[Transcript]E005: Fuel Your Business Growth in 2018

Nina Radetich: Thank you for joining us for this episode of Catapult Business Growth. The first episode of 2018. Welcome to the new year. My name is Nina Radetich, and I’m here with Brad Mishlove, the CEO of Catapult Groups. In today’s episode, we’re talking about what’s on the horizon in 2018, and the top strategies to fuel your business growth this new year. If you’re ready to level up, this is the episode for you. Brad, happy New Year. Great to be with you.

Brad Mishlove: Happy New Year, and good morning.

Nina Radetich: Yeah. Let’s focus specifically on the market we’re in, Las Vegas. What do you see happening here from an economic standpoint in 2018? Are we starting the new year celebrating, or are we concerned?

Brad Mishlove: It looks from all indications, we’re going to have a banner year in Las Vegas. I think we’re embarking on another great boom if you will. The economy looks good, a lot of major projects, a lot of interest in Las Vegas, a lot of great companies moving here, and from all indications, it looks like it’s going to be a great year. Really looking forward to it.

Nina Radetich: What does that mean from the business standpoint? Do you think we’re going to see more businesses taking more risks as a result of where the economy is now?

Brad Mishlove: Well, hopefully, they’re taking smart risks, but I think that they can invest in their business in confidence. When you don’t know that the economy’s going to be good, and of course nobody has a crystal ball, but again, all indications are in a very positive outlook here for the Las Vegas market, I think you can invest confidently. In doing that, you can feel comfortable that there will be a return on that investment. Of course, if done properly, and invested in the right things.

Nina Radetich: That comes down to planning, right? If you’re looking at 2018, and this is the first podcast of 2018, the planning for 2018 likely should have started happening in 2017.

Brad Mishlove: Oh, yes, or before. You know, we used to do long-range strategic plans. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of those. I mean, I think you can have a long-range vision, and I think your planning needs to look like somewhere around 18-month increments. Things move too fast today, I think, to plan too far out, because then if you’re locked in, you’re missing new opportunities. We tend to look in that 18-month timeframe.

Nina Radetich: You mentioned businesses taking smart risks. What does that mean, and what type of risks do you think we’ll see businesses taking?

Brad Mishlove: Well, I think one is they should be investing in plant equipment, if that’s the type of business, or in people, if they’re a people-oriented business. Of course all businesses are people-oriented at some level, but I think sales, marketing, would be good places to invest, and of course, making sure you have top-flight production in whatever that is you do.

Nina Radetich: Investing in people in what ways?

Brad Mishlove: Well, I think making some great hires. This would be a time to hire with confidence. The labor market, the market for talent, is highly competitive today, so I think not only will you have to have a great strategy to go out to market to find talent for your company, but you’re going to have to be willing to pay for it. I don’t think we’re going to be paying for it like it’s 2009.

I think it’s going to be a good premium, because the good people are one, working, two, they’re probably in a place that’s also doing well now, and to bring them over, you’re going to have to have a very competitive and compelling reason. Hopefully, your vision for your company and the other people there are that compelling reason.

Nina Radetich: When it comes to people, are we going to see businesses becoming a little bit more flexible with the way that people work for them, maybe some work from home, remote options? What are you seeing there?

Brad Mishlove: Well, a number of things. First of all, I hope that businesses embrace diversity, that they take a chance on people that they think perhaps may not fit in a box for them. There’s some great talent out there, if you can expand your horizons. I think having a diverse workforce in your company is good business. You get a broad spectrum of ideas, you get people from all sorts of different backgrounds, and I think that that is very, very helpful.

I think having some level of balance, allowing people where it doesn’t harm the business to work from home periodically, or perhaps maybe all the time, is becoming regular. Nobody wants to spend their day commuting, so depending on what their geography is and how that looks, and their family situations and the like, I think having that flexibility provides competitive advantage for the business to attract great people who otherwise may not be employable in your firm. I think that opens opportunity.

Then if we expand geography, you can have people literally all over the globe today, working for your business. It allows you to attract the best talent, irrespective of geography, and sometimes irrespective of how they can get to work, or what works out for their family situation. So I think yes, let’s be flexible. The rigidity of yesteryear, if you will, I don’t think works in today’s environment.

Nina Radetich: That’s a key piece of growth too, is having those key people wherever they are.

Brad Mishlove: And Nina, today the technology is really good. You can work from almost anywhere, of course depending on the type of business you’re in. Obviously, if you’re in a retail store, you probably need people in it, but if you’re running a web-based business, or a consulting business, or an accounting practice, you probably need flexible space where people can come in and take meetings, but then where they do their work probably doesn’t matter today.

Nina Radetich: That brings me to this discussion about digital marketing. I think with the adoption of digital marketing across the board with large companies and small companies as well, growth really happens quickly now because of the internet, but that means competition’s intensifying, right? What can these more established companies who have been slower to adopt digital, do to keep up with the intensifying competition, and the growth that happens from the internet?

Brad Mishlove: Well, it’s an interesting question. I’m not sure I have all of the answers for that. That’s more in your realm, Nina, than it is in mine.

Nina Radetich: Well, but digital ad spend will increase, no doubt, in 2018. I mean, that’s a piece that’s going to be fueling business growth.

