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How to Inject Some Freshness into Your Business and More Questions for March

Like how to find a mentor and mimicry for sales associates, yay or nay?

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How can I shake things up in my business?

Every good idea requires not only a fresh (and often random) catalyst, but also a new way of looking at things. In the words of design consultant Tom Kelley, you want to achieve “the sense of seeing something for the first time, even if you have actually witnessed it many times before.” That’s why it helps to ask new employees (after about a month) what changes they would make to the way your business is managed. Constraints, such as radically slashing a budget for a certain department, can inspire creativity. Reconsidering an issue in a different physical context helps, as does picking some specific type of person — a doctor, an astronaut or a historical figure — and imagining what they’d do in your situation. The key is to shift perspective as randomly as possible. We’re wired to stay on the well-trodden path. But it’s a place you’re unlikely to find those serendipitous collisions that are at the root of nearly all fresh and good ideas.

Should I encourage my sales staff to use mimicry? It seems manipulative.

If you’re worried about getting caught, you should take comfort in studies that show that most shoppers are actually really bad at noticing it. In his book Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World, Alex Pentland cites research showing subjects identified mirroring of their words and body movements only about 10 percent of the time and mostly only when it was a really unusual gesture. The students also liked the mimicking agent more than a neutral one, and rated him or her as being friendlier as well as more interesting, honest, and persuasive. Just adding mimicry, the research found, made a sales pitch 20 percent more effective. As for being manipulative, it’s no more so than any other social skill employed in the sales process.

I want to relocate, but am stuck in a long-term contract. What can I do?

You can lessen the consequences of breaking your lease through aggressive preparation. Janet Portman, attorney and author of Negotiate The Best Lease For Your Business, offers these three recommendations:

  1. Scrutinize the lease for any clause that deals with your right to terminate.
  2. Understand the consequences. You will be responsible for the balance of the rent, minus the new tenant’s rent payment once the landlord finds someone to lease the space.
  3. Find a new tenant. Ideally, this is someone who you find on your own that can come in right away and reduce the time you are responsible for rent. You can sub-let or assign the lease, but you are liable if the new tenant doesn’t pay. The best option is to get the landlord to terminate your lease and start over with your new tenant, if possible.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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