March 5, 2010

By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager

Jacki Hart"You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” Albert Einstein.

This is a bold time for business owners in all industries. Changes in technology, consumer attitudes and value propositions are happening at breakneck speed. They are combining to rapidly re-define the business model, and leaving most confused as to why what once worked, doesn’t anymore.

Gone are the days when a business owner could use brute determination and hard work to create success for his/her business, using blind faith to lead a team. Businesses must emerge from the what’s-in-it-for-me era and dive into a collaborative what’s-in-it-for-us mindset with everything they do. Employees have and will continue to place high value on exchanges with their employer that reach far beyond money. Engagement is everything to right fit employees – now more than ever. They want to be included in solving problems, creating systems and gaining praise directly from your consumers. They need to feel important, valued and included.

The way in which people engage with each other in business is rapidly becoming more important to success. Equally important as positive engagement at all levels in a company, is eliminating negativity, blame and judgment. If you step back and reflect on how strongly negativity infected your team in the past year, I know you will realize that wrong fit employees or wrong fit systems have had an exponential impact on your business, relative to past experience. This trend is here to stay.

The message from this trend is clear: during this economic shift, everyone has a heightened sensitivity to what’s going on around them, and this includes your customers. It is making most people unsure, and in need of unprecedented amounts of information in order to make decisions and to understand the value exchange in any given transaction. Consumers are buying differently. So you have to sell, package and market differently.

For example, reflect for a moment on the following statements:

  • Consumers are more sophisticated than at any time in the past
  • Consumers have unprecedented instantaneous access to information
  • Consumers have become highly informed about their intention to engage services and the reputation of businesses with whom they engage
  • They want authentic experiences which make them feel good about their decision
  • They buy what benefits their higher aspirations (environmental, social, economic)
  • They define value on multi-levels (environmental, social, economic)
  • They need to collaborate with you during the process of service delivery or product selection.

In order for business owners and frontline managers to deliver on these renewed consumer expectations, collaboration is necessary. That includes subtrades, fringe trades, referral sources, suppliers, employees, consultants, your customers, etc. The days are gone when the boss could do it all, run everyone, everything and stay ahead of exceeding customer expectations, while turning a profit.
In order to start navigating your way through this time of rapid change, here’s my short list of advice:

  • Clarify what you have to offer – to yourself, your team, your customers.
  • Make a CLEAR, bold statement about who you are (your core values), what you stand for (your business purpose) and where you are going (your business/team vision).
  • Communicate in every way you can
  • Align your business interest with the authentic interest of your customers, suppliers, employees and your community – banish wrong fits
  • Don’t focus on what everyone else is or isn’t doing. It is counter-productive and keeps you stuck. The more you spend energy on worrying about it, the less energy you have to spend on moving forward and attracting the right fit people to you – customers, suppliers, trades, etc.

Focus on being authentic, positive and collaborative. The new way of doing business is here. If you don’t adapt and innovate, it will be a challenging time for your business.

The Prosperity Partners program has you covered – starting with the Build Your Prosperity seminar, and on through the Best Practices and Round Table Solutions seminars, we are here to teach and nudge you to think differently about your business and your future. Join hundreds of your business peers who have stepped into this innovative, helpful pool of resources. We are here to guide you on your journey to success.

Go to to see seminar offerings across the province. Check out the Prosperity Forum:

Jacki Hart may be reached at