If you should stand then who's to guide you? –Grateful Dead, Ripple
Did you know that over half of millennial business owners in the United States do NOT have a 4-year degree? With skyrocketing tuition and the ‘student loan debt crisis’, it is not surprising that many of us have chosen alternate paths. Taking the time to go into debt and ultimately change your mind later has encouraged much of this demographic to bypass the standard social structure that older generations are accustomed to. The ‘gig economy’ is rising; with the network of SaaS apps that exists today, it’s simple for entrepreneurs to get stuff done without a ton of time and energy. This path gives us life and a feeling of control over our destiny as opposed to ‘working for the man.’
Technology has evolved successfully because people want the difference that it makes in their lives. We can summon groceries, clothing, household items, fuel, beer and even cannabis (in some states) to be delivered to our doorsteps. Additionally, many of us can access our business and education through our cell phones and other mobile devices. This kind of easy access changes the way that we interpret commuting hours and downtime at work.
As clients, the way we value our time will determine the way we want to work with our service providers. If we are doing it more efficiently than you, we will likely go find someone else who we can learn more from.
It is important to millennials that things are simple. Give me the service I need and take my money (not my time). In this digital age, we can look up how to do just about anything on YouTube. It has become easier to find better/faster/stronger solutions with the click of button and judge those solutions quickly by the quantity of stars next to their names. Providing exceptional service is the key to staying relevant in the tech-centered generations, who will rapidly share their opinion of your company on the interweb for all to see.
Whatever service you are providing, your competitor is accessible from the palm of our hands. Most small businesses can navigate an online tax filing program well enough to not get in trouble with the IRS, and they will if they don’t know your value. The younger generation taking over for your retiring clients likely knows another firm they could go to. Understanding how to make your service matter will be key in assuring longevity in these relationships.
Just to make sure you read that correctly, I said understanding how to make your service matter will be key in assuring longevity in these relationships.
Millennials have flourished into adulthood in the age of social media, with the double-edged sword of a superficial quantity of connections and the benefits of being able to find people just like ourselves. The amount of information overload we receive daily has contributed to the rise in popularity of digital detoxing, work/life balance seminars, remote employment and the gig economy. Does your service model enable ease or make things more complicated? Are you enabling clients to live more of their lives away from screens and paperwork? (By the way, if you offer services based on whatever your clients are already doing, you’re doing it wrong.)
When you talk to your clients, do you know their goals? Do you really know why they are doing what they are doing? Whether it is Sally and her new cleaning service or Tommy who is taking over his father’s successful enterprise, being able to relate to the why and provide services that matter to your clients will be critical to your success in this digital age. For instance, I’m sure Sally didn’t start her cleaning company because she LOVES cleaning up messes.
Your clients hire you in trust, for guidance in achieving their goals to sustain their families, employees, customers and lifestyles. The things your clients value most will change over time, and staying in tune with those changes is key for retention and quality service offerings. As you go through tax season, I challenge you to ask your clients, “What is the value I provide to you?” This question will shed light on how well you are communicating your value and may even teach you things you didn’t even know you were doing to enable their success.