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Are You Listening?

Written by CMG News Contributor, Doug Carleton

Listening – really listening takes work. Listening takes more than just ears – it takes eyes as well. Your ears can hear the message, but your eyes can see and feel how the message is delivered. It can be a dramatically different message. As people come storming out of the pandemic-imposed spending limits opportunities, are you listening, both ways, to what they’re telling you? They’re telling you in great numbers that many ways business used to be done has changed, and you can see it in their buying patterns. They’re using e-commerce, dramatically decreasing the face-to-face interactions from days of yore.

One description of loyalty could be the absence of something better. Before the explosion of e-commerce caused by consumers being stuck at home but still wanting to buy things, consumers had to make a significant effort to look for comparable products or better deals. Not anymore. A few clicks of their mouse, and there it is. They don’t need to just come to you. Are you listening to what that’s telling you? Are they still going to be loyal to just one business (yours)?

What about your employees? For businesses that may use any lower-wage employees, that dynamic has changed almost overnight. Employers are desperately looking to fill empty positions and offering higher wages, bonuses, and other perks to get and try to keep employees. But with wages rising so fast around them, an employee may be here today and gone tomorrow for a better salary. Are you listening for what might make your employees more likely to stay with you or for new employees to come to work for you? Are they hearing that you are trying to do the best for them and that they are important? Your biggest asset – your employees, is right in front of you. They are also out there listening to your customers and the market. They can multiply your eyes and ears.


This blog entry is a slightly edited excerpt from Doug Carleton's 'The Daily Life Of A Small Business Owner' series. Doug was a mentor with SCORE, Startup Virginia, and Lighthouse Labs, and has 25+ years of experience in small business finance including 12 years in SBA lending. To contact Doug directly, please email him at

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