We’re excited to watch “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and find out what happens, including:
- Will Rey turn to the Dark Side? Or will she be the first of the “gray Jedi” everyone’s talking about? Is she a Skywalker, a Kenobi, a Palpatine, a clone of Luke’s hand, or something else totally unexpected?
- Will we discover Kylo Ren is a double agent?
- Is Supreme Leader Snoke actually Darth Plagueis, or created by him?
- Will we see an even bigger and better Death Star? Or will the First Order fix its eye on something a little more modest in scope?
As a small business owner, it’s easy to feel like the Resistance or Rebellion squaring off against the Empire. You’ve got less people and fewer resources than the big guns, but you’ve still got to find a way to win. While you’re waiting to see the new episode, here are a few Jedi-approved small business tips.
#1. Man vs. machine.
“He’s more machine now than man. Twisted and evil.”
The Star Wars adventures may take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but their tech is light years ahead of ours. Despite their advanced technology, the franchise constantly works into its plotlines very clear warnings against unreliable and encroaching technology. Han and Chewie—and later Rey and Finn—constantly try to eke out another few parsecs from the Millennium Falcon. The invading droid armies of the Trade Federation and the Separatists in the prequels always represent a sinister force. The Death Star and Starkiller bases represented unprecedented threats to all inhabited worlds. And the hand Luke replaced represents the danger of becoming like Darth Vader, who lost his humanity and most of his limbs in his pursuit of the Dark Side.
The takeaway? Never forget the human touch when handling your customers. They may prefer self-service and perform their own research pre-purchase. But when they have questions or concerns, they’ll brave hours waiting on hold just to talk to a fellow human. When a customer does reach out to one of your representatives, always emphasize the human approach. No one likes a canned or automated response.
#2. “The truth, from a certain point of view.”
“So what I told you was true . . from a certain point of view.”
Obi-Wan probably had his reasons for concealing the truth from Luke. Maybe he thought the kid couldn’t handle the truth about his dad. Or maybe he was merely sidestepping the mess that was the Star Wars prequels (who could blame him?). Whatever his excuse, he hid the truth, and when he was caught, he tried to explain it away.
That’s not going to fly with a customer. With them, there’s no difference between “a certain point of view” and a lie. More and more in the current market, honesty is really the best policy. Practice transparency. If your company messes up, be upfront about it. Take the hit, and do everything you can to make it right. This helps your customers see your company as personable and human. They’ll be more forgiving because they know no one’s perfect. When they see you’re genuinely working to make things right, that’s a point in your favor.
#3. “Size matters not.”
“Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.”
Bigger isn’t always better. The Empire probably didn’t see a lot of ROI from their efforts to construct two Death Stars. The First Order no doubt regrets converting a whole planet into Starkiller base. From film to film, the technology and the threats get bigger. But that usually just means they make a bigger boom when they get blown up.
The lesson here is to prioritize agility over expansion. Yoda showed that a small, adaptable person (or a team) is better equipped to respond to changing situations and new challenges. When your company can respond quickly and decisively to opportunities, you can outmaneuver larger competitors. Score enough successes and the size and resources will come.
#4. Use the Force. If that’s not available, try research.
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
In the films, the Jedi emphasize how your eyes or your feelings can fool you. Luke has to put away his targeting computer to make the shot that finally takes out the first Death Star. In “Rogue One” we meet Chirrut Imwe. Though blind and not a Jedi, he relies on the Force to help him fight off attackers and avoid blaster bolts.
“I am one with the Force. The Force is with me,” he chants.
There’s a lot to be said about gut feelings and following your instincts. In his book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” Malcolm Gladwell documents this phenomenon. Some people make brilliant decisions based off their gut. Others run headlong into a disaster based on the same principle. When you’re not sure whether to go with your gut, it doesn’t hurt to look for any available data that might help your decision. That’s what often informs our gut decisions—the unconscious absorption and filtering of data.
Don’t get me wrong, the Force is nice and all. The problem is, some of us have dismal midichlorian counts and no access to magical energy fields. For us, solid analytics and stats make the difference in a business decision. At Jive, that’s why we offer call analytics and detailed reports as one of our standard features.
#5. Keep your promises—are the Jedi back or not?
“Luke, when gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be . . . . Pass on what you have learned . . .”
At the end of “Return of the Jedi,” many of us assumed the Jedi would, um, return. We thought Luke and Leia represented a new generation of Jedi Knights. And they’d be better than the arrogant, ineffective Jedi Order we saw in the prequels. There was definitely room for improvement, and the possibility was exciting.
But in “The Force Awakens,” we learn that the Jedi didn’t return after all. Luke tried, but was stopped by Kylo Ren.
But the Jedi could still make a comeback, right?
Then the new episode’s name came out: “The Last Jedi.” Then the trailers dropped, and rumors started: Star Wars was dropping the Jedi.
So the revival of the Jedi promised in “Return of the Jedi” didn’t happen. And when it became clear that it might not ever happen, many fans became disillusioned with the whole franchise revival.
The lesson from this? If you promise a return of the Jedi, there better be a whole bunch of Jedi-ing before we talk about any “last Jedi.” It’s the same with any promise you make to your customers. They associate the ability to deliver on your promises with your brand’s reputation. Overpromising and under-delivering can wreak significant damage on your future prospects. Nine out of 10 adults will drop a brand if they’re disappointed by a product or service.
So make sure you understand what customers expect from you so no one walks away disappointed. For example, Jive has prioritized customer service to meet and exceed customer expectations, with great success. Here are a few customer service strategies that helped us.
#6. “Let the Wookie win.”
“Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookie.”
C3PO and R2D2 get a lesson in interspecies sportsmanship when they play Dejarik—a holographic chess-style game—with Chewbacca. Chewbacca objects when C3PO makes a successful move, and Han warns the droids not to upset the Wookie. C3PO has to decide what’s the higher priority: a limb, or the game?
In business, you face this all the time. You have several urgent tasks weighing on you, but you’ve only got so many hours in the day. You can’t have multiple top priorities, or they’re not really priorities. When facing a decision like that, the hardest choice is, what do I let slide? Which one do I let the Wookie win?
#7. Turn customers into fans.
“You must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to Alderaan.”
Star Wars fans are among the most fanatic in the galaxy. That’s because they’re so attached to the Star Wars universe and everything about it. They guarantee that every Star wars movie, no matter the quality, draws a crowd and earns a fortune at the box office.
You want to win that kind of loyalty to your brand. But there is a price. Fans will hold you to a higher standard. They’ll expect you to deliver, or to exceed past expectations on a consistent basis. Give them that and they’ll give you thumbs up and five star reviews. Don’t and they’re bitterly disappointed and let the world know.
“These are the small business tips you’re looking for.”
Like the assaults on Death Stars I and II or Starkiller base, small business have long odds of success. Eighty percent of small businesses tend to survive their first year. But around half of ALL businesses, small or otherwise, never live to see their fifth anniversary. Those that do make it need to have an X-factor. Maybe they emphasize the the human touch, or transparency. Maybe they’re more agile and responsive, or make smart decisions based on good data. Clear messaging, a laser focus on priorities, or fiercely loyal fans help, too.
Whatever it is that keeps you in the fight, may the Force be with you.
A new small business phone system probably wouldn’t hurt either.