Episode 22: The business assumptions, rules and paradigms you used to guide your business through 2020 and previous years won’t necessarily apply in 2021. Join me for a discussion with Industrial psychologist and business coach Rita Ernst and photographer/brand & image consultant Coral Abood. If 2020 was the year of pivot, 2021 will be the year of flex.
Rita discusses how her background as an industrial and organizational psychologist gives her a unique perspective in how she approaches her client issues. She works with small businesses who have achieved significant earnings, but now realize that the tools and approaches the business leader relied upon during start-up may no longer be the right tools, as the business evolves.
Rita can assist with defining the organization structure, roles and responsibilities, culture, etc. She works to bring clarity to business challenges and to empower the leaders to resolve issues and continue making solid progress.
As a small business owner, do you feel as if your business is running you, instead of you running your business? Maybe it’s time to engage a business coach to help you.
Coral has been in business for almost 12 years. She works with businesses to create and/or improve their images and brand positioning. She often begins with 2 key questions:
- What sets you apart and makes you unique in your marketplace?
- Who is your target audience?
Coral brings a level of intention to how and why the images are going to be used to appeal to the audience and convey meanings. This is about visual story-telling and your imagery needs to support your brand’s story.
Evolving Business Require New Skills
I asked Rita Ernst about the importance of recognizing that your skill-set has to change if your business is going to be managed effectively. Rita understands that when leaders fail to understand this, they themselves can actually be a roadblock to the company’s success.
Business leaders bring passion and vision to the business. They have enormous energy to devote to the details, as well as the overall operation. Delegation of some decisions and/or responsibilities can be very difficult for some people.
The number one result of engaging Rita as a business coach is that the leader is now active spending time working on the business, rather than in the business. The impact in almost instantaneous.
Rita views herself as a catalyst. The results created are created by the leaders. She shares the effort, but in the end, they need to implement the changes and enable the results to occur.
Perspective and Commitment
Leaders sometimes struggle because they are too close to the situation. Hiring a professional business coach enables you to consider another perspective. It’s always valuable to have another pair of eyes on the business challenge. At the same time, you’ll be forced to speak out loud. This simple step promotes ownership of the situation and of the potential solutions.
Solopreneurs and small business owners don’t have those multiple layers of support often found in larger corporations. Besides the need to be really effective in your role, you also need to recognize when it’s time to raise your hand and admit you might not have with the knowledge or skill to effectively navigate your current business challenges. Industrial and organizational psychologist Rita Ernst is a resource whom you can look toward for help.
Do you ever wonder if it’s time to engage a business coach? Rita offers a free coaching assessment on her website.
Rita brings an intentional presence, the ability to listen without judgement and a competency to form observations from a perspective that’s not bogged down by being so wrapped up in the situation.
Recognizing the Impact of Millennials
We’ve heard many stories and read articles about how different the millennials are. While Gen Xers learned to grind through it and take a DIY approach, millennials are much more into speed. This generation is very different and, in many cases, are now stepping into larger and larger roles. They want to connect with people who can help them to “get there” faster. The legacy norms and perspectives are rapidly being discarded. It’s sometimes requiring a disruptive change when it comes to your business. As a leader, you need to be ready.
Tips for Approaching 2021
One of the most important tip Rita recommends is to avoid carrying the negative energy of 2020 forward in to the new year. There two basic reason:
- Realize the old assumptions you operated regarding your business are irrelevant after this pandemic.
- This is the year of flex. You may need to alter your business practices, processes and expectations. There’s still a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It may be time to cast a new vision for your business.
While change can be disruptive and often uncomfortable, with the right perspective, it can unleash a huge number of opportunities for those who are prepared to understand what’s happening and to provide innovative solutions to challenges. Be optimistic!
Coral Abood’s approach and capabilities are going to be increasingly important as businesses push into this new frontier. She notes that not only are audiences changing, but more importantly the behaviors of those audiences are also changing. Her company, Willow Tree Imaging is ready to help you.
