Whilst we watch the newspaper industry being decimated, its tempting to attribute its demise to the recession and consequent decline in advertising revenue.
But such a widely held view misses the KEY point.
Look at the above chart, comparing ad revenue of US classified ads website Craigslist with ad revenue generated by traditional newspapers over the same period. Advertising revenue for newspapers has decreased (no shocks there) but look at the ad revenue for Craigslist since the recession hit in late 2007 – it has increased dramatically, demonstrating that capital does not disappear, it simply shifts to a more effective and efficient business model. It is estimated that the newspaper industry has suffered a $10bn hole in ad revenue in the last decade – Craigslist has clearly picked up much of this slack.
As well as being a game-changer for the newspaper industry, Craigslist is one of the Top 30 most visited websites in the world yet it has less than 30 employees.
Craigslist is an example of a new breed of flexible, lean, game-changing businesses that are capable of challenging traditional, established businesses – or even entire industries. No industry sector is safe. You should be considering now what game-changing business model could redefine your industry and either prepare to compete in the very near future or (ideally) start building it.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce Andrew Thorp as our guest on this week’s Business N2K podcast. Andrew is a business speaker and trainer focusing primarily on effective communication skills within business.
Andrew recently launched SpeakEasy within the North West and it is proving hugely popular amongst the local business community. SpeakEasy is a forum for business leaders and owners to get together in a supportive and informal environment to practise delivering their business message and obtain valuable feedback in the process. I was lucky enough to attend a recent SpeakEasy event in Manchester to experience the benefits first-hand – it was a great and enlightening experience.
In this conversation, Andrew shares some tips and learning points on effectively communicating your business benefits and message including:
It is said that a US survey identified public speaking as the No.1 Fear held by people (death was ranked as a lowly second!). Yet with practise and perseverance in an encouraging atmosphere like SpeakEasy, many more business people should be able to tackle this vitally important (life as well as) business skill with confidence.
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Please leave your comments, feedback and suggestions for future shows in the comments section below.
Credits: Thanks to Andrew Thorp for this week’s show + music used in the BusinessN2K podcast is by Viba – In the Orchard lies a Secret – available as a free download and is released under a Creative Commons Licence
Technology is evolving fast. It is changing everything – from home to the workplace. Although many businesses are wrestling with these changes, others are already seeing the benefits of collaborative working, knowledge sharing and real-time communication that technology advancements can bring. From my perspective, barely a month goes by without another game-changing possibility being introduced e.g. a new productivity, marketing, communication or some other channel or tool.
We are entering a New World of Work.
It is crazy to think that when I was at Uni (‘only in’ 1993-1996), we had to
When I started my professional training-contract at KPMG in 1997 I recall firing up my laptop with trepidation…. Microsoft Office was a new world that was set to become a staple part of my working day.
At home today, I am continually amazed by how naturally my 6 year old interacts with technology. It is an everyday norm for him. He is a Digital Kid. He can log into Club Penguin and other (protected) online gaming platforms without assistance. He uses the mouse tracker pad with ease and can find his way around the keyboard to interact with the gaming experience without fuss. He loves it and, here’s the interesting bit, it has without doubt accelerated his reading, questioning and strategic thinking abilities.
Although we keep tabs on the time he spends on the Mac Book playing online children’s games, ZX Spectrum gaming skills has nothing to do with it!).and Wii, I am relaxed about him getting to grips with technology at this early age as – let’s face it – an advanced competence in technology is going to be a key life skill for his generation (hey, this requirement is already pretty much here). Plus he enjoys it and learns in the process. A win-win. (the fact that it gives me a chance to indulge my old
But what happens in our schools today to reflect these changes? Not enough from my perspective so far. Although the blackboard has now become a whiteboard with overhead projector and there’s access to a computer room, the rest seems pretty archaic. Lining up to go in, sat on a mat being read to, practising joined up writing for hours on end etc. Meanwhile, there’s a national curriculum that appears to have been designed in the dark ages.
If our UK children are to excel in the 21st century New World of Work we need to seem some changes – and fast.
We need children who are encouraged to:
The future of UK (/global) enterprise and the world of work needs Innovators. Leaders. Entrepreneurs.
Our education system needs to reflect this. It is impossible to know what job(s) my 6 year old son will carry out over his lifetime (most roles probably do not as yet exist), however, it is important that we equip our kids with an inquisitive, curious and questioning mind; confidence in utilising latest technology and an overriding focus on thinking skills and developing new, creative ideas and work (rather than an education system based on regurgitating known facts as has been the norm over the 20th Century- all pretty useless in a Google and Wikipedia New World of Work).
And then there’s my 3 year old…
Postscript: I was at VentureFest 2010 in Yorkshire today and was pleased to see what appeared to be a great deal of involvement of local high schools in tech projects, exhibitions and competitions which is promising…
I was deeply saddened by the news that an ex-client of mine was placed into administration this week. A large multinational manufacturing business with over 200 UK employees based in Ellesmere Port. What makes this news particularly saddening is that the company was the best in the world at what it did – but there was a (known) problem…
It was part of a global group who were the world leaders in manufacturing newspaper print. It served a severely declining sector. What turned out to be the wrong sector.
I have another client who is the best in the world at providing sound equipment for film and music studios. They have a growing pipeline of orders as cinemas continue to evolve and grow their offerings, such as the recent 3D Avatar movie (for which they incidentally supplied the audio equipment). They had been through some tough times over the past 5-10 years when the movie industry was in the doldrums but now they are in the right sector at the right time (again).
