Last Thursday (7/19/12), I was invited to speak as a local leader at DexOne‘s Local Leader’s Forum here in Portland. I was honored to be on the stage with Shannon Pratuch, Liz Strauss, Terry Starbucker, Steve Strauss, Erin McDonough, and Barry Moltz.
We talked about a range of things, from Social Media to building an engaged community to the big challenges of local businesses. The panel I was on covered a lot of topics and my colleagues shared a lot of brilliance that I can’t remember because I was actually on the panel. Luckily, a handy twitter search reveals the highlights of what I talked about, and I wanted to share some of it with you:
Set up tomorrow’s leaders, invest in people.
Small businesses tend to be stuck in today, which really means they’re working on yesterday’s business. The only way forward is to invest in the people who’ll be running tomorrow’s business.
Become a permanent character in your customer’s story. Continue to reinforce your story with your customer through touch points. Be human. Be your quirky self in a way that’s valuable to your customer. Be there before your customers know they have a problem.
In my mind, branding is all about becoming a permanent character in your customer’s story, and to do so, you’ve got to be remarkable, consistent, and human.
Prioritize your challenges, one at a time.
You can’t fix everything all at once, and why work on the stuff that isn’t important at the cost of more important concerns?
Knowledge Bombs from the Other Presenters
The other presenters were dropping their own insights, too, and I’d be remiss not to share some of theirs, too:
The amount of trust has to match the ask. – Liz Strauss
All too often, we ask people for something before we’ve established sufficient trust. So, instead of focusing on the ask, focus on the trust. Those are 9 powerful words, my friends.
Build your network before you need it and start with the people who love you. – Liz Strauss
I once remember Chris Brogan talking about why Trust Agents was so successful. In summary, it was that he spent ten years without asking for much and then asked for people to buy and promote the book. They did. Why? Because he built it long before he needed it with the people who loved him.
Too much money in your business makes you stupid. – Barry Moltz
Among many reasons that it makes you stupid is because it gives you the confidence not to work on the core processes you need to build and run the business. If or when things turn south, you don’t know how to deal with it.
Revenge of Small Business
We’re seeing a surge in small business and a backlash against bigger businesses. Bigger businesses are trying to be small and human, but there’s a difference in trying to be small and human and being small and human.
As I mentioned in An Open Letter to Small Business Owners, though, we win by taking the art and science of business while still playing our game.
So, list out your big issues. Prioritize them. Work on the first until it’s done, then the second, and so on.
And, lastly, thank you for being in business.