I’m Not Always Right

Two things in life I know for absolute certainty; not everyone will agree with everything I say and I often change my opinion on things.  These are both very important things to understand about yourself and the key to finding solutions to simple problems with complex issues.  The stated objective of the Small Business Foundation is to eradicate global poverty; a perfect example of this conundrum.

Red one hundred percent

I attract people with enquiring minds to the foundation, those amongst society who have fixed dogma are fairly quickly found wanting as their opinions are based on emotive confrontative styles of leadership.  It’s fairly easy for an informed mind to see the lack of substance in emotive arguments and point out the flaws, a big person will reconsider their position and change their mind.  To often than not though, self-interest agendas or personal ego will see them move on.  That’s great because no amount of insight will open a closed mind and we need thinkers to solve the big problems of the world.

The first half of the truisms about myself I pointed out was that it’s impossible no matter how informed you are and how persuasive you are that 100% of the people will agree with 100% of your ideas.  This is a more important principle to understand than having an open mind to change your opinion when you find out more information or perspective; the reason for saying this is that the solution to our problems lies in the fact that we are all individuals.  An approach of centralised control by governments to implement services or solutions does nor work because at our core, everyone is different.  Economics are simple but economies are complex and when one hat fits all is implemented the different people involved at the delivery end of the equation become dissatisfied.

We are all the same in that no-one will agree with us all the time, even our strongest supporters will not so why do we persist with accepting the same old problems from our politicians and not demand a different approach.  Yesterday I was talking about how privatisation of health services would produce a better outcome, again not everyone will agree with that approach but the key is that we need to become informed and have intelligent not emotive conversations.  Because we are all different, a one hat fits all solution implemented by State governments does not work; another alternative is to get local government to run hospitals.  Local politicians know far better the individuality of the people they represent and are far better informed about local problems than their State or Federal counterparts.  And another solution is to get local community leaders run their hospitals, again because they understand local issues.

The key point here is that decision making is made by individuals, not by a centralised thought policeman who tells us how to feel, think, act; we know that’s true and thats what’s important in business.  We have to determine how to explain the value of what we are selling to consumers in a way that they understand and with a desire to pay the price we ask.  Solving our problems is exactly the same, it’s an individual transaction to appreciate and understand the value being provided so why do we persist with having a bureaucracy detached from the transaction as the panacea of how we deliver government services…

Collective will  cannot solve our problems, collective intelligence, hard work and a desire to benefit others as well as yourself is the way to go in my humble opinion.  Are you of a similar mind, do you want to be part of the solution, do you think that starting conversations in the wider community based on sensible understanding of whats really going on is the way to creating a healthier, wealthier and happier society?

If you do, then you are an individual that needs to contribute, find out more about the Small Business Foundation and ask me how to get involved…

 

Trevor Dixon

Chairman Small Business Foundation

For more on “Enterprise” – The Art of Freedom, visit:

www.smallbusinessfoundation.org

 

Just another Carbon Copy

Competition is pretty much a given in the cut and thrust of politics but how does competitive behaviour in the world of enterprise affect you and the success of your business…

Anxiety

Yesterday’s headline was all about the leaking of confidential documents from the shadow cabinet and the Abbott government analysis that it reveals a “catastrophic” rift in the Labor party’s upper ranks, demonstrating a plot to destabilise leader Bill Shorten. It would seem that Labor is a bit shaken by the leak of this confidential climate paper, with Shorten and senior Labor MPs playing down the consequences and rejecting suggestions that the plan amounted to a “carbon tax”.

The leak denied Labor the chance to craft the public message on one of its most politically sensitive policy areas, and this is probably the most relevant point in relation to business. It is easiest to create competitive advantage when you are on the front foot.

If you are a carbon copy or a “me too” of your competitors you may think that you have very little to differentiate yourself with in the marketplace. A common default that is seen all too often is to create an impression that your service is better than your competitions. You will turn up on time, you will always return phone calls, you clean up after yourself or don’t wear work boots indoors. Now while that all may be true it should be a starting point not an exception that good customer service is given and is should not be the way you market yourself.

