Dare to do things differently

Deorah Winchester
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Deborah Winchester is a director and editor at Shopper Anonymous UK, the nation’s leading customer feedback organisation. Here, she urges businesses to embrace change and think outside the box in order to better their position for the future

A family member received an interesting gift at Christmas; a five-year diary. But not a five-year diary as we know it, it is a one line a day, memory book. Each page is dedicated to one date so that in five years you can look back and gain an immediate view of what has happened on the same day every year.

I LOVE the idea of a one line a day memory keeper and have ordered one for myself. I will make an effort to find the two minutes it would take to record my day and I’m sure the reality of recording my 2017 days under the 2016 entries will spark many interesting revelations. How many of us commit to making a change and how many of us are still doing the same thing one year later? How many of us start the year with fresh plans and goals and how many of us are still in the same house, car, relationship, fitness or financial situation one year later?

Thinking ‘outside the box’ could the same concept be applied to your business? January is a time for business planning, goal setting and re-adjusting targets. January can also be the time when you examine your own personal work ethic or habits and assess what is productive and what is wasteful. So how revealing would a five-year, one line a day business diary be?

Embrace the changes

In order to ensure that your 2021 position is different and hopefully BETTER than your 2016 position, it is not enough to just write down your goals and strategies and then busily get on with doing what you’ve always done.

Not many people like change. The usual excuses emerge… ‘I like the old way, I’m comfortable with that system, I’m quicker with that software, it’s always worked quite well for me…’ But working ‘quite well’ is not enough in this digital age of immediate feedback and high customer expectations. Each year your diary entry should reflect the changes around you.

‘If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got’

Times change rapidly. Most of the software, platforms and devices that we will be using in 2020 have not even been created yet.

Those of us who embrace technology, and all that the digital world offers, will be in the best position to succeed with our business goals. Those of us who stick to old habits and old ways may find we are left behind and looking at the same diary entry repeated five times in 2021!

Some tips for ‘doing it differently’ this year:

Use data. If you are not using data to assess the true state of what works, you are NOT getting a true indication of what is going on. Whether it’s analytics of traffic to your website or statistics about customer footfall during the day, you need to be aware of what is happening.

Plan your growth. Investment in people, processes and technology must be budgeted for and measurable. Plan to invest.

Factor in time to learn. Make it a priority to explore new ideas, new concepts and new innovations in your sector. Do you know if Periscope could be useful for your business? Have you listened to your accountant when she asked you to spend 30 minutes looking at the advantages of FreeAgent?

Be present. Be visible and active on social media. Publish regularly. If this is not your skill, employ someone who is expert in this area. Those businesses that have no social media presence will be left in the digital dark.

Be smarter than your customers. And they are smart. They can access any number of review websites to check you out. They can spend less than five seconds on your website before deciding they don’t like what they see. They know that other companies do it better, faster, more efficiently. What will you do differently to capture their attention? Are you ready for the 2016 customer?

So to ensure you are ‘doing it differently’ this year, buy or create an online one line a day diary and record your day. In an ideal world every future 10 January will be VERY different. And, of course, in an ideal world, your fifth year 10 January entry will read:

“Enjoyed the Andaman Sea leg of our private yacht adventure but quite slow due to no wind. Might be July before we dock back in the UK…”

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