From an article Ray wrote recently for Smarter Business Ideas:
We all know that death and taxes are certainties in life, but when you’re in business there’s another certainty – constantly changing regulations. And that trend is likely to continue regardless of who wins the next election.
Michael Derin, managing director of Sydney-based accountancy firm Azure Group, says businesses “don’t know whether they’re Arthur or Martha” as they try to keep up with changes to key areas such as tax rules, HR guidelines, privacy and workplace safety.
“Businesses today need to engage more actively with their accountants and specialist lawyers and business advisers – but, of course, all of that comes at a cost,” Derin observes.
The constant flow of regulatory changes makes it harder for businesses to plan and budget, too. “For years we said that when you wanted to budget for a new staff member, you just add 22 per cent for on-costs. You simply can’t do that now, it’s a movable feast,” says Lawrence Potter, a director of Incite Management Group business consultants.
There have been changes across a lot of areas, so it’s no surprise that many business owners may be unaware of some of the rule changes that affect them.
As Sydney-based workplace safety consultant Gaye Cameron points out, “The biggest problem, particularly for small businesses, is ‘not knowing the knowing’. They may have no idea that they are in breach of new rules.”
So to help keep you in the loop, here’s a heads-up on recently enacted legislation (including some that haven’t come into effect yet) and what you need to look out for.
One of the most amusing (and at the same time sad) Twitter accounts I follow is@humblebrag. It retweets posts from Twitter users which are meant to be self-deprecating, but which actually scream “Aren’t I wonderful?”
The posts range from thinly-veiled personal self-aggrandisement…
“Stories are everywhere that I’m too thin. When will the media see women for their accomplishments instead of their weight and appearance?”
“If one more person asks to ‘take pictures of me’ I’m going to kill someone.”
“I gave my noodle store leftovers to a homeless lady and now I regret it so much”
“As if I didn’t feel uncomfortable enough, the ticket taker said ‘musclessss’ as I handed him my ticket”
…to tweets painfully aimed at enhancing their corporate notoriety…
“The president just called to say congrats. Caller ID was blocked, so at first I thought it was a telemarketer.”
“Way too much of my life is spent on airplanes.”
“Very humbled to be selected for TIME 100 this year! Had a nice evening at their gala, but their standards must be slipping now that they’re letting geeks like me in!” (This one was accompanied by a photo of a hipster- ish man standing on the red carpet with his supermodel girlfriend)
“ARRRRRGH FML. Now I’ve got a justin bieber shoot i can’t do because i’m already shooting: what’s with these clashes? Grrr”
“Look, I know he invented the damn thing. But it freaks me out when I see Zuckerberg posts on my Facebook wall.”
“CNN interview went great! Once again, over-prepared but smarter for it I suppose.”
There are plenty more where these came from – bring your sick bag!
A little ego is fine, but the problem is, too many people think that ‘humble bragging’ is a good way to build a social media profile for their business. The existence of tongue in cheek satirists like @humblebrag shows that people don’t respond to that approach. It’s important to be authentic in your dealings with people, especially if you’re in small business.
US marketing expert Jonathan Salem Baskin, who has just co-authored a book on the importance of truth in advertising and marketing (now there’s an oxymoron!), says that customers today are looking for truth from the companies they do business with.
Hands up – who’s excited by the expansion of commercial television into new digital TV stations? Hmmm, as I suspected, not many hands….
I’m still struggling to understand the business model behind digital TV: It seems to be cannibalising your own audience and that of your direct competitors by broadcasting long-forgotten or obscure TV shows.
However, there is one good thing about digital TV; It’s introduced a whole new generation to the shows their parents wasted their time on when they were young.
One of my favourite shows growing up was Gilligan’s Island, the tale of a fateful group of castaways whose three-hour boat tour around Honolulu turned into a shipwrecked adventure that lasted for what seemed decades but was, in fact, three seasons.
Although the plotlines were as shallow as the island’s lagoon, when I watch the old episodes again after all these years, I can see some parallels, strangely enough, to modern-day business. For example, here are five lessons from Gilligan’s Island that can be applied to Internet marketing.
Gilligan’s Island is full of archetypes – the gruff but lovable captain, his bumbling but well-meaning first mate, the unreconstructed capitalist couple, the geek, the glamourous woman and the girl next door.
You might love them or you might hate them, but you know what to expect from each of the archetypal characters in every episode. Gilligan is not going to behave like an intellectual, and Thurston Howell III is not going to become a tree-hugger; they all act in a way every week that matches their distinct character.
Online, as well as in traditional marketing, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors, by presenting your own distinct proposition to customers. And you need to consistently deliver that proposition, whether it’s your focus on customer service, your playful humour, or even the style and colour of your logo.
Just as the Professor improved the lives of people on the island by developing coconut telephones, a bicycle-powered radio and a hot water system, you need to be prepared to continually seek out new ways of doing things. Today, that means making sure everything you do is mobile-optimised; think of how your customers want to interact with your business out of home and develop your online offering accordingly.