Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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10 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Change the Social & Economic Story

Men and women who create for-profit and nonprofit new ventures can and should do things of the kind that the President-Elect is likely to neglect, negate, or avoid. Entrepreneurs can quietly change the story, one organization at a time, whatever government may or may not do.

Here are ten ways venture founders can alter the course implied by what we know of Donald Trump’s intentions. They are all within our own authority, not those of government. We can:

  1. actively appreciate the economic and social needs of disadvantaged groups and consider how our own organization can make a difference-or start a new one that can; at least ensure that our own organization does not contribute to disadvantage;
  2. be inquisitive about rural and underserved populations adversely impacted by political, economic and tech change-and examine ways that our organization can make a positive contribution, including the offer of products, services or employment;
  3. create inclusive policies on gender, gender identity, race, national origin & religion; offer all employees dignity & respect, provide healthcare, parental leave, clear policies on sexual harassment, & the opportunity for participation in decision-making and sharing organizational success;
  4. take the opportunity to participate in the life of local communities to mutual advantage, through direct civic engagement, as well as supporting employee volunteering; become involved in community supported enterprises;
  5. evaluate all practices of the organization that may contribute directly or indirectly to climate change-and introduce ways that will reduce pollution; seek to be powered by clean energy and move to zero waste;
  6. ensure that the pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid members of the organization does not exceed 20:1 (as it was in 1965) to reduce financial inequity, given that the ratio between average American CEO pay and worker pay is now 303:1;
  7. re-examine the consequences of all purchasing decisions, in order to avoid pain and hardship, either in supplier organizations or the local and global community; research supplier behaviors on socio-economic parameters;
  8. commit to support the lifelong learning of all members of the organization, regardless of where they are starting or what position they hold-through internal development programs and external qualifications;
  9. employ socially responsible financial policies that do not disfavor any stakeholder, either close at hand or nationally, as well as avoiding immoral or self-serving practices, such as the avoidance of repatriating foreign profits;
  10. build a widely communicated progressive corporate story that is reflected through the behaviors of everyone in the organization and enshrined in all official organizational procedures; regularly monitor its reality.
  11. GEI scores 137 countries on 14 pillars of a healthy entrepreneurship ecosystem

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Mercedes Benz GLS : Premier Luxury SUV

American buyers can book their Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 in December as deliveries initiate from March 2016. As of yet, no information is released regarding Australian and UK markets. Furthermore, fuel efficiency, pricing and performance are still undetermined.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 is in essence a revamped GL-Class model. As per the GL strategy, all Mercedes’s vehicles including crossovers and SUVs initiate with GL-, followed by a letter, denoting the vehicle’s size. S-class includes the largest vehicles in category.

Apart from that, little is revised in GLS model, with trimmed down headlights and bumpers resembling its smaller models and LED lights are normative in Mercedes vehicles. Owners of Mercedes GLS-550 can opt for sports version for an aggressive edge.

Fast Facts

· Price: $64, 500

· Horsepower: 240-550

· Engine: 3.0 V6

Horsepower categorization Mercedes-Benz is all geared up with their engines slated to be incorporated into Mercedes-Benz GLS.

· GLS-350 BlueTEC is powered by V-6 diesel engine with turbo-boost, capable of producing 455 lbs-ft of torque and 240 horsepower.

· GLS-450 is equipped with V-6 turbo-engine, capable of producing 369 lb-ft of torque and 360 horsepower.

· GLS-550 is equipped with V-6 turbo engine, capable of producing 516 lb-ft of torque and 429 horsepower.

· The GLS-63 consists of factory-fitted V-8 turbo engine, producing 560 lb-ft of torque and 550 horsepower.

Engine categorization

The GLS model consists of the following categories:

· The GLS-350d is equipped with a 3-liter 6-cylinder engine.

· The GLS-450 is powered a by gasoline 3-litre 6-cylinder engine

· GLS-550 is equipped with 4.7 liter turbocharged 8-cylinder engine.

Miscellaneous options consist of adaptive damping options along with selectable modes, air suspension and driving modes for personal preferences.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 can be facilitated with Distronic Plus, Mercedes’s own semi-autonomous cruise control system. It will operate at a predetermined speed before the driver takes control of the vehicle.

Interior

Mercedes-Benz has included subtle changes in its GL-class, updating various features from the 2013 version. The SUV class is now termed as GLS, depending upon the model of Mercedes in question. Mercedes-Benz GLS has an updated infotainment system, using trim materials and redesigned dashboard.

Mercedes GL class has been revamped for 21st century stylistic aesthetics. The infotainment screen has been redesigned into a floating tablet appearance, redefining Mercedes-Benz interiors. Furthermore, center console, instrumental panel and 3-spoke steering wheel have been redesigned. GLS models are normative with 3-rows of seats. In tech section, GLS model is remodeled with ample options. Normative tech utilities include myriad of safety systems, such as collision warning, automatic braking system and attention assistance for preventing drowsiness during driving. In case of an emergency braking, the vehicle will apply extra pressure.

