Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Business lessons from the election

Like most Canadians, I am so glad this LONG election is over.  It became quite grueling at the end.  But, having said that, there were several business lessons to be gleaned from the whole process.

1.    The underdog sometimes wins
It was like David vs. Goliath in that right from the start, Trudeau was viewed as the long shot, “not ready” to quote the advertising campaigns. And compared to the big budgets of the Conservative party, the Liberal and NDP Parties were the poor cousins and had less to spend on their campaigns.  Yet, the Liberals won.

So in small business terms, it is a bit like us competing for a contract against a larger company.  Who’s to say we won’t win it.  Being smaller means we can be more nimble and flexible to the requirements and are used to achieving much with a small budget.

2.    Attitude matters
Regardless of your political stripe, I suspect you may agree that some of the campaigns were negative and divisive, focusing on what their competitors were not and their perceived short-comings, and spending less time on their vision and what they’d actually do for the country.

In business when we bad-mouth our competitors, we are actually saying a lot about ourselves.  And not good stuff either.  Staying professional is key.  Sometimes it is what is not said, that speaks volumes.  When we focus on what we offer, we stay on track and are not distracted by what our competitors may be doing.

3.    Listen.  Listen hard.
It pays to listen to your electorate and understand their issues as well as involving members of your team.

Likewise, when you listen to your customers, you get a better sense of what they need and want, and can deliver.  Involving your team, means they also have a vested interest in your success and can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the situation.  

4.    Be open and transparent
That means being willing to answer questions, even difficult ones.  Open dialogue goes a long way to building a relationship, and that in turn leads to trust.  And trust means you stand a better chance of getting the business or in the case of the election, getting the vote.

The Liberal Party got our votes.  They got the business – the business of running our country.  With all the world issues and global meetings coming up, they are going to have to hit the road running, and as small business owners we know what that’s like. 

We also know what it is like when the stakes are high and you are scrambling to meet the deadlines; to deliver the goods.  So let’s cut them some slack.  Let’s have realistic expectations on what can and can’t be done straight away.  

Yes, most of us wanted change, but just like any trip, it’s better to have studied the map first so you get the lay of the land and know where you are headed, rather than heading off in the wrong direction.  

Congratulations to all the newly elected MPs.  Thank you for taking on this important responsibility.  

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