As in politics, it does happen from time to time that our competition deliberately sets out to white-ant our reputation and set themselves apart in the market. This is not the norm and if your focus is on how you establish a competitive advantage it is less likely that they will be able to do that anyway.   Politics is a dirty game they say and in the broader area of the economy – the real world, we are more focused on running our own business than someone else’s.

So what is the key to being successful if your product or service is at face value “the same as everyone else’s”.   The first thing is to embrace competition, while it is true that supply and demand can create high prices, it is also true that competition raises the profile of a product or service as consumers become more conscious of them and buyer resistance becomes reduced. The starting point of great customer service becomes the norm from this competition and again sets the benchmark for satisfaction in your sector. Competition is not a bad thing, it is the key for delivery of value to consumers and if you understand that you can win in this environment.

Two good examples are my local RSL and the plumber that I use; in the last couple of years the State branch of the RSL has started selling merchandise for ANZAC Day throughout newsagents as has Woolworths on behalf of Legacy. The campaign by Woolworths ending up hurting them after intervention from the Department of Veterans Affairs and that was unfortunate. But what was the impact of this competition on a little Sub-Branch who relies on badge selling each year as their only source of income…

Well the immediate reaction was disappointment until I pointed out that competition is beneficial to a market and that if we improved our offer then we would actually benefit not be hurt by it. Our merchandising officer shared this sentiment and she bought a much wider range and our sales increased and have stayed up about 30% year on year.

The plumber that I use has established a competitive advantage for himself in what to many of us appears to be a carbon copy tradesmen industry. He only services the local area and only does emergency and repair work. He is not a jack-of-all-trades doing whatever work is offered to him, he doesn’t do builder installations or renovations, he only does repairs, he is always close by. Every customer knows that if he gets a call where an immediate response is required he will leave your job and attend to it. We all know that if we are in that emergency we can rely on him and that if he leaves a job he will be back shortly to complete it. The peace of mind knowing you have someone to depend on is his competitive advantage that we all appreciate.

There are many ways to create an advantage for yourself in the marketplace, great customer service is the starting point.

My Customers Don’t Get It

Conceptual illustration of a silhouette man seated on a question mark icon in a thinker pose deep in thought. Could be concept for any questioning or psychology, poetry or philosophy.We seem to see  videos, anecdotes and caricatures that at face value confirm our own particular paradigm of a political or other stereotype that we view the world through.  The funny thing is more often than not, the same examples are used by people on the other end of the spectrum to confirm the way they see the world.  In the business world this can set a dangerous precedence where our opinions can mean we miss opportunities to provide value to our customers and don’t close a sale!

 

I’ve seen this so many times it’s not funny and this particular video is no exception, the reason I have reproduced it here is a desire to look at a higher level of understanding at what is really going on and apply the lessons learnt in our approach to the way we see customers.

It popped up on my Facebook feed and the obvious comments made by most people related in general to a characterisation of the suspected voting habits of the individuals propositioned and even more disparagingly that they must be the “dumbest”people on earth. While there may be an obvious message at face value about peoples mental capacity, I believe that as business owners or salespeople we need to consider a higher level of understanding than that.

Have you been approached by a charity on the street seeking donations to their “worthy” cause, received phone calls telemarketing you at home or even more general, how much do you enjoy the commercial breaks on free to air TV?  There is a feeling of imposition at being propositioned and on a broader level even a fear of cold calls, the possibility of scams that abound in society today are a part of this but really, we do not like being “sold to”.  We are uncomfortable and have a healthy level scepticism, we are wary and suspicious of salespeople.

This is something very real to be aware of; the responsibility must lie with the vendor to articulate their “value” to consumers.   It is not going to accomplish very much if your default position is to view customers through your paradigm and blame them when they don’t see the value that you perceive as obvious  in your offer.    Understanding the dynamics of establishing a relationship and being able to hold a conversation that articulates or demonstrates your value will move you beyond a discussion of what is your price and into the position of trust, a desire to buy from and ongoing repeat sales opportunities.

The old saying about letting the cat out of the bag stems from this fear of salespeople stitching you up and seems to me to be the underlying conversation that is seen in the video. People will trust what they know unless you explain the value of something different to them!

