What I Learned From the New Steve Jobs Movie

Evolve, change, learn, and grow. It’s the static company and entrepreneur that is struggling to find business. As I was reminded while watching the new Steve Jobs movie, “Jobs,” that those who constantly move with the times and expand into different product classes or product categories are the ones that grow.
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I hear it all the time: “My business is slow, but there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s the economy.”

In fact, there is something you can do about it. Evolve, change, learn, and grow. It’s the static company and entrepreneur that is struggling to find business. As I was reminded while watching the new Steve Jobs movie, “Jobs,” that those who constantly move with the times and expand into different product classes or product categories are the ones that grow.

In the NYC area, we are seeing a huge surge in demand. This is demand that I didn’t expect for the typically quiet third quarter when wealthy New Yorkers tend to go to the Hamptons or on European vacations. While this may not be true across the country, real estate seems to be picking up across most major markets, so our businesses should be doing better than a few years ago. However, don’t get complacent. Get ready for the next bump in the road.

1. Expand Your Product Class
The ultra high net worth individual that my compatriots John Sciacca and Ira Friedman have written about is a client that often isn’t affected by economic downturns. At least not as much as the rest of America. The one percent stays the one percent, so take time to learn about the products and brands that these clients need and want.
a.Train on a full control system like Crestron, AMX, Savant, etc.
b.Get familiar with great outdoor systems that are more than a few rock speakers and under-eaves outdoor speakers
c.Train on media servers like Kaleidescape, Fusion Research, Mozaex, or S1 Digital.
d.Explore higher end projector lines like Digital Projection, Wolf, Runco, or SIM2.
e.Learn about enterprise-grade networking products from companies like Access Networks, Pakedge, or Luxul.

2. Expand Your Product Categories
Learn networking. Take some courses at CEDIA EXPO next month. Clients always need a robust network. If you own the network, you have several great sources of revenue:
a.Become and outsourced network provider and enter into a service contract
b.Networks always require service calls, so if there isn’t a service contract at least you can bill for a service call

c.Get more work on the jobs you do land by owning the network and running the Cat-6, and selling and configuring the routers and switches.

3. Expand into Commercial Work
Not only will it provide another income stream and larger possible client base, but people who own businesses also often own nice homes and can become residential clients as well.
a.Network with local businesses through networking groups, your Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or other organizations
b.Learn about 70v audio
c.Be active in the community—the local school, sports leagues, and houses of worship
d.Let all of your service providers know what you do: doctors, dentists, gym owner, accountant, etc., especially if you are doing networking work and can run their network for them. Then they and their colleagues can later become residential clients.

4. Train, Train, Train
All of these suggestions will mean that you will need to dedicate time to training. Just don’t make the mistake of waiting until you don’t have work to finally take it up. Make an effort to carve out some time. We all know November and December are notoriously slow. Schedule time now for you and your team to train so it is on the calendar and you can schedule any jobs that do come up around the trainings. Use CEDIA EXPO next month and take training there. Speak with your local distributors and see what trainings are coming up, or make suggestions for what you want to learn and maybe they can schedule something for you and your team. Call your sales reps and see when manufacturers they work with (whether you are a dealer or not) are offering upcoming trainings.

You should never have a day when you have nothing to do. Set up trainings and stay on top of the latest and greatest or learn something new to expand your business. You’ll thank your lucky stars when you’re out at dinner and someone else is complaining about the economy killing their business, but you’re still putting food on the table for you and your employees.

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+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.

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