Thursday, April 28, 2011
If you want to be the best, you have to do more than just wake up or open the doors. Consumers now link the reputation of the company, business and product quality with the reputation of the brand. That trend will grow and continue into the future, and we must embrace a new way of building your business globally and locally. Look at the most successful businesses or entrepreneurs, and you will see that the people working in them or with them are strong at making four critical connections:
First, we must connect our business to the communities we serve. We need to be seen – and we need to be – a functioning part of the local communities where we operate. This means not just being a presence, but being a partner. When we give of ourselves as a partner in communities,the communities make a point to give back through sales and word of mouth advocacy, both in person and on line.
The second connection is with local, state and federal governments to address relevant challenges. Laws and regulations that will affect your business, whether they are local, state or federal, are happening with more yet to come. You can sit around and react, or you can build relationships with those who can affect your business. Your city council, health departments, local governments or trade associations can either make your business harder or be a resource for you as you operate. They are creating laws and regulations that affect your business now, and if you don’t represent your interests, who will? Invite the local city council member from your district to your business. Help them get to know your business, not just as a regulator or elected official, but as a potential customer or guest; find out what you can do for them! Talk about your profitability and what challenges you have. Talk to them about job programs to help you find qualified crew members and create jobs. Ask first about what you can do for them; are there local events you can help with? Over time, when you want an opportunity for exposure, or have a desire to grow, you’ll have more people in your corner.
The third connection is tying philanthropy and charitable investments right into the core of our business. Replace philanthropy with “line of sight” community engagement, because it’s no longer about just providing money or donations. Line of sight means it’s a cause that can directly affect your business. Provide volunteer hours, services or partnerships with local schools, food programs or charities. When your efforts are aligned with what you do and sell as a business, they make your business more sustainable.
You can do good in almost any industry and with many groups in your communities, so why not help groups or people that can contribute to your growth? When you give in your community, you get much in return, and there are benefits to volunteering, donating and helping with groups who can directly impact your business. Think about this:
• Do you have a local school or public training program that is looking for an internship or scholarships? Can you help? Does that help you recruit great employees?
• Is there a local food bank that may want to take expired food or non profit that could use your company's expertise? Will that get your business great expeirence and exposure?
These efforts not only build community and build our brand reputation, but they build loyal fans and employees who advocate for your business and help build sales!
The fourth connection is internal – to connect your business with the value of your employees. You must connect what you are doing with the values of your own employees; because businesses don’t have values and ethics … it’s the people representing your business that have values and ethics. If employees enter a workplace where they just ‘work’, just ‘make rolls’, they don’t fully connect. They’ll do what’s asked of them, but what you’ll get is compliance and not engagement or commitment. The most engaged and connected employees, the ones who feel they are cared about and where their work cares about them, are the employees that don’t steal, who grow your business, and who make you more profit per employee than any others. When employees enter a company that is seen to be improving society, employees bring their whole selves to work. It makes them better employees. It makes them better ambassadors, and by the way it also makes it easier to attract future top talent.
(Note, Credit and Homage: This is built on and directly taken from a speech from Neville Isdell on the topic of Connected Capitalism - see previous post http://www.katcole.net/2009/11/connected-capitalism-what-your-business.html )
Sunday, April 3, 2011
All weekend I've been working with a group of world changers - brewing something big. ...really big. You seriously want to hear this... and learn it... and most importantly be a part of it. Stay tuned.