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The background to where I found this and other interesting videos;  

Mark Dice is a media analyst and author who has been featured on the History Channel’s Decoded, Ancient Aliens, and America’s Book of Secrets; Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, Secret Societies of Hollywood on E! Channel, America Declassified on the Travel Channel, and is a frequent guest on Coast to Coast AM, The Alex Jones Show, and more. His viral videos have received more than 100 million views. For business inquiries & requests for licensing Mark’s content, email him though the “E-mail Mark” link on MarkDice.com.

In an entertaining and educational way, Mark exposes our celebrity obsessed culture and the role the mainstream media plays in shaping our lives. He is the author of several bestselling books on secret societies and conspiracies, including Inside the Illuminati and The Bohemian Grove: Facts & Fiction. Order his books in paperback from Amazon.com, or download the e-books right now from Kindle, iBooks, Nook, or Google Play.

And finally;

Some good follow ups on the higher level conversation from some of my friends that you may find useful..

Context for sure and reference of a silver bar is rare. Now try it with a gold bar and see result. Too many people simply don’t understand the economics of their choices and struggle to reference value. It would have been interesting if they tried an even dumber 3rd option to see if it changes the result. Thanks for sharing.

A few thoughts. An offer without context is generally a disadvantage to the seller. When the customer doesn’t understand what’s in it for you, they generally respond with skepticism. Here’s an example. If the meter has run out and I’m desperately in need of a quarter because the meter maid is at the end of the block, I might be willing to exchange a $5 bill for .25 to save myself a $40 ticket. In this case, a quarter is worth five bucks to me. If I explain that clearly to a passerby, they are more likely to help me out and see it as a good deal for themselves because they also see why I might be placing a higher value on the transaction. However if I just walk up to a random person and offer them 5bucks for a quarter, they are more likely to respond with skepticism because they can’t see a benefit to me in the arrangement. It has to be both a good deal to the buyer AND they have to see what’s in it for the seller, otherwise it is too good to be true. In this case a free 99cent item is more believable than something of greater value without the context. My guess is that if the guy explained that he was conducting an experiment to see which free item people prefer, more people would select the silver because now they know the motivation of the “seller”.

 

 

How German Reparations compares to Greek Bailouts

A friend comparing all final claims on German reparations from WWII being absolved in the final 1990 international accord after reunification started this conversation:

I feel it somewhat ironic that Germany can insist that Greece pays back its debt. The country defaulted three times in paying its debt and war repatriations in 1932, 1938 and 1948. Furthermore in January 1923 France and Belgium invaded the Ruhr to demand that Germany find the funds to pay its war debt. Helped lead to the rise of a certain Adolf Hitler!

Close up of flags of Germany and Greece

Who is Right Germany or Greece?

I don’t think that the stalling on Germany providing more bailout funds is because Greece hasn’t made payments; the conversation is all about how will Greece stop the haemorrhaging in it’s overspending and under collection of taxation revenue, a two-fold problem of it’s own creation. The Germans quite rightly don’t want to give more money if there is no prospect of any change in the conditions, which created the current crisis.

Very different consideration when making repayments to someone who has kindly lent you money to defaulting on reparations to right a wrong but you’re working hard on repairing your economy so that you can recover and then make payments.

Germany fixed it’s economy, so much so that even at the end of WWII it’s economic output was at the same levels as the start of the war and has continued from strength to strength today. A good example of getting the conditions right and perhaps worth the while of the Greeks to listen!

Given the correct analysis from you, but is it possible to fix the economy while in the Euro? Iceland bankers went back to fishing after their default.

I personally think that Greece being out of the Euro is the best way to fix their economy as they take back control over monetary policy.

Still a lot of pains involved as assets are lost to their creditors as part of the debt absolving in that scenario. Many people think that a default means that the debt if absolved and the world is good… There will be state securities in place that the creditors will take over and the Drachma once reinstated will be very weak. A weak drachma will be excellent for exports and tourism but will be very bad for investment in all domestic enterprise until confidence in the Greek government and new Greek bonds recovers. A huge risk however is hyperinflation and the potential requirement for humanitarian aid.

Perhaps most important of all either way is that sensible conversations take place that allow the Greek people to start electing good representatives that implement conditions to create incentive and reward for effort in their economy instead of populist policies designed only for their personal reelection.