The year 2011 has just slipped by and we are saying hello to 2012 today. The last year threw up a number of challenges for businesses in the face of which some survived and others failed while a few floundered and just managed to stay afloat. Undoubtedly, 2012 brings along its own set of prospects and challenges. Here is my take on what you need to drive business success in 2012…
The economic crises that swept across Europe and America in 2011 made us all sit up and take notice. It rocked the boats of many an entrepreneur but it also gave people a look at what people can achieve through perseverance.
The economic woes in Greece made waves and stories of the cash crisis made people worry about how they would manage to stay afloat some entrepreneurs in Greece saw opportunity in this problem of immense magnitude and developed their own systems of cashless transactions.
People were able to offer services in exchange for groceries and other products while making use of cashless instruments to purchase goods across the counter. A lesson in perseverance and something you will definitely need to learn from as you take on business challenges in 2012.
Inventiveness not invention is my mantra for success in the year 2012. Innovative products are crucial for business success and I’m not saying that innovation isn’t important any more. However, observation and common senses have proved beyond doubt that one needs to be inventive…work one’s way around to succeed in business.
Here’s an example…running a social enterprise which supports small and marginal farmers in India is not an easy task even when you have an innovative product like single flora honey like Under The Mango Tree does. Apart from the fact that Vijaya Pastala, the lady behind this venture is a dear friend and an inspiration, I have always been struck by her inventiveness.
Not once has Vijaya let lack of a big advertising and promotional budget deter her. She’s used Facebook, built a blog and a website, made her presence felt at up market events like the Upper Crust Show and is always ready to listen to ideas no matter how bizarre they are!
Trust me, I’m a commerce teacher and I know what I’m talking about when I endorse barter as the way to do business in 2012. Reason being I’ve been able to turn blogger based on this very principle. My blog is the product of barter…creating content for other business blogs in return for which my fellow bloggers and mentors have helped me with the technicalities of blog building.
That apart…barter is what will help you as a resort owner who is hard pressed for cash to get artists to create works of art for you in return for a free stay at your resort, free photography sessions for a music teacher will get you free music lessons for your child and business referrals…basically barter will help you network and find resources creatively while keeping cash woes at bay.
I’ve done a whole blog post on the simple things that one can do to build a big brand and I am a sucker for simplicity in everything be it life or business. Most times businesses fail because they tend to complicate things. How many times do you go to a store to buy something and are told they don’t have a swiping machine? Doesn’t that put you off completely?
Well simplification means giving people lots more options…customization, door delivery, online purchases, online payment facility, cash on delivery…just small things that you can do to make buying easy for your customers.
One of the most common reasons for businesses failing or actually never really taking off is the lack of following up on ideas by entrepreneurs. Most people I know have lots of ideas, quite a few of which are good and implementable but don’t really see the light of the day as the people who have the ideas never really bother about following through.
Let me talk about my own experience in this regard. I have a number of creative pursuits that keep me busy and for some time now I have tried to train women in embroidery and crochet to set up a venture that would partner with small, marginalized groups of women and rag pickers and produce stylish and affordable products.
For the past three months I have tried to get women to train in these skills while offering them inputs and material to create products. For most of this time I have faced nothing but reticence on the part of whomsoever I have approached. People promise to come and learn but never turn up, loose interest or say it’s too much work.
My idea remains, by dream to make a difference to marginalized sections of society while promoting handicrafts is intact but I am unable to follow through simple because I cannot find people to partner with.
In the end I would say, 2012, brings us hopes, challenges and prospects in very sphere of life. Setting up a business or keeping one running and profitable will by no means be easy. I hope my take on things to come will put things in proper perspective for all you business owners out there. Stay safe, happy, focused and inventive to 2012!