An early 7 am train from Perth to Edinburgh, travelling through the beautiful Scottish countryside on a fresh May morning. I’m on my way to The Amazon Enterprise Academy session at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). It’s Tuesday and I’m going to see how my graduates can be supported by events like this and new digital products, such as Amazon’s ‘Alexa’.
09.15 and it’s a frenzy of chatter in the front entrance of EICC as guests drink their morning coffee and confer with friends old and new as to what the day ahead holds. Enterprise Nation, Scottish Enterprise, Amazon Academy have come together to create a day-long event to provide free advice and practical support to help SMEs from across Scotland to succeed in the digital economy.
As someone who comes from a family with their own small business and a wider history of business owners, as well as being a design educator with a passion for enterprise and entrepreneurship. I’m here to learn more about how to use the power of the internet and technology to grow a company, boost export sales and improve the customer experience. I suppose, as much as anything, I’m also looking to hear speakers who will provide ‘how to’ advice and insights, as well as discussing some of the broader issues facing businesses today in Scotland.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation opens the proceedings and welcomes everyone, immediately acknowledging the tragic incident in Manchester the evening before, noting sincere condolences and thoughts to everyone affected.
Edinburgh is introduced as the largest Amazon Enterprise event in the UK, with over 600 people registering to attend! Scotland’s got major digital appetite is the message.
The next 25 points are my key take aways; in themselves, they’re not new or unexpected, but they do reiterate their relevance to today’s pioneering minds:
- Work on the business and don’t just work in it.
- Ruthlessly prioritise your time
- Practice Patience.
- Outsource where you can e.g. Customer Service, Human Resources
(What is your unproductive behaviour as a company? Can this be outsourced?)
- Be willing to go out and learn about what you don’t know
- Don’t be a dinosaur when it comes to digital tech
– build your awareness of digital tools for business
– check out CodeBase and-or CodeClan
– check out Amazon Alexa , Alexa Skill Set
- Surround yourself with mentors
– ‘cool’ and ‘wise’ and ‘different to you’
- Ensure your website isn’t just a list of stuff
– Personalise the human experience.
– Make it engaging. Make engagement easy.
– Measure the engagement.
– Talk with your customers.
– Add a bit of colour and tell the real story of entrepreneurship
– Be Local and Sell Global
- R&R. There is a reason sports clubs have ‘off’ seasons – for rest, recuperation and growth. A company needs this too. When is yours?.
- Understand your product as part of a ‘constellation’ in a consumer’s life.
Every product connects to other things a person maybe interested in. Understand this, and pre-empt where they might want to connect your product / service.
- Find out more about Amazon Marketplace. Why? They say 60% of people using Amazon Marketplace export their products, yet only 1 in 4 businesses in the UK who don’t use it, export.
- It’s no problem. Whatever it is, it’s no problem, you can do it.
- Be bold.
- Commit to what your doing. Fully.
- Know the touch points that your customers have with your product / service.
– Traditional marketing remains very relevant; a great way to introduce your brand
– Digital marketing can lead to wider coverage through traditional media
– Understand how Instagram and Facebook can generate product demand
- Profitability – understand where you are actually making profit in your business
– Don’t worry about short term profitability
– understand the long view
- Do a lot of work on product testing. Focus on improving your product – build in ways to share your product and make sure your product is great at solving a real problem.
- Resilience – where is it? where do you need it? Build it.
- Increasing the profitability and increasing resilience will naturally lead to increased productability.
- Have a healthy level of unreasonable-ness in your approach and a healthy level of over achievement
- Mantras – what are yours?
– Reach for the Stars and Land on the Moon
– Have fun and get stuff done
– Start small, think big
– Work hard and don’t be scared to fail
– Celebrate difference
- Design your work space and its culture
– Paint the values on the wall
– encourage autonomy within teams, individuals responsible for their own KPIs
- Awards are great but they can be a comfort blanket and you can lose business opportunities because you’re not driving the business forward.
- Advertising & Listings
– Use Paid advertising
– there is no gain in having lots of listings
– Use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to make sure your listings are strong.
- Amazon Prime – offers next day delivery in any country. A small independent can’t offer this. Learn to leverage this as an asset for a small business