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Welcome to the belivernomics blog

 

I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Sep 6 2015 02:50PM

Every entrepreneur wants a loyal customer base. The dream is to have patrons who choose to come back again & again and who, over time, develop a personal identification with the product or service that they use. However, if it were as simple as that, everyone would be doing it – but it is not. Building and sustaining customer loyalty is painstaking work. It requires a high-level of commitment and the rewards can quickly disappear if you take your eye off the ball.


That said, there are specific things that entrepreneurs can do to build and crucially sustain, customer loyalty. Set out below are eight key tips that can be applied by any business or enterprise.


1. develop relationships not engagements - the reason why people return again and again to the same product or service is because, over time, they develop a close relationship with that product or service. Unlike casual engagements or interactions, relationships are established through credibility, confidence and trust. To build the relationship value of your product, you must first recognise the relationship value in your product.


2. use what you learn to improve what you do – the fluid and fast-moving pace of today’s commercial market-place dictates that if you are not moving forward you are moving backwards. Entrepreneurs are always seeking for the competitive edge that will attract new customers and ultimately increase their market share. To stay relevant, you need to constantly surf the curve of innovation. Don’t just do it to be bigger, do it to be better.


3. never compromise on quality – if you produce high quality products, customers will not only buy them, they will tell others who will buy them as well. The credibility that comes with word of mouth advertising is not only priceless to you, it is also absolutely free. Don’t be tempted to cut costs or corners; maintain a relentless focus on making a great product.


4. make it personal and make it convenient - personalisation and convenience are the new ‘Klondike’ of product innovation. Customers want products that speak to them and can be tailored to their specific needs and lifestyle preference. The greater the convenience the more likely you are to create ‘life goods’ rather than consumer goods.


5. fix it when it goes wrong - if you have parted with your cash to purchase a product or service it is reasonable to expect that product to meet your expectations. But what happens if it doesn’t? For customers, the next best thing is for the producer or supplier to rectify the problem quickly and effectively. As a supplier, you need to pay just as much attention to rectifying a product ‘fail’ as you do to securing a product ‘sale’.


6. see your customers as a community – your customers all have something in common: the fact that they use your product. You need to build on that commonality by cultivating your customer community. I am struck by how phenomenally successful Apple have been at turning their customer base into a thriving community of the like-minded. Think about what drives community: culture, shared values etc and start to mould these characteristics around your product.


7. give your product an effective social media platform – a social media presence is the price of admission if you want to be taken seriously in the commercial market-place. But you need to have more than a presence, you need an effective presence. The social media market-place is absolutely saturated with vendors of every description and the noise can be deafening. To be heard above the din, you need to be saying something that no-one has heard before.


8. don’t re-invent the wheel – observe the practices and behaviours of those who seem to have cracked it and look to replicate the best market standards in your area of operation. Better than that, look to improve on the best market standards. Don’t re-invent the wheel, but be prepared to raise the bar.


It bears remembering that the pivot for customer loyalty is the product. If you have a great product, half the battle is won. A great product means that customers will come; but if you cultivate great relationships, customers will stay.


By pa360, Aug 16 2015 11:56AM

In the market-place of opportunity, you need to stand out to compete and you need to compete effectively to succeed. For start-ups, the key to sustainable success is the ability to turn all things to do with ‘size’ to your advantage. By doing so you effectively re-define the market-place in a way that makes ‘scale’ work in your favour irrespective of what larger competitors are doing. So how do you do that? Well here are eight top tips for successful start-ups.


1. just because you can’t compare doesn’t mean you can’t compete – successful competition is not necessarily about doing the same things better than others, it is about disrupting the market-place with a unique and distinctive offering. Study your market, don’t just look at what others are doing, look at what they are not doing. These gaps could provide the next big growth opportunity.


2. better to get your strategy right than to get it written – a clear and coherent strategy is the price of admission for success. If you do not know where you are trying to get to, you will not know how to get there or know when you arrive. A strategy that is written to please your bank manager is neither use nor ornament. Invest the time needed to get it right and then use the strategy as a road map to get from where you are to where you need to be.


3. being small and agile has distinct advantages – one of the greatest advantages of small enterprises is their ability to respond quickly to changing demands and the emergence of new opportunities. Use this distinctive trait to best effect by networking with like-minded others to build economies of scale when you need to grow and to spread risk when you need to diversify. The ability to assemble and disassemble as necessary will enhance your operational effectiveness and your strategic capabilities.


4. customers don’t want to know who did it first, they want to know who does it best – if you are going to build on the successes of others don’t imitate - innovate. In 1984 the first commercially available handheld mobile phone was unveiled by Motorola. Today, Motorola controls less than 6 per cent of the global smart-phone market, well below that of its two main competitors. Modern consumers are not interested in history or tradition; they are interested in personalisation, convenience and choice.


5. value is better than volume – establish a reputation for designing products and delivering services that people value. The time taken to ensure that you do not just get the right product, but that you get your product right is an investment in success. Products built on value breed confidence and confidence builds trust. When customers trust you they will follow you and they will bring others. Remember, it is better to do a few things well than to do many things badly


6. slow growth is better than no growth – incremental growth and consolidation is much better than rapid and unsustainable expansion. By all means have high ambitions, but these must be underpinned by realistic targets. As part of your growth journey you need to know what success looks like in the short, medium and longer term.


