Millennials – Generation “Why?”

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

The “Me Me Me Generation” & Our Community By Shane Wilson – Special Projects Coordinator At Emporia Main Street, we have daily discussions about how to move the community forward in an onslaught of ever-changing demographics, trends, generational tendencies, business models – you name it. I wanted to take this week’s newsletter as an opportunity to discuss millennials and their impact on the community. This won’t be a typical discussion simply about who they are and how they purchase, but more so a dialogue about why they are the way they are (and will continue to be), what issues this creates in our community, the underlying problems that can effect your business, and finally some ways to address these issues. As a millennial myself, I can directly identify with these concepts and can see the implications unfold on a daily basis in interactions with my peers. This isn’t to say millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are a generation of which to “steer clear” or simply shrug off. Nearly 80 million people encapsulate this generation, often labeled the “Me Me Me Generation;” they are the 20-somethings who will have the biggest impact on all facets of this community for the foreseeable future. Understanding them at their core makes it easier to see why they do the things they do, why they sometimes fall short of societal expectations, and why it is so important to start (if you already haven’t) catering to their often misunderstood purpose. Below is a progression, laid out as logically as I could muster, of a few things specific to this generation: This is the roadblock. Here’s the why behind it (and the corroborating data to back it up) Here’s how it can effect you Here are some ways to combat the issues and turn the roadblock into a functioning thoroughfare Roadblock:  Millennials are “starting” their adult lives later than ever before Why:  “We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls ‘the changing timetable for adulthood.'” The concept is that millennials are in what’s being referred to as “Emerging Adulthood,” a new stage of growth and development that comes after adolescence and before true adulthood. It’s why so many young adults delay starting families, delay engaging in traditional long-term investments, delay getting on familiar career paths, and even delay relationship building. From one study: The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation. Effect: Businesses that offer “traditional” life cycle products and services are currently seeing (and...

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Are You An Artisan Or An Entrepreneur?

Posted by on Sep 1, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

The vast majority of the articles included in the newsletter are geared towards businesses and organizations.  I thought we’d take a break from that for a week to simply explain a major point of confusion with many community members when they are looking at the actions (or inaction) of local property owners, businesses and organizations. Most people view business or property ownership from an external, “sterile” perspective.  Decision-making in businesses, for properties, or within organizations is based in their sense of logic; consequently, they don’t always understand when entrepreneurs don’t act as they think an entrepreneur should act like.  They ask questions like, “why wouldn’t they just sell the business/property?” or “why are they concerned that they are too busy?” and even more internal questions about hours, types of payments received and inventory management.  What people don’t understand is that decisions are sometimes made from a non-business or more emotional perspective.  When we run into that scenario, we refer to those people as “artisans”, for lack of a better term. The differences between artisans and entrepreneurs are many, and some people display elements of both decision making types.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and each responds to opportunities and threats differently.  It is important to determine which type of business you are dealing with (or which elements within the business you are dealing with) to determine your level of interaction and their staying power.  Here are a few key differences:   1.  Entrepreneurs build businesses for their targeted clientele that they, themselves are passionate about.  Artisans build businesses that they are passionate about, and they hope others are too (just not too much).  Entrepreneurs look for market gaps that are large enough to create a profitable business venture or a sustainable organization, then they acquire the necessary resources to effectively take advantage of the market opportunity.  That doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the category of business they are working in or have working knowledge of that area (they consider themselves a resource, too), but their overriding goal is to make a profit within the market.  Artisans look at the things they love or love to do and figure out how to make a business out of it.  Because artisans are generally fairly interesting and well-connected people, they exist in “bubble” groups of like-minded individuals and hope that the bubble is big enough to garner support.  If their “bubble” contains individuals that think more like an entrepreneur and can freely share concerns/opportunities, an artisan can be more successful.   2.  Entrepreneurs are focused on succession planning to aid in the continuation of a business and to maximize profitability.  Artisans either don’t want someone else owning “their” business, or they are such an integral part of the business...

