Blue Ocean Strategy gets your business moving in new directions as you shift from competing to creating a new market space.
"From Siri to Alexa to Watson, we're living in an AI world," says Peter George, CEO of empow, a global cybersecurity firm. I couldn't agree more. From carrying on conversations with humans to propelling self-driving cars, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast becoming an integral part of everyday life. And its influence in the world of business is no exception.
The vast capabilities of AI and how they are being used in business is the focus of a recent American Express OPEN Forum article which features the viewpoints and predictions of eleven business leaders, of which I was one. (Peter George was another.)
Though we come from different industries, the eleven of us all recognize the enormous value of AI and how it can be used in business to complement, but not completely replace, humans. This is a big subject, and only getting bigger, which is why I'd like to share with you a sample of these leaders' statements, along with my own. Enjoy, learn and share. (You can access the article here.)
When it comes to adopting new technologies, most people assume that the accounting industry is far behind, stubbornly resisting change. Yet in reality, the opposite is true. Today, the entire accountancy industry is rapidly being transformed, primarily due to productivity optimization brought about by the ever-growing tech revolution. Even at SAMC, we're taking advantage of new technological advances, such as Inbound Marketing.
Gone are the days of accountants being burdened with repetitive, time-sucking tasks. With the dawn of innovative technological solutions like intelligent automation, better predictions and efficient data analysis, today's accountants can now spend more time focusing on helping their clients grow their companies through better business strategies.
And it's not just the accounting industry that's being transformed by highly useful data analytics. Almost every industry these days is affected. Here are just a few of the influences that are revolutionizing the way companies do business today:
You've probably noticed them. Very likely, you're one of them yourself...a baby boomer who is approaching retirement age (or is even well past it). But if you're like many over the age of 50, you may be feeling the itch to start a business and go looking for new opportunities and untapped markets.
And why not? People over 50 have a host of things working in their favor, from decades of work experience to a valuable network of connections to the financial resources needed to start and run a new business successfully. All of these combine to make this a great time to take the leap and try turning your big idea into something big.
Here are two more reasons why the "over 50" age set is an opportune time to start a business: the internet revolution and the explosive growth of technology, both of which have generated important new tools for older entrepreneurs to consider. Running a thriving, modern company today depends on advanced technology capabilities and extensive internet knowledge, both of which you and your company need to have. Here are 5 things to consider as you start to develop a business strategy for these fast-changing times, which I'd like to share here:
5 tips for starting a business over 50
Photo courtesy of The Roanoke Star
Whether you know all there is to know about blockchain technology, or whether you know nothing about it, this worldwide phenomenon is changing how we do business, conduct commerce, keep our currency secure, even book a hotel. Its influence is growing by leaps and bounds, so if you're not familiar with how it works, you need to get up to speed, fast.
That's the essence of a recent article I wrote for The Roanoke Star, in which I said that people typically think of blockchain only in connection to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and DigiByte. But the blockchain technology is really what people should be paying attention to. (Read the article here.)
Originally created to keep cryptocurrency transactions secure, blockchain now has seemingly limitless applications
As I state in the article, blockchain's value lies in the fact that once data is recorded, it can’t be changed without the approval of a majority of network participants. This creates a (supposedly) fraud-proof system and authenticates the information that’s exchanged.
As examples, here are just a few of the ways blockchain is being used today:
Do you have a brilliant idea for a startup but have little or no capital to bring it to life? Feeling guilty that you’re mentally running through a list of wealthy relatives and financially stable friends whom you can hit up for an investment? Don’t feel bad. Some of the most successful startups were funded by those nearest and dearest to the founder.
Why You Should Pitch to Family and Friends
It’s no secret that when looking for investors for your startup, the first people you should approach are those in your inner circle. In fact, they may even be offended if you don’t. Moreover, if you contact venture capitalists or angel investors first, these “financial types” may question why no one from your family, friends or community are backing you. This may in turn lead them to question your integrity and credibility.
Yet, it’s understandable why you might be hesitant to involve family and friends. Not everyone has entrepreneurial families (like Walmart) who get excited at the thought of a new business venture. For those people, it’s almost expected of them to either take up the family business or build something of their own, and tapping the relatives is practically a given.
However, some families just aren’t adventurous when it comes to investing in business ideas. Maybe they’re in traditional office jobs and have been employees most of their lives, with little risk involved. Maybe they’ve raised a family and have never worked outside the home. Or maybe they’re just not good at envisioning what could be rather than what already is. These types will be more difficult to convince.
So if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to present your idea in a way that proves you’ve considered all the potential risks and rewards. To get you started, here are some tips on how to approach family and friends to help you launch your new business:
What if each of your employees felt really appreciated, an integral part of the team? And what if these positive feelings then translated into better performance, higher output, more idea generation and greater company profit? Wouldn't that be great!
Storytelling is a great way to change your company culture
Thanks to the digital revolution, people are not buying things the way they used to—they just aren't. The old sales funnel we knew for decades is long gone.
As entrepreneurs, this means that you now need to build your business growth strategies differently in order to capture buyers on their journey, not yours. Since the buyer’s journey is an essential framework for any marketing strategy, you must start to think like your buyer and understand the steps he or she is taking to make a purchase decision.
This new mindset is crucial if you are going build your sales volume fast enough to succeed.
How Has the Buying Game Changed?
If you are an emerging entrepreneur searching for a big idea or a budding business owner building your new enterprise, you are probably great at seeing things with fresh eyes. You know that people are waiting for new solutions to their recurring problems.
Maybe they are struggling with a problem for which they have still not found the right answer. Maybe your partners and suppliers have pain points dealing with your processes and systems. Or, maybe your own employees might be struggling with company practices that aren’t working.
Whatever the situation, people need some great entrepreneur to see things with fresh eyes—and bring them the help they need!
It isn't more of the same, cheaper.
Whether it is the needs of a new customer you want to serve, or the challenges of your staff with your business model design, or the irritated supplier who wants you to get it right, you have some work to do.
But before you can solve your customers' and employees' issues and improve the situation, you need to know how they really “feel.” What are their thoughts? Their opinions? What changes do they hope to see? Which of your products or services do they wish were different? How do they solve their problems now? Do they decide to use competitors' products?
To answer all these questions, you need to go to the source. Please don't just ask them! Go Exploring!
As you already know if you've read any of my blogs, I am a corporate anthropologist who launched Simon Associates Management Consultants almost two decades ago to help organizations change using the theory, methods, and tools of anthropology. Before that, I was a tenured professor and then an executive in banking and healthcare—always focused on change.
My husband, Andrew Simon (Andy), joined SAMC several years ago after many decades as a successful entrepreneur. Since he was not an anthropologist, our positioning was not going to be an easy one to fit him into. And yet, the more we thought about it, he fit the modus operandi perfectly, as I describe in a recent article I wrote for Home Business Magazine, which you can read here.
The challenge for us was: How could Andy take his expertise and apply it in ways that worked within our company’s market positioning? We knew he was a great innovator and knew how to grow businesses at all stages of their development — from start-ups and early-stage companies to mid-market companies ready to expand their scope and shape. And when you think about it, growing is all about change.
SAMC is all about helping businesses change but we realized we had to change, too.