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  • Writer's pictureJohn O'Rangers

Running A Small Business In 2024: Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong

Obviously, Father Time is part my battle these days. The fact of the matter is I'm now 52 years old now and while age and wisdom are invaluable, it does come with drawbacks. And I'm not talking about the aches and pains of aging, I'm talking about keeping current on the trends. You can fall behind so quickly that you won't know what happened, especially today with technology moving at such a rapid pace. So, the question is, how does someone keep up with the trends? Studying, learning, and a good dose of humility is the major component, and what you'll find out will astonish you.

The first thing I'm going to advise you as far as current trends is the following. Yes, there are people out there that operate in ways that seem odd or perhaps even downright annoying. All I can tell you is that it's the way things are, it's here to stay, and will continue to become more commonplace. Cultural norms shift and while I'm not saying you have to like it; it is vital to understand how these people live and work and deal with them in a way they understand. Either you adapt or you die, that's just how it is.

Now let me set the table for you to make this more understandable. Let's go back in time to 1912, a little over a century ago. A well know tragedy occurred that year that defined the period. The Titanic sank and took over 1,500 souls with it. While I'm not here to discuss the Titanic's story in specificity, I do see it as a signpost to look at as far as the cultural norms of that time. Simply put, the Titanic represented the technology of the time and how people made transcontinental voyages. That was what people knew and understood.

Inevitably time marched on and by the 1950s the way we traveled changed dramatically. Jumbo jets came along, and commercial flights became the accepted way of transcontinental travel, a mode that continues to this day. But let me ask you this. Do you think someone age 52 in 1952 might have looked upon air travel with suspicion? That person grew up with passenger ships and now they're being forced to accept this new-fangled thing. I can assure you that some did feel this way and either gave up travel or adapted to it. One or the other, there was no in-between.

My friends, those same paradigms are in play nowadays. When it comes to running a business, you have to be aware of these changing dynamics and move accordingly. For example, in my early career, selling something to a customer often involved specific strategies. A lot of it was person to person, lots of human interaction, cold calls, direct mail, networking, and so forth. With the exception of maybe networking, the rest of all of that is largely obsolete and doesn't work anymore. The reason? Younger people, specifically later Millenials and Gen Z, do not do business that way.

You have to understand that the old methods were essentially an analog way of operating. Younger people largely do not operate in an analog world. Many have grown up strictly in the digital age and that's what is their normal. These people typically do not communicate one on one with a live person in front of them. They communicate through texts, SnapChat, X, and the big one now is TikTok. They don't like or trust a salesman cold calling their work or home, and outside of immediate friends and family, they communicate with people through their smartphones. All of this may sound ridiculous to you if you're older, but I'm being honest and telling you that's how they roll.

When selling a product or service to this type of clientele, you have to reach them through their accepted modes of communication. No, you're not going to sell much by sending them a flyer via USPS. No, they do not want to talk to you face to face. Don't believe me? Take a good look around your own neighborhood and observe. What neighbors seem friendlier? Typically, older folks. The younger 30 somethings kind of keep to themselves, don't they? That's because they're not into being outwardly social like that. But if you have their cell phone number and text them, guess what? They'll often be much more social with you. So, they're not bad people, but they simply function in a different way than us older guys.

If you want to have them as customers, you have to be aware of these trends. Your services will only register with them if you use the mediums that they operate in. You might need to do some TikTok marketing, advertise on X or possibly Google Ads. And it's not just "being online" that matters. You have to be on the right platforms to reach these folks. It's not easy, especially if you're older and behind the times. But adapt you must, or you will fade away.

I hope this helps you better understand what it's all about when it comes to business in 2024. As the title suggests, what you think you know you really don't. It's a brave new world out there. Adapt or die.

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