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The Future Economy

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Are you (and your business) prepared? Part of the Economic Restructuring point requires us to “look ahead” for future economic trends based on social, technological, environmental, governmental or demographic projections.  That’s not an easy job, but it is necessary for businesses and community strategies to intersect with future economic changes rather than simply react to them.  We have some REALLY big potential changes coming in the future, and while we can’t predict the outcome or impact of each “shift”, we can discuss potential change points and start the discussion process so businesses and organizations have time (and a strategy) to adapt.  And, while I’m sure some will say “that won’t impact me”, I think that people might be surprised by the impact some trends may have on them… 1.  Tech will continue to impact the job market – Over the next twenty years, it is anticipated that 9.1 million jobs will be replaced by technology and 50% of the entire job market will be “entrepreneur based”.  The jobs that do grow (like robotic repair/design, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, etc.) will require a level of technical sophistication.   2.  Entrepreneurship goes from “niche” to absolute necessity – As technology ascends and the job market shifts, entrepreneurs will be the only commercial group that can effectively take advantage of changes.  Markets with “micro-bubbles” that form and then are replaced by continually improving technology will highlight rapid changes.  Entrepreneurial groups that can travel from specialty site to site without being tethered to a location for short, but very intense workloads, or entrepreneurs that can continuously adapt their business model with unique products and services (especially those that are experienced based) will win.   3.  Self driving vehicles will change city design – Before you think “this is science fiction”, the first vehicle with a truly “self driving feature” is due by Cadillac in 2017.  By 2030, self driving cars are estimated to be the norm.  And, for all of those that say “I’ll never”, wait until some of your friends invite you into a vehicle where you can all face each other, mess around on-line, take a nap or get work done and see what you think. The self driving car ramifications for city design are huge.  Massive parking lots for businesses aren’t really necessary if you have a built in valet.  Vehicle ownership might look more like a “time share” or an automated Uber service.  The ability to ride to work while working (or sleeping) may extend the range in which live from their primary job, which would require communities to attract residents in a completely different way.  Some communities are even anticipating that self driving cars will change the way communities are funded;...

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Seven Deadly Mistakes That Impact Your Business

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Mid-sized communities definitely have their advantages.  We get the best of the “small town feel” while we have a variety of different business and organizational opportunities available.  Within smaller communities, organizations and businesses can fall into certain habits or ill conceived strategies that could damage their culture and future growth prospects.  After working with several businesses in mid-sized communities over multiple states, we’ve seen some patterns emerge that constitute “red flags” for businesses or organizations as they continue their quest for growth, improvement and profitability.  These “seven deadly red flags” are things we thought important to share with businesses and organizations as they self reflect and mitigate threats while taking advantage of opportunities. 1. Have a defined management style/theory.  Staff and volunteers like consistency.  As a manager, it is important to define your style of management that you will use to maximize the effectiveness of staff or volunteers.  For example, I know some managers that are effective in a hierarchical management style that is very “singular task” or minutia driven.  In this style, employees or volunteers are expected to complete tasks in a very deliberate manner, within a given time frame.   “Outside the box” thinking really isn’t encouraged within a hierarchical management style.  Emporia Main Street utilizes a more organic style, where we empower staff and volunteers to spot (and take advantage of) opportunities and mitigate threats.  It’s a messier style of management that takes a while to resonate with staff, but organizations typically create more “buy in” and generate more innovation over time.  Regardless of the management style employed, you need to stick with it.  Flipping back and forth between how interactions are conducted by management can cause confusion and stress. 2.  Never, EVER, put yourself above the brand.  In my former life as a retailer, the business that I worked for targeted mainly women and youth.  I’m a guy, and I would often have other men involved with marketing encourage me to make the marketing more about men.  Everything from “real men shop Madelynn’s” to talking about “men’s style” and focusing on really specific men’s niches within the confines of the store (like barbecue supplies).  Did we have male shoppers?  Sure!  But, if I simply catered to myself saying “I’m a guy, and this is what I would want to hear” without recognizing our target clientele, I would have created a horrible branding position.  Businesses and organizations that take a 180 degree turn from their target clientele often “split their brand” which essentially creates twice the work for almost the same amount of return you got before.  So, when looking at your business or organizational branding, are you appealing to your target audience, or are you simply catering to your...

