At a recent networking event, I asked a local business leader what his philosophy was for the New year. "Cautious aggressiveness" was his reply. A bit of an oxymoron, I admit, but I was intrigued so probed a little further.
He went on to explain that over the last 18 months during the recession, his company responded like many others. They reduced their workforce and cut expenses in all areas. They watched every penny. They put a hold on development and growth and simply tried to maintain.
But now, with the dawning of the New Year, optimism for a recovering economy is turning into reality. His company is starting to allocate resources toward the development of new products and markets. They are however, investing in this development in a conservative manner due to limited resources.
To ensure that they are using their resources in the most efficient and effective manner, they are consulting with their customer advisory council for direction. They will be asking their customers where they are investing for the future, what they need to be successful, and how his company can help them get there.
I'm confident that he will get the answers he needs from his customers. They are the experts after all! In fact, at another advisory council meeting earlier this year, we asked those seated at the table how long they had been in the industry. Collectively, they had been working in the industry 282 years! Pretty impressive. And yes, I think that makes them the experts!
So if you're looking for direction on where to allocate resources in the New Year, bring your top customers together and simply ask them. Ask where they are investing. Ask what they need to be successful, and ask how you can help them. You'll leave with the answers you need and more importantly, the confidence to move forward.