Unveiling the Soft-Side of Business Part 1


ta-strategiesAt a first glance, many businesses in Nigeria have all it takes to hit it big in business locally and internationally. Of course, we are good business people with sound business acumen and savvy. I know that you will agree with me.

 Ironically, countless number of businesses, including those favoured by political, economical, social, technological, environmental and legal (PESTEL) factors, are still struggling in spite of huge investments. Something obviously may have gone wrong in their business equation.

 You and I are familiar with the hard business operations like management, accounting, marketing, strategies, planning, and other operational models. Today, running a successful business has gone beyond having the money, minute, machinery, material, and the man behind the wheels like a military man on duty. It requires that pressing the magic buttons that produce the desired results. There is more to business that what we do presently.

 It’s high time we looked at a new side of business that has emerged in the new economy –the soft side of business. This is the new business order, which turns every other thing on in the business world. While the hard business is important, soft business is very, very paramount.

 Suffice it to establish this premise: evidence everywhere indicates that the hard world is irreversibly softening. Our present, run by the intangibles, has gone soft and still goes softer by each passing day. This is the hallmark of the new world, or rather business dimension and you can gain a huge advantage by riding on this trend. Gone are the days when we relied on the physical or hard strengths to get results and take the lead. Times, indeed, have changed; everything has gone soft. Microsoft, the highest valued company today is a soft company.

 The same change has hit our business life, which constitutes the core of our living. To keep your place in the present business economy, you’ve got to be compliant by basically going soft. Let me express it this way: it’s either soft or you rust.

 The business universe is evolving and expanding daily. I know you would like to be left out. That would be very suicidal in this fast-paced business dispensation. You have in your hands the opportunity to escape being a business dinosaur.

 As I pointed out earlier, what drives business has changed, and keeps changing; it’s no longer business as usual. The business operations no longer tilt towards the hard-side but the soft-side. What has brought us to our current business level may not take us beyond this point. There is indeed another side of business, the soft-side of business.

 What is the whole idea of this new business paradigm? You may ask so impatiently.

The soft-side of business by definition is that aspect that meets the human pressing and usually unexpressed needs. It’s the human side of business. This business model uncovers our ‘humanness’, touching our lives on a deeper level with immense intensity. It has the power to attract, keep and multiply clientele because it is human and speaks the language every one of us loves to hear. Who wouldn’t like it?

 The challenges in today’s business life are most those of the intangibles, which over the years have suffered neglect, and also suppressed in most business deals. But the rule of the game has tainted for good.

 This new-fangled business economy is based on the understanding that every person has a need, a drive, a motivation, a taste, a want and some yearning that they want met in the course of doing business. Check it out, in every business transaction; people are hungry for love, connection, respect, warmth, care, attention, relationship, and acceptance. There are never enough of them. And the tougher the times, the more important and scarce they become. In most cases, these virtues are value that the very transaction that brought us to the establishment in the first place.

 How we are perceived as human beings is becoming increasingly important in the new business globe. And the difference maker in business today comes from this very side of business.

 There are diverse sides of this business archetype. But for the purpose of this discussion, we would be looking at two main side of it: the emotion and the connection.

Join me as we examine the soft business that will make you win in the hard world of business.

 The Emotion

How we are perceived as human beings is becoming increasingly important with the soft-side of business, which has emerged as the new business order, or the new business economy.

 We are human beings first then every other thing else follows. And our humanity can be defined as the ability to involve ourselves emotionally in everything we do.  Interestingly, it has been observed that this humanity is most evident in our feelings. That is to say, when it comes to human needs, feeling comes to play. And by feeling, I mean emotions. This is the first side of soft business concept, which we would briefly x-ray.

 Science has partnered with the psychology of performance and has provided us with stacks of statistics from institutions as old as money. They all say the same thing: logic does not lead. Emotions do, driving our decision making. We make emotional choices and then back them up with logic, reason, and data.

 We are emotionally based being. What we feel is more important than what we think, whether as man or woman. Every decision we make is I pursuit of an emotional goal. Put in another way, our emotions translate into every choice we make in our lives. Did I hear you say, ‘That’s true…’ Now that you know, what will I say other than welcome you to the emotional economy, the economy where our emotions dictate the direction, pace and success of businesses.

 Although we may choose to indulge ourselves in the facts and try to convince ourselves that our decisions are sane and logical; it’s really our unconscious emotional tentacles that keep pulling us beyond our own reason, demanding such intangibles as happiness, satisfaction or fulfillment, whether we bought a new car or went to saloon to make our hair.

 As the world becomes more competitive, we also compete for people’s emotion. People, nowadays, buy feelings created by or in your ‘product- service’. Why not create emotional experiences for every business contract, and watch what will happen to your business. Separate yourself from your competition by selling emotion to every caller. By so doing, you keep competitors out and customers in.

 Business is simply the battle of perceptions; there are no best products or services. All that exist are perception in the minds of clientele about your organization. And strong perception is felt and not just thought. When you sell emotional experiences, you convert your perceivers to your feelers. That’s a business miracle, and you’ll begin to enjoy business opportunities created by this value.

 Like you already know, the value of any business is measured by what it means to people. People prefer and refer businesses that represent a good memory to them. ‘It’s not completely important what people think about you,’ Tim Sanders said, ‘it’s, however, totally important how they feel about you’.

Tony Ajah
Tony Ajah is a Business Growth Strategist, and the Principal Strategist, TA Strategic Solutions, a Lagos-based firm that provides strategic business development services for budding entrepreneurs. His ideas are highly sought after by leading Nigerian print media such as Punch Newspaper, Daily Sun, Effective Managers Series- Daily Independent, Financial Standard, Business Day, M2 weekly, BrandWork Nigeria, BrandCrunch, ReguLetter (an international journal), amongst others. Tony has written hundreds of business articles that have been shared on several media platforms around the world both online and off-line. He is also a seasoned idea strategist, trainer and professional speaker and his voice has been heard in numerous establishments across Nigeria and beyond. Tony has worked closely with some of the brightest minds in the industry. He is a member of several professional organisations within and outside the country, and also an alumnus on Federal University of Technology Owerri.

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