Four Trends I've Observed Over The Last 20 years
The world is changing drastically and business is following suit—finally. My business is all about supporting female entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be productive, professional, and prosperous. The Hera Hub community and private discussion forums are always buzzing with questions, trends, and diverse perspectives on startups, business, and entrepreneurship. This engagement from our community of 300 entrepreneurs causes me to keep my finger on the business world’s pulse. I am privy to my colleagues’ and members’ struggles, triumphs, frustrations, and dilemmas and am always trying to find resources and support to rectify whatever dilemma they are working to solve. My continual research, connections, and business development have allowed me to witness some interesting transitions and trends in the business world – trends that are redefining what it means to run/how we conduct business. While there’s an ever-growing list of innovations and new trends, I want to share four that I know are a reoccurring theme business and our world:
4 Ways Business Is Changing
1. We share versus I own.
The shared economy has created a new business model and rightly so. The force and ideas behind Smart Cars, Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, and co-working spaces have redefined ownership and encourage us to question its need. The shared economy causes us to re-examine and question our reliance on big ticket purchases, providing a different solution modeled around lending, sharing, or borrowing resources. There are a lot of catalysts that have spurred the era of collaborative consumption; perhaps the most interesting theory was the economic crisis. After 2008, purchasing a car, residence, or vacation home no longer a guaranteed part of the game called Life. Material things once deemed almost a necessity are now considered a luxury as Airbnb co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk and author of The Mesh (a book about the sharing economy), Lisa Gansky share with NPR: “When the crisis hit there were people in desperate need of alternative solutions, we were one of those solutions.” (Blecharczyk). Gansky supports the notion that the crash inspired the shared economy, “the financial crisis helped make this cultural shift possible. The stress of the Great Recession allowed millions of Americans to see the waste and the excess in their own lives more clearly. And this financial stress pushed many to try to use assets that usually just sat fallow.” The concept and business model centered around sharing in lieu of ownership is something novel and I’m excited to be in the thick of it.
2. Open Door vs. Closed
I always envision that when big businesses and its leadership make decisions it is done in an ivory tower secured by armed forces– only a finger print scan would enable you entry to such a proprietary meeting of the minds. While organizations (especially publicly traded) businesses still maintain confidentiality, software, information, and technologies are modeling after the new workforce: innovative, flat, and shared. The way we store and share information no longer requires advanced key codes and armed guards through open-source software and the cloud, everyone’s data and information is easily accessible, modified, and shared. Social media has even mandated that the most buttoned up organizations open a transparent dialogue with the public. Complaints, public distrust, and organizational changes now have to be shared rather than kept secret, forcing businesses to operate openly.
3. Manipulation to Negotiation
I spent a significant portion of my early adulthood in sales in the riveting field of orthodontics and then office furniture. It was important that I always exhibit a high level of integrity, placing my customer’s needs above my quota. It was my relationships and honesty that allowed my spirits, sales, and commission to remain high. I don’t get all the credit in this; I also worked for a company that didn’t shove numbers down my throat by utilizing fear tactics and micromanaging to make sure I made my numbers. I know a lot of other organizations, employees, and in turn, customers that aren’t as lucky. Some companies project their sales associate’s numbers for everyone to see (and judge) much to the chagrin of its talent pool. I am amazed by sales tactics that employ psychology to manipulate people into purchasing their product or use their services. I’m happy to see that there is a different conversation taking place. Peer reviewed forums like Yelp! broadcast pushy sales practices and forceful manipulation to potential customers. Now more than ever, buyers are guided by testimonials from other businesses, customers, and owners before they decide hire a consultant or purchase a product. I often hear conversations that sound like “What can we do together?” or “What are your needs?” Say hello to the sales & business development conversation- “How can I serve you?” versus BUY FROM ME.
4. Collaboration & Support vs. Competition (because in business, it really isn’t all about you).
As an avid networker, I often frequent and host events around San Diego and Orange County. I was busy connecting with entrepreneurs, trying to offer solutions and resources when needed. My first question is “How can I support you?” This always leads to an open and honest discussion, allowing me and my partner in conversation to offer help and build an organic relationship instead of a quick and inauthentic sales lead. A few months ago at a networking event, I shook hands with a real estate agent. Our conversation lasted 30 seconds as I was pulled away to meet someone. After an hour, I had to leave and the real estate agent ran up to me with a business card and blurted out, “If you know anyone buying or selling a house, send them my way!” What? I don't know you, let alone your business practices. How and why would I refer someone making a huge life decision work to someone I don’t know simply because you shoved a business card in my face? I love seeing how a service-oriented approach is changing what networking looks like. I am always urging my members to form strategic alliances with other business owners and organizations, even with people who are your competitors. Perhaps you have a project that could use some extra hands or you met a great client but you’re not exactly the right fit for them–both excellent uses of strategic alliances.
I’m excited to see how the world is changing and how business is molding itself into a modern reflection of the times we live in.
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