Fairfax / Newcastle Herald column August, 2015
NEXT week I will be celebrating 10 years since I purchased my agency and embarked on a very interesting business journey.
Anniversaries like this tend to be cause for reflection and I can’t help but consider how much has changed in the last decade and how different my business is compared to 2005. What started as a creative agency working with traditional media in the local region is now a digital only agency with clients around the world. That wasn’t the plan but became a reality as things changed.
I am sure I am not alone in experiencing a significant altering of course as the last decade has been tumultuous for businesses around the globe with new technology and global communication disrupting and transforming the business landscape.
I honestly believe that the disruption we have all experienced has changed the way most of us need to do business in the future.
Whole paradigms have changed and new lessons must be learned in order to be successful, especially for regionally based businesses.
These are the 3 biggest changes I have experienced.
You Need to Find a niche
The days of the full service business are over. You see it in all areas of business. In the age of the smartphone app as a business, you can’t afford to have a broad uncompetitive offering.
We started out as a full service agency but quickly realised that such a broad offering actually limited our potential to just servicing the Hunter Region. The more we narrowed our focus and offerings, the more successful we became, winning increasingly larger clients nationally and internationally. We couldn’t have done that offering “full service”.
Narrowing your focus also means you have the potential to become excellent at your core offering rather than just good at a range of activities.
I strongly believe that excellence in a niche is the future of business.
Work Isn’t a Place
Ten years ago the office was still the main focus of a business. Remote working existed but most of us still operated with the bulk of the talent under one roof. A more globalised economy and more efficient (and free) communication options have blown that concept apart.
Instead of renting a large office space to house more staff as a company grows it is now possible to have a team spread around the world working more efficiently.
I have a small team in our Newcastle office and another 10 people helping us in Newcastle, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Canada and the US. They are all experts at their niche service and help us deliver higher quality work more rapidly than I believe we could have done previously.
Put Your Head in the Cloud
Just 10 years ago the cost of starting and maintaining a business was considerably higher than it is today. The big change has been the explosion of cost-effective cloud-based applications and SaaS (software as a service).
Now data storage, CRM systems, accounting and payroll applications, and nearly any other business solution you require exist in an easy-to-access, pay-by-the-month cloud-based application. It means that an idea today can literally be a business tomorrow with minimal overhead.
Best of all, these cloud-based applications mean that small businesses like mine can lower costs and invest in more productive talent that is customer focused rather than bogged down in administration.
These three big changes have improved my business over the last decade and I am sure will help many other businesses that embrace change.