The Non-Financial Side of Business

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The Non-Financial Side of Business
A call with an industry colleague last week set in motion, thoughts on how we measure individual or business success.
As a kid growing up in India in the 80’s, studies used to be quite a tricky part of life. Studying history, for instance. We had a ton of dates to remember, and it somehow never made sense. The pointlessness of remembering precise dates of events ranging from a few decades to a few centuries gone by. Instead of, perhaps evaluating people gone by, on the basis of their actions, or the sum of their actions. Perhaps we would have learnt more about values. About actions and consequences. But they would not have it any other way. Events and dates of their occurrence was clearly more important to them.
Then came interesting subjects like physics, and a few deeper questions around it. [Link]
Subsequently, there was the ’Must. Read. Newspapers’ phase. Not just that, I guess people also expected you to remember current events. For someone who is not a keen quiz player, I felt it was pointless beyond just having a fair sense of what was happening. Somewhere I believed storing irrelevant information wouldn’t really matter someday.
Then, thankfully, the internet came to our rescue.
In my adult life, all around, businesses seem obsessed with numbers. Financials. Be it sales and profitability, or costs, or more complicated ones. Cost of acquiring a customer. Shopping cart abandonment. Customer churn rate. Average profit per visitor or Product conversion rate. Among others.
The world became, and continues to be increasingly obsessed with numbers and ratios. And that’s all most businesses focus on. The employee or customer can be at the receiving end of the bare minimum that a tight-margin allowance to appease a ratio will allow. But not more.
The day machines take over a business function, efficiency will jump up dramatically, as will profitability.
But where would that leave us? Put differently, have we always been missing a bigger point?
What will matter when machines take over (finally!), is what customers really want. Because then we won’t be obsessing over the numbers. Hopefully not at least.
And hopefully then, we’ll start to see that it is not a numbers game. That business is about relevance. If it’s useful or good, they will buy. If a process is well designed as per them, they will use it.
Numbers, as I’ve always held, are an incidental, intermittent aftereffect of a non-numerical, ongoing end-user pleasing process.
I’m not saying that top and bottom lines and all those in-between are irrelevant. Sure they help as indicators. But they perhaps help more when we are doing the more important job. Of ensuring the main objective of our business is met. Once you focus on the non-financial aspects that really run your business, you’ll see how the financials catch up. Automatically!

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Seasons Greetings Y’all.!

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Seasons Greetings Y’all.!

Compared to businesses abroad, companies in India have been notorious for having too many public/festival holidays. And employees, of course, have always been grumbling about not having enough.

There are numerous and diverse religions and cultures here. And its our collectively celebrating festivals is what makes Indian culture unique and rich in itself.

Now since most Indians would give priority to celebrating festivals of their own religion… (just a thought)… imagine a scenario where you, as an employee had the option of working on a holiday that you normally would not celebrate, but just sit around watching tv at home, and in turn would get the choice of taking another day off in that year.

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Sure there might be hiccups initially, like not having a common holiday as your friends do, and so on. I also wouldn’t want to incur the wrath of anyone’s angry spouse. If they were home on a festival holiday that is (that you both don’t celebrate), but you tried to be smart and chose to work instead of shopping.

But in the bigger scheme of things, imagine the positive impact it will have on businesses and profitability in companies. While the number of holidays available to employees will not change, businesses, especially B2C ones will be available to customers on a larger number of days. And anyone who has gone to work on a weekend will agree that you tend to get way more work done with fewer distractions. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice weekends. No one deserves to work on weekends. Except start-ups, maybe.

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Sell Blankets to Eskimos

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Sell Blankets to Eskimos

This post requires you to think a bit. Might be difficult on a Friday night, but do give it a thought over the weekend.

We all know how challenging the life of a salesperson can be. Unrealistic sales targets, unwelcoming prospective customers, unending follow-up calls and meetings. And then demoralizing posters outside offices and the crushing pressure of time as end of the month approaches. Not to mention clients who like the thrill of being pursued by multiple businesses.

Salesperson 3

image: glasbergen

And if all that was not bad enough, there are the trials of making it through the day with erratic food timings. I have spent a grueling stint in a Marketing role, and while I had the luxury of driving for meetings, lunches were more like a mirage in the desert. I always had 6-7 bottles of water stacked up, and that usually kept me going. From skipping lunch to spending time explaining a concept to a prospective client, to pecking at food at god-forsaken eateries, to the thrill of eating after a chain of hopeful meetings.

The internet connection at home was down recently. Finally when the engineer showed up, it turned out that the re-configuring would take about an hour. There was a big mug of tea waiting for me, so I offered the engineer some. He declined, saying he suffered from acidity, and tea would only worsen it. Something I am very familiar with, thanks to the poor eating regime I’ve followed over the years. But, it got me wondering about the thousands of sales people and field engineers who spend long hours chasing prospects or fixing things, resulting in them neglecting their own health. So I wanted to ask you, for ideas on how we could find a solution to the people who sell all the awesome stuff, and for those folk who fix our gadgets and appliances whenever they act up.

Salesperson 2

image: TrinityMarketingSystems

Can you think of ways by which sales and support folk can have their meals on time? Especially when they’re doing the rounds?

To get the ball rolling, here are a few initial thoughts that came to mind…

  • a very basic concept of a reminder app on the mobile, reminding the person to drink water, or have lunch, etc.
  • food delivery services specially focused on delivering to sales & support personnel on the go. They should deliver to anything from the crossroads at ABC junction, to outside XYZ company’s office, or outside the PQR store
  • this one’s my favorite, something I’ve personally been longing for, to streamline my eating schedule. Food in capsules. Just pop a few in, and you’re good to go. Beats even the army’s combat ration MREs

Let’s have your ideas, and hopefully someone can actually start working on a business service that’s focused on selling to those who sell.

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Just Like That

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Just Like That

I have always disliked the idea of businesses buying, and friends forcing ‘Likes’ on Facebook. The number of likes really skews the picture. It makes it difficult to differentiate between a business that has bought 300 likes from one that has earned 200 likes with quality business and customer delight.

Surely, Twitter, feedback, and public reviews help maintain some transparency in the quality of services and show truer pictures of companies. But we cannot always be expected to undertake massive research before taking small decisions.

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image: Link

Here’s a simple question that businesses still considering buying ‘likes’ on Facebook should ask themselves:

“How many, or what percent of your employees ‘like’ you on Facebook?” (of course without you asking, beating or threatening them to, and without offering them some insanely tempting monetary or other benefit to do so)

If that percentage isn’t too high, you might want to re-look your focus on one of your important customer bases, your employees. If they don’t “like” you, how do you expect your customers to?

And there are a few suggestions from an older post, in case you missed that one [Like Endorsing, Endorse Liking?].

I’ll leave you with a good ‘ol song you might ‘like’. [May not be safe for work].

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Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.