Coral focuses on the customer experience when it comes to working with a client’s business. How to customers interact with the online properties? What do they expect from that business if they are to buy products and services? Imagery plays an important role in the customer journey. It will either draw them in or push them away.
Interestingly, this isn’t just about taking great pictures. Coral works with a researcher who provides details about the target audience. This can also impact the imagery the business needs to use in conveying information about their brand positioning and the overall user experience. This is increasingly important, especially since the onset of the pandemic and the resulting change in customer behavior or patterns.
Returning to the millennials, they tend to be more focused on the experience and emotions and less so on the words.
We are the most connected we’ve been, but at the same time, the most isolated. The message conveyed by the images on your digital marketing are vital to your success.
Visual Story Telling
Willow Tree Imaging works to tell a story through pictures. Many websites continue to use stock photography. Coral explains, “If you use stock photography, you’re telling someone else’s story. You’re not saying what sets you apart from your competitors.”
Effectively telling a client’s story moves beyond pictures. It’s an obvious lead in to branding work. It includes a range of brand elements including:
- Color Choice
- Brand Voice, and more
Consistency across all of your marketing platforms builds consumer trust.
Coral can work with the business owner to identify key subsets of a customer base related to revenue, margin or other KPIs. She can then begin to help that owner focus the imagery (and thus the brand experience) to cultivate more of those valuable interactions with the specific subset(s). It’s akin to working smarter, not harder.
Rita describes how she used Coral to take photos during a client event. Coral played the role of a “personal paparazzi.” The result is those particular photos were extremely effective for Rita when posted to LinkedIn in terms of generating Likes and Followers. The authenticity of these non-staged images are much more impactful. This is definitely important if your audience includes millennials.
Images and the Dopamine Effect
The power of social media is that is induces a dopamine hit. When scrolling through posts and images, people are often looking for that image which will cause them to feel an emotion. The dopamine release results in a feeling of happiness or relaxation.
For a business owner, effective imaging conveys a response in the mind and subconscious. The online experience you curate for your clients impacts their next step. This may be further interactions with your website or page, the setting of an appointment and the eventual purchase of your particular goods and services.
Coral’s unique approach to the branding brings research and knowledge the business owner can rely on, but even more, the approach can also put time back into the owner’s schedule. She explains a recent discussion with a client that lead to her taking over as the project manager of the website upgrades. She was able to provide clarity to the developer and copywriter regarding the brand positioning. When combined with the images she took, the client’s online presence was much more coordinated and effective. This subtle but important factor is often overlooked. That neglect can lead to ineffective messaging, wasted time, effort and money.
We discussed an innovative image subscription service Coral offers. This is an arrangement enabling her to schedule a series of ongoing photography. This provides many different ways to strategically plan for opportunities, while also being available in an on-call arrangement for a client’s events and/or interactions.
Coral and Rita have worked together for many clients. Both of these ladies are big picture thinkers. The ability to approach business challenges from multiple directions provide interesting synergies for the business owners.
In wrapping up this episode and focusing on 2021, here are a few closing thoughts:
- You must find a way to stay new and relevant in this evolving marketplace.
- You’re going to need accept that things have change and evaluating how you interact with your target audience is extremely important.
- Remember to stay flexible and adaptable as we push forward. It’s going to be an exciting time.
Contact Rita Ernst
Her digital card: https://www.onedigicard.com/mycard/ignite-your-extraordinary
Phone: (502) 235-6791
Contact Coral Abood at Willow Tree Imaging
Phone: (502) 612-9286
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode. From more information on business-related issues, visit my website at www.JimRayConsultingServices.com.
Finally, if you’re interested in developing and launching a podcast for your business or organization, I’d be happy to help. I provide this service on a regional basis. Visit my podcast production services page for more information.
Until next time, remember, if you need help with your small business, Let’s Grow For It!