By Susan Hamilton
Ever want to just pack it in? I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had where that was the subject. Sixty-five, seventy, some seventy-four years old – running a family business that after 50 years or so, is struggling to make enough money after overhead to pay the bills. No retirement, heavy commitment to lines of credit, and tired of the constant frustration that comes from herding cats. IS that scenario the American dream they bought into years ago? No, but often what they’ve accidentally created over the years is a parasitic relationship with their family member employees. Now, those relationships mean more than good business sense, and any random surge in revenue is such a relief, changing long-held bad habits and engaging in accountability practices is an effort pushed off again for ‘tomorrow’.
This is happening far too often, and limiting American business influence. I want to encourage an exhausted base to see past Friday’s payroll. We have to change the way we see ourselves and view our companies.
When I began in the marketing arena some 10 years ago, I marveled at how many business owners were basing their earning potential on word of mouth when the internet had become so useful. It was complicated to add that additional function into the workspace, but most people had a website and email – the big hurdle was social media and email marketing.
The difference in revenue between competitors was chalked up to who could afford television or radio ads. Those were the ‘big guys’.
Today, not much has changed. We all understand how important our website is, and most of us are willing to do some form of social media or email marketing. But we’re still ‘dabbling’ in them.
Full on systems are rarely exercised, and that’s about as effective as spray painting in the wind.
We still think television and radio ads are for the ‘big guys’ – and don’t give it a second thought!
Media ISN’T Just For The ‘Big Guys’ Anymore
No, media alone won’t solve business issues rooted in poor management, but we can all agree that with a significant increase in revenue, we can afford to make better choices. Better choices might mean accountability coaching, process development and perks that inspire a lagging staff to explore new, more effective approaches. Largely, this is our struggle, America. When it comes to family businesses that have been around 10-50 years, changes in routine are easily dismissed by family employees who figure they know better. And maybe they don’t, and maybe they do. No, media won’t necessarily fix that.
But today you can use mediums that exist inside of the space where people choose to entertain themselves, and it’s much more affordable. Digital media in the forms of articles, videos, internet radio, podcasts and television are the preferred method of information gathering for most of us, and because the delivery system is internet driven, you have the advantage of a stronger, more familiar brand and a reach that costs pennies in comparison to traditional television and radio ads or PR.
On top of that, you can understand if your approach is working much faster, and that gives you options to pivot that are equally as cost effective. If the message isn’t resonating after a solid campaign with a solid digital footprint in place, it can be recognized quickly and improved without much expense.
There is still an investment. Even free media doesn’t work well free. There is always an upgrade to expect, but if you surround yourself with good counsel, you can avoid the money traps and use products that offer clear strategy and reporting.
Making The Connection
More money can mean better systems, and betters systems can mean higher employee engagement and effectiveness, and higher engagement and effectiveness can mean higher morale and higher morale can mean more productivity, and more productivity can mean higher income – and for family and other staff on your team, all of this could equate to new trucks, better insurance coverage, employee benefits and even bonuses. THOSE types of rewards work to reduce a lagging staff that may be resistant to change – and offering those types of rewards makes it much easier for the patriarch or matriarch of the family business to levy accountability where appropriate. It’s not a carrot and stick approach; it’s an opportunity to improve the mission buy-in necessary to change the culture of the company.
The risk is great. More revenue can also spell disaster for a team that is satisfied working at a nominal level. But there is no improvement without risk, and nothing great comes without risk.
A reputation is B.U.I.L.T.
B – Bold Action
U – Unwavering Determination
I – Improved Constantly
L – Leveraged For Success
T – Tactical
Bold Actions are the ones that see the risk, but weigh the benefits over the fear of possible insufficiencies.
Unwavering Determination turns a boss into a leader, recognizing the necessity to empower the entire team to succeed over the exhausting resistance it might be met with and an unwillingness to accept anything less than success.
Improvement Constantly is a decision to evaluate regularly to see if milestones are being met and adjusting accordingly.
Media, processes, reward and accountability expectations are the things that must be Leveraged For Success in ALL organizations for maximum profitability and strong, trustworthy brand reputations.
All great brand reputations are Tactically engineered. Period. They are not accidents. Even if your company started out on that road, swayed off of it due to health issues, addictions, or over-regulation that made it hard to incorporate a natural rhythm in the wake of trauma – get right back up the minute you see that.
Life in business is not easy, but remembering that reputations are B.U.I.L.T will help you live a successful life in business and teach the next generation how important legacy truly is.
Use media, make more money, improve your reach and make your mark. No matter what your age and revenue currently is, you are not limited to the mindset of your current staff. Take a deep breath, take the lead, and if necessary, hire a coach to help you over the hump. The investment will take you to the next level and elevate your team to standards you dream of. THIS is where the rubber meets the road, my friends – the only option you really have is whether or not you choose to drive the car or let the car drive you.
Getting the boulder up to the cliff is the hardest part. Then all you have to do is push.
Originally featured in The OffBeat Business Magazine July 2016.
Susan Hamilton is the owner, host and editor-in-chief at OffBeat Business Media, a business for business digital media resource for strong brand development. Contact Susan at Susan@OffBeatBusiness.com or call 214-714-0495 to discover how digital content can work for you.