It’s time to strap yourself in for the business rollercoaster ride of your life. The ups, downs, and sideways shunts of a conventional rollercoaster may leave you feeling a little nauseous, but you always make it to the end of the ride. This business ride may not be quite so kind to everyone.
Large retail estates will require very careful management during these turbulent times: Economies of scale will quickly unravel unless the difficult choice of consolidation and unprofitable store closures is confronted.
As with any critical casualty, patient resuscitation needs to be delivered immediately (not after a couple of months of debate, HR consultation, agency briefings, focus groups, sign-off from marketing, brand management, legal, and so on.)
With added pressure from stretched cashflow and unsympathetic banks, there is a strong likelihood that one of the major high-street chains will become a casualty of 2009.
The high street will be far less crowded by the time we get to 2010. If you can change quickly then you may be the business chameleon that is required for these difficult times.
The distribution business has consolidated heavily over the last couple of years, with many distributors relying on just three or four key accounts to survive. Organise a proper review of your business with your distributor if you have not had one recently.
If their level of interest is about as high as the current Bank of England’s, then it is time to shop around. It makes sense to understand your distributor’s financial situation, look at their credit report, and if required, ask some tough questions.
If your business has not conquered cyberspace and you don’t know your Twitter from your Bebo then your business will be seriously impaired. Your customers will want to (at the very least) converse with you via email this year.
Social networking will make your business stronger. It is word of mouth advertising brought bang up-to-date, ready for the second decade of the new millennium. If you are a true business friend then your customers will want to know your status via Facebook.
Build and invest in an ecommerce site, and collect your customers email addresses and the right to market to them.
Work that data
This year is about making your database work for you by directing and managing all that traffic you have created on that ecommerce site to affiliate deals, and offering savings on other utilities that will benefit your customers and build commission for you.
Review your network partnerships and compare them with the new virtual networks and service providers that are available in
This is the year that making an extra few pounds per consumer will be the difference between being around or not.
No other sector is going to be more aggressive in its approach to cost cutting than the business sector. Every business will be in the mindset to review their telecom budgets, so make sure you are directing this activity and ensure that you can demonstrate how to get the best value in the marketplace.
A proactive approach to the business sector will reap good rewards. After years of battling to be heard, you will probably find that the business customer has much bigger ears in 2009.
To take full advantage of this business environment, your chameleon approach needs to be more hunter than farmer. The lazy will lose, so get out there and benefit from your competitors’ lethargy.
The industry has undoubtedly consolidated. Natural selection has been going on for years, and moves on a pace when there is any kind of adversity. In this current financial disaster, the selection process will favour the chameleon. Get ready for change and look at this fantastic mobile business from a different angle, and alter your colours accordingly. I promise you it’s the approach I will be taking.
Bernie O’Beirne was director of indirect sales for 3 between May 2001 and January 2009