Changing Tides... Can You Relate to This?
Business, like life, ebbs and flows. At times, most of us ponder the things that drive us nuts as we evaluate our career choice. These days our industry is facing more challenges than we may be accustomed to. How many of the following thoughts have captured your thinking at times?
- I'm burnt out. I've been doing this too long.
- The economy sucks. Many of my clients are out of business or have tight budgets. They either don't buy or buy less.
- In almost every sale for commodity products, the price is being checked against an online source. Despite my large company's favorable price, online sources may sell for less.
- Supplier relationships are becoming more dysfunctional. Poor communication and poor customer service leads to problems.
- Inventory shortages seem to be the new normal. I hate having to sell something twice because the supplier is out of stock.
- Product safety is a new challenge and is confusing. The potential for disaster is great.
I'm a "seasoned" (think: old) promotional products professional and have an answer for every one of these issues on my short list of complaints about this industry. Just to prove it to myself and for the purposes of this article, here are the responses:
- "I'm burnt out." I am letting my job control my life instead of the other way around. I need to set some priorities and stick to them. I should work smarter not harder and set time aside for family and enjoying life. By doing this, I can do my job rejuvenated, rested and with a clear mind.
- "The economy sucks." Yes, the economy is bad, but success for the savvy can be found in any market. If business isn't where you are looking, look somewhere else.
- Online competition. Let the price point "stuff" sales go. Focus on clients who appreciate the value-added benefits of working with a professional. Sure it is easier said than done, but a change in mindset and focus can change your outlook and reality.
- Supplier dysfunction. We are all dysfunctional at times. And as the economy changes, even the best suppliers will have problems. But building good relationships with quality companies will pay off.
- Product safety. I'm glad I work with a larger distributorship that is staying on top of this issue. Product safety represents liability risks that I don't want to take. It is also another reason to focus on good suppliers who are committed to delivering safe products.
My business focus in these days has drifted away from product sales because I am becoming more passionate about helping others through my popular business resource program FreePromoTips. The business model makes sense for me and the select group of suppliers who support the program. FreePromoTips is positive for the industry and those who take advantage of everything we offer.
In life it's a beautiful thing to have choices. Within our industry, we have options. We have a choice on who we do business with, how we do business and we have unlimited opportunity. Over the last couple of months, I've come to appreciate my situation more and more. In our industry we have unlimited ways to prosper. But going beyond earning potential, we also have the freedom to be creative and use our time as we see fit.
I'm part of a large distributor organization and enjoy the camaraderie we have. After lunch with one of our corporate VP's recently, we headed back to the office for birthday cake. A few of us casually brainstormed some ideas for one of our colleagues. I was blown away by the creativity in the room and the ideas the group came up with, all over a piece of birthday cake. I thought this account executive was armed with some really good ideas that could earn her a significant amount of business. Getting ideas from others provided a competitive advantage.
Even if you don't have a direct source to bounce ideas off, you still have opportunity to build beneficial business relationships. I'm privileged to network with some brilliant people in the industry. Through the years I've gotten to know a few great folks and have built lasting friendships with them. This opportunity is available to everyone. Get involved with your Regional Association, go to trade shows, attend education classes, get to know your multi-line reps, benefit from online resources like Promo Kitchen and FreePromoTips. There is a wealth of information out there if you seek it.
Here's to an awesome 2012!
Jeff Solomon, MAS is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter.