My good friend Mike Rogers (ex-IDG, Reed Business, Knight Ridder) posted a comment in response to my statement that the six skills covered in Six for ’06 were “the” six necessary skills for the new millenium. He raised his hand to say “but what about the customer?”. Good question, Mike.
We didn’t re-state the importance of customer focus in part because it’s almost a given. I am a devout believer in the the importance of knowing your customer intimately and putting them at the heart of the business. That’s why we have invested heavily in creating a panel of small business leaders. And it was that research that lead us to identify these six skills as the backbone of our editoral efforts for this year. Indeed it would be hard to write a growth oriented business plan or write an effective internet marketing plan without a strong sense of the customer.
At the same time, we want to draw a sharp distinction between the skills that have enabled people to build their businesses and the skills that they need to take the business forward. The most important customer insight is that the internet has profoundly changed how customers in every business category gather information and shop for products. If you don’t adapt how you go to market, knowing what your customers eat for breakfast or watch on TV won’t cushion the blow of radical change.