Ajax Union CEO Joe Apfelbaum warns business owners not to fear change nor feedback--both will fuel your company's growth. Here, he explains the best pieces of advice he's ever received.
Since Ajax Union started five years ago, it has been my goal to make a difference in doing business. We have worked to develop unique and innovative online marketing strategies for our clients. As a result, in just five years, we've grown to managing two offices with upwards of 60 employees working with hundreds of clients.
We're firm believers that marketing is all about testing; that said, here are three tips I've tested and learned while leading one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
1. Look to build relationships, not business. Relationships will bring you the business.
If you remember one thing, it's this: Business is not just about sales. It's about meeting people. Making connections. And developing those connections into potential future business relationships.
People want to do business with someone they trust. Listen before you start talking about yourself. Focus on getting to know the person. And understand that it helps a great deal if you genuinely understand their industry. This will make the probability of engaging in business with them more feasible and realistic later on. It will also allow you to personify your own business--to humanize your company and show your clients that you care about them and want to help them succeed.
2. Survey everything; ask everyone.
It's not always what you think will sell or be attractive that's the best solution. Look at it this way: You are one person with one opinion. Look to your friends, colleagues, and associates for advice. Ask as many people as you can when surveying a new product, service or idea. Get input. Invite change and opinion.
It's very easy to get too embedded in a project. By divorcing yourself from a situation and asking for input, you're inherently working towards creating a stronger, better-developed idea. Welcome advice with open arms; reward creativity and carefully weigh opinions that are different than your own. Remember: "Different" does not mean "bad."
3. Embrace change.
The old, "tried-and-true" methods of business don't always work in a corporate culture this fast-paced. Rather than competing with the changing atmosphere, it's best to embrace the change--and even use it your advantage.
For instance, we're an online marketing agency. If we stuck to traditional print advertising, we could only help a small number of businesses achieve success. This applies with operations, sales and overall business methods. Stay on top of your own shifting landscape. For our part, we're constantly learning new techniques and discovering new technologies that help us stay ahead of the curve and reach the greatest number of people through the most mediums and venues that we possibly can.
Apply the same principle to your business: Test new software. Read up on new developments. Change is a little scary, but that doesn't mean you should cower from it. Face the times, change with the times, and be glad you did.
Joe Apfelbaum brings more than thirteen years to the online business, technology and marketing community. As CEO and co-founder of Ajax Union, he has been featured on Fox Business Network and was selected as a Certified Google Trainer.