Navigating The Top Business Challenges for 2014

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: March 27, 2014

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” These wise words from Winston Churchill can act as the foundation for business success in 2014. But as we’ve settled into a year teeming with new technologies and customer expectations, the difficulties that abound are many.

Failure to pay heed is not an option. When it comes to navigating the top cited business challenges for this year, a lot of business owners will be left behind while a small percentage of savvy entrepreneurs will sail through with ease. The key is to get things in order in 2014 – as the new, enhanced, digital economy takes flight and only continues to grow.

The good news: You do have this year to really shift the way you make money and run your business.

According to Forbes, there are 7 primary challenges most companies will face this year. In a nutshell, here they are and how you may begin to turn them into opportunities won.

The 7 Challenges

1. Invest in free stuff!  It seems counter-intuitive to succeeding in business but you’ve got to give away a lot of free stuff to win over the consumer. The business with the most free stuff will top the market. Your customers want free apps, free video, free PDFs, free consultations, free advice, free samples and free bonuses. It’s time to give last rites to the good old days of saying “My services cost $175 an hour… take it or leave it.” Do that and expect the client to leave it.

2. Crank out the content! Like it or not, your business is also a media business. The only way you’re going to cope with the demand for free stuff is to pump out media content. Start working towards mastering the art of frequently and regularly creating photos, videos, slides, podcasts, downloads and software – stuff that’s free for the taking by your audience.

3. IT is the “it” factor!  While you don’t have to be particularly tech savvy, someone on your team better be. You need to be superfast at building websites, collecting meaningful data, using that data, and optimizing your business online. You need to know what’s worth paying for, what’s worth doing in-house and what you can cobble it together quickly for free or very nearly free. Cheaper no long means cheap. I’m shocked at how many entrepreneurs are clueless to the fact that they are paying $2,000  or more for work that can be obtained for as little as $100! Thanks to technology you can also have a more productive staff with fewer employees. No one wants to cut loose a worker, but why pay for 7 staffers when 5 will do?

4. Going mobile! This is the year that mobile will turn everything on its head. Mobile will quickly become more disruptive than the PC ever dreamed to be – and it will affect every industry. Don’t scoff. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone and neither of you glanced at your phone? Most of us are googling, updating and surfing our way through the day – even when we’re chatting with business partners or potential customers. And they’re doing the same. Your business must be optimized for mobile. Odds are new clients are going to discover you on their mobile device. They might hear about you in a conversation and search for you that minute; what comes up in that search determines the outcome.

5. A brand new day! Your business depends on your brand. I’m not talking about your business brand. I mean your brand – as in you, the man or woman reading this blog. Very few businesses can get by with being a faceless entity anymore. Like it or not, you will be googled before any big deal. The results must make you appear credible, or you’ll most likely miss your big break. But please do not try to polish your brand by spreading amateurish, pointless dribble across the Internet or by trying to paint yourself as an expert when you aren’t one.

6. Value proposition! Prior to the Industrial Age, most workers and business owners were paid for results. If you brought a bag of potatoes to the market, you got paid for a bag of potatoes. No one seemed to care how long it took you to grow those potatoes. With the Industrial Age, however, came the concept of “attendance-based compensation.” The concept was designed to standardize pay for those toiling on a factory line. Today, if you’re not being paid for results or products sold, you’re going to be devalued. Track what you are really worth and be sure to get paid for it.

7. No sale!  The practice of selling information products has gone the way of the dinosaur. Your potential customers are drowning in high quality, instantly accessible information. I’m a big fan of releasing books, articles, podcasts or membership programs. Just don’t expect to make money from these items. Your money will come from the people who don’t have the time to implement the ideas you’re giving away.

“This is a pivotal year for you and your company; react or get ready to be surpassed. Get these right and the next 10 years will feel like you’ve got Superman powers! Get it wrong and over the next decade you will feel like you’ve been weakened by kryptonite.” Are you feeling the pressure in any of these 7 areas?