My last blog of 2011 was about turning over the captain’s chair to my staff while I took a 3 week vacation. A real vacation at that, not glued to my e-mail or solving problems from afar. I let them sail the ship and I relaxed. It was a welcome change.
If you have an experienced team, the captain is only needed when you hit rough water. Steering the ship through a crisis is a learned skill set, sharpened by experience. Whether we have fallen into a leadership position, got forced into taking the helm or arrived at it by design, the short strokes are that every ship needs a captain and every project needs a champion. Why? Because there are always storms to navigate and only one person can make that decision. No two people are likely to approach the same set of circumstances in the same manner. As my older brother likes to say, “There are lots of right answers”.
When I started my business 24 years ago, my older brother’s advice was… don’t do it. He had been in business for a decade already and knew the perils I would face. I believe it was something I was meant to do and as I may have stated before, being overly optimistic and somewhat naive are fundamental qualities of being in business for yourself.
I’ve seen a lot of businesses fail. Solid companies with hard working owners – most spent too much money on the wrong things at the wrong time. Many fell behind with tax remittances. Some coasted when they should have forged ahead. Some forged ahead only to have a dramatic shift in technology or market conditions do them in. I feel very fortunate that my business is solid as we march into 2012.
For anyone thinking of starting their own business or are in business already and questioning their direction, here are 5 tips that people have shared with me and I know to be true:
Lee’s quote for the day
Sainsbury’s is the third largest chain of supermarkets in the UK. In June of 2011, a 3 1/2 year old girl called Lily Robinson wrote a letter (with the help of her mom) to the supermarket chain posing a simple question. Why a certain type of bread sold by the chain is called “Tiger Bread” when it really has the markings of a “Giraffe”?
How Sainsbury responded, is a textbook example of how other companies should handle customer service. The response isn’t dry, and stock. It’s a personalized response to the little girl, that uses language a three year old can understand. Also attached was a £3 (almost $5) gift card – enough to buy the bread and some sweets.
Lily’s mom posted the original response letter on her blog site, and though the response received some attention from blog sites, Twitter and Facebook, it really went viral of January of this year. The letter has been “Liked” nearly 150,000 times, and shared nearly 50,000 times on Facebook, and it’s been commented on thousands of times.
This simple act, of Sainsbury’s responding to a little girl, has generated a massive amount of publicity that would have otherwise cost thousands upon thousands of dollars for the company. Companies should not be afraid to embrace social media. A well laid out social media strategy will be a benefit to your company.
In the trucking industry for example, each major social media platform has its suitable uses. Facebook for example, is a great place for hiring drivers, as well as building company culture around your employees and your brand. LinkedIn is a great way to generate leads as well as network. Canadian carriers are under-utilizing social media, and it’s time for them to, get on board.