Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: It is costly to conduct consumer research on a regular basis. Is there an alternative cost-effective approach to knowing where the market will be heading next?
It’s far more interesting to know what your customers actually do than knowing what they might do. For example, if you ask a regular person on the street, “What will you spend your next salary on?” You will hear answers like “I’m paying my monthly bills and commitments”, “I’m paying back my credit card”, or “I’m saving it for a trip”, just to name a few possibilities. However, if we become flies on their walls we might witness completely different behaviors when their salaries are released and cash is in their hands. Being connected to customers’ actual behaviors to gage interest, direction, and pattern, in order to plan ahead and anticipate future needs and wants accurately is a more effective and efficient methodology for any business.
By using keyword searches and certain algorithms, the Bank of England has been harvesting insights while protecting the anonymity of the public from the responsible teams to understand the economy from the view of individuals rather than the old ways of forms filled in by businesses. Use available data to generate readings that give you better product stock management, that inspires better service innovations and/or alterations for more delightful customer experiences, which by default will lead to more spending from existing customers and more acquisitions of new customers and that translates to much bigger profit. Gathering online data creatively is a way to save money and/or to validate the results from the traditional research channels, if you decide to use them in the first place…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: I attended a presentation for a guest speaker at a local private university who was against the notion of being a small entrepreneur, claiming that real financial success comes only from setting up big corporations. Is this true?
If large corporations were as successful and profitable as this speaker claims, why did many governments bail them out during the great recession in 2009? Small and medium sized businesses are the true foundation of economies worldwide. And most of these global conglomerates began at some point as a humble startup; and I believe we all know the story of how Apple kicked off. What matters is how each entrepreneur defines his/her own version of commercial success. For some it could be in the form of a giant corporation, while others prefer the notion of being intentionally micro so they can move and adapt faster to economic and lifestyle changes. Each path has its own obstacles and only by figuring out your own journey can you decide which one is for you.
Imagine if I advise some university students to invest in collectively purchasing petrol from oil companies and storing it in underground facilities, because sooner or later oil will be depleted and their stock will generate a larger return on investment for their families. While a few might listen to such nonsense and think, “This advice is priceless” – actually, it’s worthless because it’s not commercially viable – you need to first consider the credentials of the speaker before taking his/her words as the Ten Commandments. As the law says, “Buyers beware”, I would say, “Audience beware.” Since the start of the Information Age, we’ve been overloaded with books, speakers, articles, and insights from every server on the planet. The source of the information is the ultimate judging tool of quality…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: After ten weeks, I was let go from my new job because management realized that they just wanted a different person with a different set of skills. How can companies get away with such irresponsible conduct?
Most managers do not master the art of the job interview. They don’t know how to articulate their needs, ask the right questions, focus on what matters, set expectations, or give the right impression to candidates. I’ve been told horrific stories about employers during interviews being too busy trying to dominate and show off their ultra supreme business skills, thinking that it is the way to gain the candidates’ respect in case they’re hired. Others just have major ego problems and want to play the Alpha male/female game while candidates are losing interest by the minute. Human Resources can’t offer much help either because they either follow classic sets of questions that are archaic and do not reflect the decade we live in, or are simply not empowered to make a significant change to the quality of the interviewing process.
Employees also take part of the blame. You can’t afford to jump ship frequently. It’s not good for your career. When you’re evaluating an opportunity, dig deeper to know what the job is about, what value you can add, what your employer’s understanding of value is for that job, and how this move affects your growing expertise. What was missing from your case was a combination of both parties not setting nor addressing any expectations during the job interview. The probation period might be legal, but it’s dangerous because it encourages hasty hiring…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.