7. in the market place for ideas, speed of thought levels the playing field – good ideas are not the preserve of blue chip multi-nationals or those with the biggest market share. A good idea can come from anywhere, anyone and at anytime. Keep your mind fertile, be open to new opportunities and constantly assess & reassess consumer and market behaviour.


8. be fluent in the language of data – the data mine as the new ‘Klondike’ of product innovation and business growth. With a better understanding of data you can close the gap in performance between yourself and your competitors, better manage risk and expand into new markets. The importance of understanding data is crucial to sustainable success.


In summary, the most valuable asset available to a start-up is the ability to dominate economies where size gives you an advantage or where size makes no difference. Tactically, this will enable your start-up to compete and win on its own terms.


By pa360, Jul 31 2015 09:18AM

The latest published results for the third quarter of 2015 (Q3 of 2015) reveal that Apple achieved gross revenue of $49.6bn. Apparently this is up some $12.2bn on quarter 3 of 2014. Put in some sort of context, Apple’s gross revenue for Q3 of 2015 alone is (according to the World Bank) the same as the Gross Domestic Product of Tunisia for the whole of 2014.


So what is the secret of Apple’s extraordinary success? Well for this blog I have compiled seven of the least publicised secrets, which in my view give Apple a unique edge over its competitors.


1. turning product into cultural experience – back in 1998 I doubt whether the higher ups at Apple imagined how far their brand would develop over the next 15 years. However, whether as part of a concerted strategy or through slick marketing and customer engagement, Apple is now much less a consumer brand and much more a cultural phenomenon. When a brand goes cultural and transcends the market place, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying into an experience.


2. anticipating consumer need – probably the most unique thing about Apple’s product development strategy is that it appears to provide what the customer needs before the customer even realises it. In such a situation, the supplier only needs to correctly anticipate customer need once, before a dependent relationship is established. As the dependency increases, the supplier is able to heighten anticipation so much so, that the consumer doesn’t just want the product, they clamour for it.


3. connecting smart products to other smart products – did you ever hear that quote about the American gold rush? It goes something like this: “the ones who got rich during the American gold rush were not the people who found the gold, it was the guy who sold them the shovels”. In the same way, Apple have cleverly situated their products as a kind of market-place doorway, enabling direct or indirect access to a wider range of products, services and opportunities.


4. spawning the growth of new markets – it is amazing how Apple’s success has not only re-awakened an industry, it has also created an industry in its wake. Not only have other providers had to catch up, new supply chains of start-ups have emerged with data miners and app developers devising magnificent new tools to increase customer personalisation and convenience.


5. moving from lifestyle accessory to life necessity – I can think of many products that are lifestyle accessories. Such products offer a high degree of personalisation, convenience, customisation and choice. But other than food, water, heat, light and shelter I cannot think of too many products or services that I would describe as necessities. Part of the success of Apple, is the triumph of market psychology whereby the consumer believes that they do not need the product to make their life comfortable, they need it to make their life possible.


6. taking up a unique strategic vantage point – if you stand where others stand you will invariably see exactly what they see. The challenge is to secure a slightly different vantage point which will enable you to see what they cannot. From Apple’s perspective they have been able to take up multiple unique vantage points from the perspective of the supplier, the supply chain and the customer. This market triangulation approach is entirely unique.


7. adding to the popular vocabulary – iPhone; iPad; iTunes and iMac are now part of the modern pop-culture lexicon. There is a lesson to learn here for product makers which is that if you are going to create a good product, make sure that it’s a good product worth remembering and one that is easy to remember.


Cutting-edge product design and high quality development are undoubtedly the core of Apple’s phenomenal success. But around that core, the tech giants have deployed sophisticated and innovative techniques in customer relationship management and market psychology to make their offer not just attractive, but compelling.


By pa360, Jul 14 2015 07:32PM

Last week, Serena Williams vanquished Garbine Muguruza in straight sets to claim her seventh Wimbledon title and her third Grand Slam tournament in 2015. It was an amazing achievement for the 33 year old who in 2002 won her first Wimbledon title by defeating her elder sister Venus. Some thirteen years later, Serena's dominance of the women's game is more complete and comprehensive than ever before. So what can we learn from all this? Well here are my six key leadership lessons from Sarena's Wimbledon triumph.


1. adversity is never an excuse for failure - in a number of her matches, Serena had to battle from behind to win. Indeed in her third round match against Heather Watson, Serena actually faced match point and potential exit from the tournament. Yet despite these situational setbacks, Serena dug in and demonstrated sufficient character, resilience and mental toughness to battle through and win.


2. defy convention and logic - at 33 years old Serena really should be slowing down not speeding up. Not only is Serena the oldest player in the Women's Tennis Association top ten (by some five years), she is also the only one over thirty. In what is essentially a young woman's game, Serena is defying logic, by winning when she ought to be losing and by dominating when she ought to be defeated.


