I wish you a prosperous New Year with this distillation of business tips–the result of years of reporting for BedTimes and many conversations with bedding industry insiders.
1 – BE SCARED
Business optimism abounds, but a good dose of market paranoia is a healthy thing. If you’re not feeling threatened by the usual competition and, more importantly, by the unknown, you need to be. After all, it’s the unknown that will kick your behind. (I mean, really, where did all of this e-commerce bedding stuff come from? Did anyone predict that!?)
2 – MAKE PLANS
Forget about five-year plans and two-year plans, what’s this year’s plan? It’s not enough to have a Plan B, you need a Plan C. What if such-and-such happens? With new technology and changes in distribution channels constantly shifting the industry landscape, you need to image and plan for all of your what-if scenarios.
3 – IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR PEOPLE, PERIOD
Your competitors have access to the same basic resources; the differentiator is people. Internally, surround yourself with those who share your vision and can executive in tough times. Everyone needs to be focused on the customer–not on each other–and we’re not just talking about customer-facing employees, even your internal people need to be customer-focused. Everyone in your company should consider themselves “in sales” because a culture of flexible, customer-focused employees is one that supports profits and growth.
4 – BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
The March 2017 BedTimes cover story will tell you how to do this. But, here’s an advance tip: Thoroughly exploit your suppliers’ expertise to take your product innovation to the next level. They are experts in their product areas and can help you take existing materials and use the in new and innovative ways. You don’t need–or want–to reinvent the wheel But by working with your suppliers, you can find new ways to integrate pleasing or functional improvements into your company’s proven designs.
5 – FOCUS ON FACETIME
In a time of digital communication when we send tons of emails and are are on our smartphones constantly, in-person meetings can fall by the wayside. Know that face-to-face communication is not out of style and that there is no substitute for building connections, partnerships and relationships. Make the time for more of it. See your customers in person, regularly.
6 – KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Certainly, keep an eye on the competition and be prepared, but don’t be your own biggest enemy by trying to do everything the competition does. Do what you do and do it well.
7 – CREATE A SCHEDULE–FOR YOURSELF
Formally prioritize your time by creating a calendar several weeks or several months out and stick to it. Carve out time for thinking and innovation. Respect the time it takes to innovate.