Brad Mishlove: It will, it will. I think that first of all, tried and true techniques for growing revenue still exist today, and I think they’re important to not abandon for the new marketing. We still need to have a great value proposition. We still need to have contact with our customers on a regular basis.

I think digital marketing allows you great measurement tools, so you can see what’s happening almost in real time today, so you can know where your business is coming from. I think it also allows smaller companies the ability to get out to the customers faster, with perhaps less spend, because it can be very highly targeted, with of course the right help to point them in the right direction. I think that they can spend intelligently, get great data, refine their approach on a regular basis, and go to market very effectively.

Nina Radetich: But like you said, it’s important not to abandon the tried and true pieces of the-

Brad Mishlove: I still think boots-on-the-ground is an important aspect of a business or most businesses. I still think that you have to have great products and great service, and you need to be in front of your customers very, very frequently. There are still some traditional things in marketing that still work, and so having a solely a presence on the web without having a good referral program for your company, without having the best-trained salespeople who care about their customers and prospects, and make really great recommendations for them based on needs, not based on what the company sells, I think those things don’t go away. Just because we have a change of media, I think that we don’t have a change in the way we necessarily have to do business.

Nina Radetich: An integrative strategy is still the best strategy.

Brad Mishlove: It is. I also think that today, it’s particularly important to make it easy to do business with your company. People want if they go to your website, to be able to find things readily. They want to be able if you’re going to transact business, e-commerce to do it in not 20 keystrokes, but one or two. We want to make it easy.

We see that in the companies that are very, very successful, and of course they’re … Amazon’s always in the press with things, but it’s easy. I ordered coffee this morning in one push of a button. It’s great.

Nina Radetich: The Starbucks app?

Brad Mishlove: No, no, no, no. It was Amazon’s app to get some ground coffee delivered.

Nina Radetich: Oh, ground coffee, right.

Brad Mishlove: But it was easy. I just looked up my previous order, clicked on the thing, one-click buy, and it’ll be delivered they say Sunday, but I bet it’ll be here tomorrow.

Nina Radetich: Yeah.

Brad Mishlove: I’m just impressed by that, and I go back to them … I’m not sure if I’m getting the lowest price, and honestly, I’m not sure I care. What I’m doing is ordering something that’s convenient, and I know it works, and it works consistently.

Nina Radetich: This is where automation comes in for a lot of companies. Do you see that as a trend or something that people should be really looking into from a growth standpoint?

Brad Mishlove: Interesting. Yesterday, just yesterday at our Catapult executive session, we had a discussion on automation, and how to utilize that in your company for greater efficiency and greater accuracy, and probably most importantly, to free up staff from doing mundane things, so they can focus on important activities.

Nina Radetich: Do you see this as a place where a lot of businesses will be going in 2018, or ramping up in 2018, or really should be?

Brad Mishlove: I think it’s fragmented. I think it’s fragmented, and I don’t think it works everywhere. I look at technology as a tool. I think it’s an important tool. I don’t think it’s the end-all to tell-all. I will tell our Catapult members, and really anybody who will listen, “We have to be able to do it well on paper before we can do it well on a computer.” I still think that applies today. There are so many great tools out there, applications, web-based applications. They’re making it easier every day to have a very smooth and integrated process.

Nina Radetich: And online storefronts as well. I mean, that’s a place where people are looking to amp up business growth.

Brad Mishlove: It’s a wonderful place to do that, provided they have the marketing behind it that people can find their web store. That’s key. The web is a vast piece of real estate, and you still need good signage, you still need to be on the right corner, and people need to know what you do, and how to get there.

Nina Radetich: You need to own your little piece of the internet, right?

Brad Mishlove: That is correct, that is correct.

Nina Radetich: What are some innovative things that you have seen companies do to increase their business?

Brad Mishlove: A number of things. I think folks have gotten good at providing valuable content, and in that valuable content, they now have an audience that’s interested in either reading or watching their videos, et cetera, and they’re providing something of value without an ask. I think that’s of good value.

I think to the extent that the company is easy to provide their customer service, so instead of perhaps calling in, you can now either go on a website and put in your request for service. So for example, say you were in the air conditioning business, and you needed service. As opposed to phoning in, or waiting for the company … or you can go online and say, “Hey, I need service in my office or my home.”

You could even schedule a technician to come out online. I think that’s an amazing service. It makes it easier for the customer to buy because it’s now on their terms, and on their time.

Nina Radetich: What would you say is your number one recommendation for aggressive CEOs who want to double their business in 2018?

Brad Mishlove: Well, first of all, to double their business is a big deal. They’re going to need capital, they’re going to need talent. I think you need to save because growing your business generally costs money. It’s investments in people, it’s investments in plant and equipment. Understanding that cash flow, diagram if you will, flow, is important to doing that.

We don’t want to grow ourselves broke, so we have to have a plan to fund the growth, so I think that’s very, very important. But really, it comes down to people. No matter what business you are in, in my opinion, you are in the people business. We have to have great talent. The people are out there, you have to look hard, and you have to have a very compelling reason as to why you should be an employer of choice.

Nina Radetich: So people and a plan, the two keys.

Brad Mishlove: I believe so, I believe so.

I think 2018 is going to be a great year, and I think you just got to go out and go for it.

Nina Radetich: Great. Happy New Year, Brad.

Brad Mishlove: Happy New Year to you. Thanks Nina.

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