3. be good to your talent and your talent will be good to you - earlier this year I wrote a blog about Serena following her Australian Open win. It basically underlined how extraordinary her achievements were, considering the circumstances of her early life and that of her sister Venus. However, it also pointed to the commitment shown by Serena to develop her talent and become the best that she can be. As her Wimbledon triumph demonstrated, this commitment continues to produce rich rewards and recognition.


4. press on to the next challenge - I recently read that Serena has amassed more Grand Slam tittles than all of the other competitors on the women's tour put together. Serena could retire today with her place in history quite literally carved in stone. Yet despite what must be a gruelling schedule, she presses on to her next challenge. Whether this next challenge is a first calendar Grand Slam or perhaps another Olympic gold medal; it is clear that Serena's exceptional success is matched only by her desire to get even better.


5. show humility in the face of greatness - in her post match speech at Wimbledon, Serena credited Jehovah God with her success. For someone whose grit and determination has become a hallmark of their life, to diminish her personal contribution and put her faith first demonstrates self awareness and humility. Why is this significant? Well in the face of such great success, self-awareness and humility are often the first casualties. To have the good grace to recognise that she could not have achieved success on her own terms, is a very real demonstration of leadership.


6. be an inspiration to others - specifically: be an inspiration, not just to this generation or to the next, but to generations still to come. Despite Serena's extraordinary personal wealth, the 21 Grand Slam titles and countless other tournament victories, perhaps her greatest achievement is in inspiring innumerable others to believe that they too can overcome adversity and achieve extraordinary success.

So there you have it, six valuable leadership lessons from Serena's latest Grand Slam success.



By pa360, Jul 12 2015 12:46PM

I would guess that most people look forward to receiving a promotion at some point during their career. As much as providing the opportunity to earn more money, promotion recognises your capability, supports your career progression and underlines your value as an employee. But, aside from being the bosses son or daughter, how does an employee significantly enhance their prospects for promotion? Drawing in part from my own personal experience and those of many others that I have worked with over the years, I have compiled a list of the ten attributes that are most likely to win you promotion.


1. showing enthusiasm - an enthusiastic employee is someone who undertakes their tasks and responsibilities with passion and energy. From one task to the next, their performance is often seamless because they 'love what they hate as much as they love what they love'. In addition to being highly motivated, the infectious energy of the enthusiast motivates colleagues and thereby, makes a direct and indirect contribution to organisational productivity.


2. setting and maintaining high standards - the ability to set and maintain standards speaks volumes about the professionalism and character of an employee. Whenever someone achieves a standard it demonstrates their ability to do what is expected and whenever they exceed standards, it demonstrates their ability to do what is needed. People who are able to set, maintain and exceed standards demonstrate both credibility and reliability.


3. being solutions focused - employees who identify problems are always useful but those who solve problems are indispensable. The capacity to stay solutions focused is a trait of ideas leadership and one that is highly prized and greatly valued by employers. If you are solutions focused you will be close to both decision making and influence.


4. using your initiative - an employee showing initiative responds to changing realities in real time by doing what is needed, not what is asked for. Initiative is a highly valuable leadership trait and will do much to demonstrate that an employee can be trusted to get on with things with the minimum requirement for instruction, direction and supervision.


5. being trustworthy - it goes without saying that employees who demonstrate that they can be trusted are of immeasurable value to their employers. Trustworthiness is demonstrated when you show the same level of care and diligence over small and comparatively insignificant things as you do for more important things. When an employer can trust you they will rely on you and encourage others to do likewise.


6. working for the team - a promotion, particularly to management position, will mean taking responsibility for the performance of others. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate your fitness for that higher calling is to actively assist your colleagues when they need a helping hand. Aside from making a meaningful contribution to the productivity of the team, supporting colleagues in need is also a practical demonstration of collective accountability.


7. seeing the bigger picture - in the context of promotion someone who can see the big picture shows that they understand the relationship between their contribution and wider organisational goals. The ability to see the big picture is evidence of strategic awareness and strategic awareness is an important competency for those aspiring to move into higher managerial positions.


8. demonstrating good judgement - a person who demonstrates good judgement gets it right more often than they get it wrong. They do this by applying reason and logic in their decision making to derive an appropriate response in any given situation. A person with good judgement demonstrates credibility and as such will win the confidence and trust of employers.


9. being productive - it is important to stress that productivity does not mean working extra hours and knocking your work-life relationship out of balance. On the contrary, productivity simply means turning up on time and being volume and value driven whilst you are at work. In a results driven environment it is an employee's ability to consistently deliver results in both quantity and quality that counts.


10. showing character - there are few attributes that will single you out for promotion quicker than your ability to show character; this is particularly so in the midst of a crisis. Your ability to stay calm under extreme pressure and not only organise yourself but (as required) organise others will provide strong evidence of leadership competency.


In conclusion, it is important to note that the above attributes are not intended as a menu of options; but rather as a character profile. Depending on who you work for and the value system that drives your organisation, some of the above attributes will be preferred over others. Notwithstanding, as long as you are credible, competent and capable your prospects for promotion will always be high.


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