Added tech galore

At an extended price, the GLS model can be bumped with impressive tech options. For an extra price, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic detection and active lane-keep assist can be incorporated. With Active Curve System, the body rolling during taking sharp corners is reduced. Magic Vision Control facilitates spray free cleaning of windshield.

Pros

· Optimum for long-drive

· Attention-grabbing interior

· Comfortable seating

Cons

· Large size is a hindrance in driving

· Added tech can be expensive

· Driving cost is high

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The Eurozone Train Wreck Continues Into 2017

The European Union seems to be trying to hold itself together, but it is indeed wobbling itself apart like an aircraft engine with an unbalanced propeller and the vibrations are getting worse reverberating from one side of the continent to the other, where no nation is spared from the challenges which await – so what can we expect in 2017 you ask?

Well, “Brexit” has already had some effect on Germany and other nations are considering similar exits from the EU, which could quicken its demise. The recent Italian vote was problematic as is the condition of the Italian banks. Remember when Greece got caught short? Do you remember in 2014 what was going on in the EU? Let me remind you quickly:

MSNBC Money “China, France drag on global manufacturing revival,” published on February 3, 2014, written by Jonathan Cable and Koh Gui Qing which stated; “Manufacturers around the world enjoyed a solid start to the year as order books swelled, surveys showed on Monday, though a struggle for growth in China and a downturn in France took the shine off the overall picture. Euro zone factories had their best month since mid-2011 and, with unemployment near record highs, increased headcount for the first time in two years. They were led by a sharp pick-up in Germany and a revival among the states on the region’s periphery. But France, the bloc’s second biggest economy, remained a drag on the region.”

As an example Greece, when they entered the EU they had a bad credit rating and any loans would of cost them a lot in interest, when they joined the EU they effectively got the same rate on loans as Germany who as you probably know are very stable in the financial sector, so Greece took loans out at low interest rates for years.

Yah, Greece has always been a financial disaster like Argentina or Zimbabwe… now it’s all gone sour they are left with huge debts and so on, Italy and Spain are in the same boat and seeing as the UK loaned ALOT of money to Spain and others we are massively exposed to the crisis. Spain for example has more empty property (new builds) than the ENTIRE USA.

Real estate tanked in Spain, we all read about that in the WSJ, few in the US realized it was that bad. In 2008 China was challenged even after their 2008 stimulus as their municipals did elaborate growth projects, building for the sake of it?

Remember the original plan for the EU was to introduce one currency (which they did) and then introduce a EURO Government to manage it, the second part never happened and now the backlash is huge, and it doesn’t really matter that the 2008 crisis started in the US. The EU wasn’t doing that well before the crisis. And we shouldn’t blame the US for the crash, let’s not forget one of the enablers was AIGs London Office selling insurance often with guarantees in excess of 130% of face value on those mortgage bundles and credit default swaps.

Yes, we have some socialists in the US and when the capitalists and socialists get together or start using each other it is as if everyone loses their brains. So, the slow-motion train wreck and Eurozone melt-down continues, who is to say if it can continue for long without falling apart, and once that engine falls off the plane, its coming in for a very hard landing. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in 2017.

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Tips And Tricks To Market Your Website

New Year is ready to knock your doors with new dreams, challenges, and opportunities for your business. No matter, how many mistakes you have done in your past year, it’s time to correct them all. This may give a kick-start to your career and let you touch the new heights in your business. The first thing you should keep in mind is that creating a website is not enough, you also have to spread it around the world, so, it can create opportunities. Marketing is a daunting task that you cannot overlook anyhow, so, here are some proven ways that can help you to market your website in 2017, which allow you to rock on the internet with your distinct identity. Optimization Is The Key: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important and unforgettable factor for the success of your website. It may increase the visibility of your website, so, the first and foremost thing you need to do is optimize your web pages, content or social links for search engines. It helps to market your website in all over the world by the mean of increasing its ranking on different search engines.

Breathtaking Design That Catches The Eyes: Another way to market your website over the internet or intranet is by creating mesmerizing and inspiring design that catches the eyes of its visitors and pulls them to go through your website once. The design is the soul of your website that helps in its marketing. Always give a look and add functionality to your website that attracts human and web spiders as well.

Spread It To The World With Social Media: Nowadays, social media is ruling the market it helps to viral any news in a few seconds. So, you should also take its help to market your website. You can easily create your business pages on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and many more and get quality traffic to your website. Content Is The King: Last but not the least method to market your website is by creating engaging and inspiring content to post on your website that gives your visitors a reason to come back. Always remember unique content not only open the doors for new visitors or retain the existing ones but also give search engines a reason to crawl your website, which in result increase its ranking.

These are some simple tips and tricks you can use to market your website in 2017. So, what are you waiting for? Use it and get ready to touch the new heights in your business.