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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Time to change!

LADIES and gentlemen, we are now moments away from 2014. If you are an employee, most of you will be looking forward to this time of the year as it may mean year-end holidays and bonuses.

Some of you may also be busy making your New Year resolutions. But if you are a business owner, you may be busy coming up with your business plan for next year.

Planning for the year ahead requires a bit of both reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. Apart from my own annual business plan, as a marketing consultant, I also help some of my clients come up with their marketing plans for the year ahead, or elements of the plan.

The first order of the day is to narrow down the objectives and then come up with goals and plans to achieve those goals.

Naturally, the goals and objectives are always positive and geared towards growth. But any marketer or business owner will tell you, the marketing plan is always one of the plans that are changed the most throughout the year. Depending on what the company is offering and which market they operate in, for some companies, the marketing plan can be so fluid and dynamic that it can be changed as frequently as once a month or week.

Marketers have it tough and I often tell people who aspire to be marketing managers or want to be hired as one that if you are the type of person who likes routine work or following a set of rules, you are not suitable to be a marketer. People who are successful marketers are not just required to be able to change quickly when it comes to their marketing activities but also know how to run faster than the pack. Basically you cannot provide strategic marketing direction without knowing what is ahead or at least having the foresight to understand what will take place.

But change is something not everyone can embrace with open arms, especially for entrepreneurs. It always feels safe to stick to the same business model or plan every year. They think that as long as that plan is not “killing” the business, why not? For example, I am always amazed by one of my friends who is still using a very old handphone (I think it is eight years old) while I have already changed three phones in the span of that period.

Time for change: Letting go of old tools can lead to progress.
He can afford a new one, but stubbornly refuses to get one. Two years ago, his nephew had enough of his stubbornness and bought him a touchscreen smartphone. When I met this friend again recently, I saw he was still using the old phone. I asked about the new phone and he said it was sitting in his drawer as he found it just too troublesome to transfer all his contact details from the old phone to the new one. He was comfortable with the functions of the old one and did not feel like learning the functions of the new phone.

He does not realise just how much he is missing out on.

While there are few people like my friend, I think sometimes entrepreneurs can be like that when it comes to things they need to change in their business. It could be a non-performing employee whom they know they should have let go a long time ago, but just did not want to for fear of rocking the boat.

So they end up paying for non-performance year in and year out, to the detriment of the business.

It could be products they need to retire from their offerings or offices or outlets they need to relocate. It could also be about learning new things or new technology and starting from zero again.

All are hard and uncomfortable decisions especially when change is involved. Change is risky and can be a scary path, but if deep down we know and realise that the change will bring about something better, then we should not be afraid to change. Now is the time.

Contributed by Jeanisha Wan

Jeanisha doesn’t like last minute changes, but equates the need to change with water that needs to be constantly flowing to be fresh. She is more fearful of having her business end up like the water in the Dead Sea. Talk to her at Happy New Year!

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