I gave a presentation to a business-networking group this week on the subject of Social Media and Business.
Realising the audience was at best sceptical (with a couple of exceptions!), and at worst cynical, I used the following images.
Plain website = shop window, hopefully directing you to the door in.
Blogging on your website = shop front glass now removed, allowing you to talk to potential customers, and for them to talk back (for example by leaving comments).
Social Media (such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) = you have left your shop and are walking about sharing your ideas, and encouraging others to talk about them as well (not always with you present).
It is a bit blunt, but seemed to get the key messages over:
Social Media is not something that only happens online – it’s a mesh of physical meetings and online activities.
Ideas that are spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered to individuals.
Real engagement is when people do things for you that you didn’t ask them to.
Learn to lose some control – in return for greater reach.
We have much to thank Donald Rumsfeld for. Although mocked for his listing of “what he knew he knew”, “what he knew he didn’t know”, etc, this analysis of your situation can often distinguish perception from reality.
Compiling a list of things that you know you know about your business might seem like a waste of time, but put it beside a list of things you don’t know about your business, and you might surprise yourself just how many things you suspect, but aren’t sure about.
If you aren’t sure about it, then you don’t know it.
And then ask yourself, what are you doing to find out?
I found myself despairing today, about the lack of interest in the Balance Sheet by some businesses. I believe it is the single most important piece of information every business needs. Why?
Look at it this way, as an individual, we tend to know how much we owe other people, how much we own, even how much we are owed. It’s nice to have sense of how much we are earning, but the bit that gives us the warm fuzzy feeling of stability – or the cold shivers of concern – is the detail of where we are financially right now.
That’s what the Balance Sheet is. It’s a snapshot of who owes you, who you owe, and what you own.
As a barometer of your organisation’s health, check out the Balance Sheet. And if you want an idea of what shape you are going to be in, then ask to see the Balance Sheet’s forecast position. It’s not rocket science, and could save you from some very unpleasant surprises.