All industry sectors have their peaks and troughs. Look at the dot.com boom and bust. Who would have thought the banks could have got themselves in such a state? We have neither the time nor the ability to gaze into crystall balls but we can:
There are disproportionate rewards for those businesses that can become best in the world in their sector. The trick is to remember that things never stay the same and that you must continually invest in seeking that next best in the world product or service. Reinvention. Always.
I am looking forward to finally meeting up with a long-standing client of mine this evening – a virtual client. Although we have worked together for almost 4 years, we have never met in the flesh as he is based in Los Angeles, US.
Yet technology has allowed us to work closely over the years despite the significant distance between the UK and US and its getting easier and easier. We rely heavily on email and telephone on a day-to-day basis but screensharing, shared online workspaces and Google Wave-type continual contact are on the horizon. He works largely from home and I try to work from home on regular occasions yet this doesn’t impede our flow of communication due to improving broadband speeds.
Virtual / Global / Cloud consulting – whatever you wish to call it – is becoming an exciting reality.
But how powerful and long-lasting can virtual relationships be? Lisa Tse discussed the importance of bridging the gap to turn virtual communities into real-life flesh and blood communities – via TweetUps for her Twitter followers and friends in her case. This has been immensely powerful for her business in building sustainable and long lasting relationships. Geography can be a significant stumbling block but meeting for real can really cement a relationship – I hope the same will be true of tonight’s real-life meeting!
The only issue is how I will find him at the restaurant in Manchester this evening – having never previously met in the flesh, it’s slightly concerning that we won’t initially recognise each other! Until we speak and I hear his (familiar telephone) voice.
Lisa is famed more recently for her appearance on Gordon Ramsey‘s The F-Word, in which her family-run restaurant Sweet Mandarin won the prestigious Best Local Chinese Restaurant in the UK. Aside from the wonderful cooking, Lisa and her sisters have broken new ground in mixing new marketing techniques to help build a traditional yet thriving business. Her forward thinking approach to business and creativity has led to her role as an alumni of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and she is in high demand to speak at business conferences throughout the North West and beyond.
I first ‘met’ Lisa on Twitter after being bowled over by how much she ‘gets’ social media – TweetUps and all! Her business has continued to thrive as they have steadily built their community of enthusiastic customers. Lisa has a refreshing outlook on business, having worked as a financier in London (a ‘corporate job’) and made the leap to running her own entrepreneurial business. She is focused on making every experience the best for her customers in order to build the restaurant and leave a legacy – rather than focusing on building a chain of restaurants which could result in growth for growth’s sake.
In this conversation we cover:
The Sweet Mandarin represents a new breed of entrepreneurial business that is closely intertwined with its customers. Lisa and her sisters are the ‘face’ of the business and they actively engage with their customers and the wider Manchester business community. They manage to mix more traditional and established business (restaurateurs) with new (social media, community engaged, transparent, forward thinking).
I firmly believe that we can all learn as businesses from Lisa, her sisters and Sweet Mandarin.
How you can listen to BusinessN2K:
Please leave your comments, feedback and suggestions for future shows in the comments section below.
Credits: Thanks to Lisa Tse for this week’s show + music used in the BusinessN2K podcast is by Viba – In the Orchard lies a Secret – available as a free download and is released under a Creative Commons Licence
Welcome news if you’re a start-up business in Ireland is that a tax holiday is now granted for the first 3 years of trading.
This tax exemption is only available for start-ups that commenced trading on or after 1 January 2009. The only restriction is that the tax liability otherwise due for each year must not exceed €40,000 – hardly troubling for most start-up companies given that the current prevailing corporation tax rate in Ireland is only 12.5%!
Let’s hope that the UK government are keeping a watching brief…
Aim for (at least) 6 mistakes every day this week.
It seems reasonable to assume that targeting your business at the middle is a safe bet. After all, the middle comprises the majority of customers. Right?
Perhaps – but there is a nasty sting in the tail for the unwary…
The middle is big. Very BIG. The middle provides the most choice for customers. The middle is the most competitive. The middle is the noisiest. The middle makes it harder for you to appear bespoke – you are trying to serve too many in the middle. The middle is where the high street and big internet brands hunt (and they have deeper pockets than you). The middle ignores the genius of the 80/20 rule.
Those in the middle normally struggle. The middle is tough. The middle is the hardest work. The middle needs a lot of marketing (and therefore cash). Those in the middle have to struggle in good times and bad.
Many business owners spot this and set off on the right path i.e top or bottom but a little farther down the line they can’t seem to help themselves from gravitating towards the middle. They lose their nerve. Particularly in especially good or bad economic times (like now). But why?
Despite the recent recession, many prestige businesses continue to do well. This is because the world is still full of very wealthy individuals who can ride this dip out quite comfortably – and want somewhere to shop or service their needs in the meantime. My local Selfridges in Manchester still looked pretty packed over the recent Christmas rush, particularly around the new Tiffany concession store.
Meanwhile, businesses that had raised their sights during the recent good times will be wishing they had stayed as bargain-basement £1 shops. But it may be too late. Those that held their nerve have first-mover-advantage and will deservedly reap the rewards – our local 50p shop is busier than ever (for obvious reasons) but it didn’t start being a 50p shop in the last 12 months. It stayed as a 50p shop when there was plenty of cash credit swishing around over the past 10 years. It never lost its focus. It never lost its nerve. It never became middle. It deserves to win.
Being middle is a mistake. Aim high or aim low. Either way, hold your nerve and never ever be middle.
Picture credit: Paul Watson