Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Erich Joachimsthaler, Founder and CEO at Vivaldi:
What does your company do?
Vivaldi is a global strategic consulting firm that deeply understands demand and growth opportunities from a customer and consumer perspective. We use this knowledge to help our clients connect with customers, drive innovation, continue to grow and build a strong brand. We’re driven by our purpose to continuously write the next chapter of how brands are built and how businesses prosper.
We help companies and brands when the sand is shifting under their feet. This happens when consumers or markets change, when new technologies emerge, or existing or new competitors challenge their position in the market. We help our clients tackle rising customer expectations and the breakneck speed of innovation, two key factors that disrupt entire industries at a moment’s notice.
Examples of questions we help answer: How can a major industrial retailer compete against Amazon business? How can an online printing company establish trust with small business owners and compete against Staples and local print shops? What does the future of the payments industry look like? How to compete against Tesla and other mobility solutions? What is the future of food and what implications does this have for consumer goods companies?
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I am the CEO and founder of Vivaldi. I most enjoy helping clients solve challenges with effective, forward-thinking solutions. In order to grow and innovate in this industry, I devote time to researching and developing new methodologies for our firm. Additionally, I don’t lose sight of the importance of internal branding at Vivaldi, so that as a team we know what we stand for and aspire to create.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
Strategic consulting is evolving. Digital has changed marketing forever. Industries, categories, and competitive challenges change overnight. We live in a world of acceleration; companies need to vigorously understand their always-on customers and deploy technology to keep up with customer expectations and create value.
At Vivaldi, we are writing a new playbook to help clients for these situations. We believe branding creates enormous value for companies, but the levers to create value are changing. In this playbook, we put the customer first and determine how they define the journey and experience they want with brands. Experience is a democracy, not a marketer-inspired dictatorship.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
My biggest break in business has come from attracting a talented group of leaders to our business and retaining them. In the beginning, I did not appreciate how important it is to build talent. I was single-mindedly focused on our clients. I thought that clients brought cash, and that cash remedied all cures. I don’t think this is enough if you wish to build an enduring company.
If you spend all your time on customers or consumers, then you neglect your people and staff. My best advice is to allocate a significant amount of time every week to think about people and identify initiatives to help cultivate the culture you’d like create. Get help early to manage this process.
My second thought: money can be overrated. If you attract capital to grow your business, you will spend it. If you don’t have the money, you will find a solution that gets you there without it. Necessity is the mother of invention.
My final advice: as Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish,” but also be patient. Your ambition can be helpful or harmful. You need to bring everyone along. And just when you have achieved that, markets can turn and you might need to define a new direction or pivot. Never lose the urge to reinvent or try something new. The life blood of a business is change.
This interview was originally featured in USA Weekly.