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Social Media Insights

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Get the most out of your online engagement efforts! By Shane Wilson – Special Projects Coordinator Buffer. SocialBro. Bubbly. Frilp. Am I making up words on the spot, or is there something more to this “new age” lexicon? The top experts in social media strategy know about these tools and use them on a daily basis. If you haven’t heard of them, now is the time to jump into the deep end and learn as much as you can about social media and how you can make it work for your business – in the most effective and efficient way possible. These tools and strategies, used in tandem with conventional marketing tactics, are meant to help you “drive” your business – drive sales, drive traffic, drive brand awareness. New tools and platforms to keep an eye on IFTTT Short for “If This, Then That,” IFTTT is a time-saver’s dream. By activating your social accounts via their easy to use interface, it allows users to do multiple actions based on one. For instance, IF you upload a video to YouTube, THEN it can be automatically uploaded to your Facebook page. IF you or your business is tagged in a photo on Facebook by anyone, THEN it can be uploaded to your own Facebook photo album for you. There are hundreds of compatible apps and social media channels that can be programmed to do almost anything. You can create your own actions, called “recipes,” or you can browse a giant list of premade recipes! Hootsuite For those looking for a “catch all” for social media management, few offer the range of services and tasks that Hootsuite does. Managing Facebook and Twitter via a single medium is very handy – there are even ways to handle multiple accounts of the same social platform. Hootsuite can be a tried and true resource- engagement results, web traffic reports, analytics, mobile support – you name it. Buffer Similar to Hootsuite, Buffer allows you to post to social accounts like Instragram, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter through a singular dashboard. Buffer gives users a variety of unique tools, like sending single messages to multiple accounts and scheduling messages via a timing mechanism so as to hit the web at peak times. It also allows users to analyze traffic for each and every post via shortened, targeted links. It’s very user friendly, so those with little experience can feel comfortable jumping right in! Edgerank Checker For businesses that are Facebook heavy or dependent (you shouldn’t be too dependent on just the one at this point!), there’s Edgerank Checker, a unique service that analyzes your page and gives suggestions. A better explanation from the web: “Edgerank Checker helps admins...

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Building a Business Culture

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Modern successful businesses are focused on lifestyle branding – are you? Through the Start Your Own Business Class, countless business start up meetings, and business funding programs, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of successful and growing businesses within the region.  I’ve also worked with businesses that weren’t as successful.  When potential entrepreneurs talk to me about what generates success within a business, they are not surprised by some of my answers (have a good relationship with your banker, utilize the Small Business Development Center, bring a good attorney onto your team, great accountants are an invaluable resource, never stop marketing/advertising, hire good staff that you trust, create check lists, little things can turn into big things if you aren’t careful, manage your cash flow…) but entrepreneurs are generally surprised when I talk about creating a culture. One of the most dramatic business shifts in the last decade has been the shift away from simple price-based strategies to an experience-based consumer interaction.  Internet sales and direct-from-manufacturer conduits have made competing solely on the basis of price difficult for all businesses.  Even service businesses are feeling the pinch in competing with cloud based alternatives to their expertise based options.  Successful businesses of all types have found an effective counter to the “price only” consumer model: culture building.  The beautiful thing about a culture building business strategy is that it applies universally to all business and organizational types.  It doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, restaurant, service provider, educator, non-profit or home based entity…  The tenants of a culture based business model can help elevate your business beyond “place that provides stuff or services” to “something that helps improve my life and is part of who I am”.  This shift fundamentally changes the relationship between the consumer or public and the business or organization, but you need to pay close attention to a few realities to take advantage of this strategy. 1.  Your business or organization is not for everyone – When I meet with an entrepreneur and they tell me that their market is “everyone” a little shiver runs up my spine.  No business or organization appeals to every person.  So, businesses and organizations have to set a series of qualified cultural values to determine who their actual target market is.  Targeting these individuals goes well beyond the categories of age, gender and income.  What do your ideal consumers actually value?  How would their actions reinforce the adherence to those values?  Now, recognize that not everyone fits the mold you just created, and that’s okay.  Creating loyalty and advocacy among your consuming public means catering to the consumers that best fit your cultural expectations. 2.  Define and communicate who you ARE and just as importantly, who...

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