In the world of small business, there is no comfort zone. Usually, an owner is moving forward or falling behind. Omaha marketing entrepreneur Joe Kenney always has had the uncanny ability to look at a problem from every conceivable angle and come up with an innovative and out-of-the-box solution. Such an intuitive skill is a huge advantage in the world of small business, and it is one of the reasons Kenney, the founder, and president of 316 Strategy Group, is Nebraska’s leader in social media management and recognized nationally for their bottom line results.
Kenney is also a national speaker with a proven authority in business practices, digital media, and marketing. He has trained his 316 Strategy Group teams to view business clients and their day-to-day operations from totally different vantage points than anyone else would see. Once they decide on solutions, Kenney and 316 Strategy Group use their award-winning digital-media team and web designers to create successful business strategies, build effective organizations and deliver marketing and sales results. 316 Strategy is known for evaluating cutting-edge technology and trends and using them in ways that put its clients one step ahead in the marketplace.
Sometimes a solution is not palatable because of a business’s old perspective and practices. “But we’ve always done it that way” is something Kenney hears too often after he’s been called to help a business. Kenney and 316 Strategy Group met with nearly 250 businesses in 2017, including 50 new client businesses. Of those 50, more than 30 businesses were desperate and near failure. Kenney explained, “We were one of their last resorts, if not their last hope. With the wrong perspective, failure is ugly and sometimes final. It brings out the worst in business owners, employees and their customers.”
Kenney and 316 Strategy Group have been recognized for a strong track record of turning around businesses in a short time. As seasoned and successful business consultants, Kenney and his associates have seen or heard just about every business strategy from prospective clients. Kenney and 316 Strategy Group aren’t easily surprised, but one thing’s for sure – failure is never easy. In a question-and-answer, Kenney detailed unsuccessful, skewed perspectives he has experienced and how 316 Strategy Group works to offer alternative solutions.
Question: What’s the secret to your success of turning around a business?
Kenney: “To put it in simple terms, we look at the business with a different perspective or through a different lens. In the discovery phase, we listen intently and ask all the right questions. But we leave open the likely possibility the owners have lost their perspective. Their ability to answer questions without extreme bias sometimes is nonexistent.”
Question: Please give us an example.
Kenney: “I recall a business telling us they weren’t open Sundays because their customers ‘wouldn’t eat that type of food on Sundays.’ Perplexed, we asked more questions. It was clear the owners believed that statement. We couldn’t change that in the discovery phase. We knew plenty of people who ate that type of food on Sundays. Their answer, as odd as it was, was their defense mechanism – and excuse – for their business failures.”
Question: How do you handle that situation?
Kenney: “As strategists, it’s not our job to challenge them at that moment. They are comfortable in the midst of that struggle, and our challenges aren’t welcome. It is our job to begin crafting a plan to show them opportunities to pivot from failure and move in a different direction. No, failing is never easy. What’s even harder is finding the strength and the will to bounce back from business struggles. Those who make it out of those dark times are few in number. It’s a misnomer in business that many business owners fail due to the fear of failure. I wholeheartedly disagree.”
Question: So, the idea of failure doesn’t seem so bad to some business owners? Are you saying they are actually resigned to mediocre or failed business practices and accept them?
Kenney: “Fear of failure is familiar to many small business owners. Perhaps that’s why many owners willingly stay in a constant state-of-survival mode. As crazy as it sounds, the ‘panic/near-disaster/narrow survival’ cycle is well-known terrain, and they become content with it. Business success, on the other hand, is uncharted land that poses unintended consequences. Shockingly, the consequences of successful outcomes turn out to be so foreign and unfamiliar that struggling business owners seem to want to avoid it because they have no idea how to deal with it. Because of the unfamiliar road, fear of success runs rampant among small-business owners.”
Question: You are known for marketing miracles. Tell us about one.
Kenney: “Three years ago, we met with a local business owner who was struggling to take care of basic needs of food and shelter. At our first meeting, it was clear the owner wasn’t ready for our team to make the changes necessary for success. We knew their timeline was running out. A year and a half later, we met with the business owner a second time. Their situation had worsened, and the outlook was bleak. We asked if they were ready. They were. We were about to rock their world. We informed them of our intent to do a total rebrand. They were devastated at the thought of it. They weren’t ready for what was next. We then informed them their business would cease to exist unless we closed their doors and moved to a better location. Now, 18 months later, the business is booming.”
Question: What’s the bottom line for someone who is struggling?
Kenney: “Truly, the fear of failure starts in the mind. When presented with an opportunity that has an unknown trajectory, your mind instantly starts to formulate different scenarios that usually don’t resolve in a pleasant outcome. It’s a defense mechanism. In order to counteract this business-crippling habit, we suggest business owners take time to pause, especially as they approach the year’s end. Taking the time to view their business from a different vantage point can have a lasting impact on a struggling business. Listening to the needs of your customers, becoming a customer of your own business and having an open mind are just a few ways to jump-start your business in the New Year. But it’s only a start. Wanting help is the next step. Learning to deal with the ‘fallout’ of success really isn’t that difficult if you have someone who comes alongside and helps you think about your next move. We do that.”
Connect With 316 Strategy Group:
316 Strategy Group is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and has operations in Des Moines and Nashville.
Nebraska Phone: 402-415-9842
Iowa & Tennessee: 515-490-0251