBay or Craigslist.  Take this opportunity to clean out and stream line.  If you have too much space, is there someone else you know who would like to use the space and help contribute to costs?

When what you have done before is no longer working, it’s time to think outside the box – get creative – try something different.

Are there unemployed teens who can distribute flyers in the neighborhoods around your business or attract customers with signs and balloons along the road?    Are you using social media effectively?  Need help?  Ask a young person in your circle and let them feel valued.  If they do a good job, give them a reference for the work they have done on your “special project” to help them in their employment search.

Like all of you – I don’t know when – or if things will ever go back to the way they were.  But what I do know is that change is a natural part of life and that learning to embrace it is the surest way to not only survive – but thrive!

%d bloggers like this: