Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Irony of Exceptional Businesses: Getting Back to the Basics

As a budding entrepreneur, I have recently taken to analyzing and dissecting businesses, companies and projects that I come across along my way. Mind you, I do this from a distance and usually in my head. But I especially do this with successful ones, because well, bluntly put, I want to be successful too. Gotta keep your eye on the prize, right?  Not only that, I have begun thinking about various brands or organizations I like and actually pondering the reasons why I do have such an affiliation and affection towards them.

The common denominator that was first to jump out at me was a simple one, but it was present in almost every single successful company I could think of and really managed to set apart the ordinary from the extraordinary.

I'll sum it up in a phrase for you: the truly exceptional businesses get to be so exceptional by doing some not so exceptional things. Pretty normal things, actually.

It's not necessarily about offering an amazing product/service or having a genius idea. That is an important part of the process of course, but there are millions of ingenious ideas and products out there, and those can make great companies, but to push the envelope and get your company to the next level it requires more than just that. Here is where we get back to the basics.

What do I mean by this? Well, perhaps I'm a tad idealistic and optimistic (my personal blog is entitled "The Eternal Optimist" after all), but I like to think that these traits tend to be rather, well...simple and standard. To me, they should be common sense. That is what I mean by basics. It doesn't take a rocket science to figure them out, but apparently it does to apply them.

I'm talking about the nitty gritty, elementary traits of humanity. I'm talking about getting back to the basics of social conduct, folks. Things like customer service. Great customer service these days can be thought of as simply acknowledging and answering a client's question or concern.  The standards have lowered and the technologies have improved. This should equal a recipe for social success, but in today's day and age it can too often be virtually impossible to track someone down in a company to talk to. And in my eyes that is inexcusable. What goes hand in hand with customer service? Politeness. In today's world of email and emoticons sometimes politeness seems to be a thing of the past, and because of that, it goes an even longer way when done right. There are many more basics I could list off that include but are not limited to: being on time, being prepared, listening skills, etc. These things should be a given in the business world, but I am realizing more and more that they unfortunately are not.

So, what does this mean for you and your business? Don't underestimate having an amazing product, but don't overestimate it either. There are so many (too many) wonderful ideas out there that don't make it past the startup phase and this is usually because all of the effort is spent perfecting the product and not enough on the business end. If this isn't your forte, find someone who does enjoy it and does it well. This is essential because it will create the reputation of your company and you can never take back a first impression, right?

This may be cliché but the most relevant quote that comes to my mind is simply the golden rule "treat others as you would want to be treated". This is almost even more applicable in business than in real life. You are a client of something after all. Turn the tables on yourself and think of what kind of treatment you would expect/like to receive from businesses.

What is your stance on this subject? Do you think it takes ordinary actions to create an extraordinary company? Do you think there is a lack of these logical traits in companies today?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Salut Social Media!

A few weeks ago I introduced my baby to the social media world. No, I was not with child, but I have been nurturing, creating and growing something over the past 9 months or so. This baby is Bowda PR, Communications & Consulting; a, scratch that, MY, brand spanking new PR agency. Bowda is a boutique PR agency offering a variety of services that range from social media management, media relations and content creation, and more. Bowda will be specializing in fashion PR, as well as working with startups and fellow entrepreneurs.

Why Bowda? Why now? The better question is why not now. I'm at a point in my life that I don't really have much to lose (other than time, which I don't even really consider a loss because every experience is a learning one). I'm pretty much a free agent and feel like I had to take this chance now, before the heavy responsibilities of life overwhelm and tie me down. You don't know unless you try, right?

Now, what everyone has really been asking me...what on earth does Bowda mean? The name Bowda actually arose from a separate dream of mine. First of all, if you know me at all you are well aware that I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with bows. They are just my thing. They represent everything that my style leans towards; femininity, polish and overall loveliness. I really wanted a name that represented and reflected who I am and my personal tastes. So, back to the first dream. A little fun fact about me: I am actually a certified wedding planner. I took the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada's (WPIC) wedding planning course a few years back with the intention of turning that into my entrepreneurship dream. After much though, I realized that is something I would want/need much practise and experience before being able to pursue it as an entrepreneurial endeavour and would have to immerse myself completely in that world. I still adore the idea, but was not able to give myself up to the world of weddings just yet. Although it is something I would still like to pursue, that dream is currently on hold to reach a few others first. The name I had came up with for my would be wedding planning business was indeed Bowda. The Spanish word for wedding is "boda" and I thought it to be a nice little play on words that also implemented my passion for all things bowed. When I started working on my PR agency and spent many an evening humming and hawing over a name, the boyfriend spoke up and said he liked the Bowda idea and suggested I stick with it. For whatever reason, I actually took his advice for once, and voila. Bowda PR, Communications & Consulting was thus born.

So far the support I have received is beyond incredible. It is an extremely scary thing to take a more or less blind jump into the risky and uncertain world of entrepreneurship and the warm support I have received is without a doubt the cushioned pillow at the bottom of my fall that ensured for a safe landing into the unknown.

Although it has only been mere weeks, I have already discovered and absorbed so much that if I were to close down shop tomorrow, it would have already been an extremely worthwhile experience. But don't worry, if I have anything to do with it that won't be the case anytime soon.

Stay tuned for more musings and ponderings from us as we embark on this winding ever-changing road that is the PR world as we know it of the 21st century. I'm not sure what to expect, but I sure am excited to find out and see where this road leads me. If you have any trouble finding us, just look for the girl with the bow.