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Feeling the effects of inflation? Here’s how your business can deal.

April 6, 2022

Sorry, can’t come to the phone. Too busy buying up Twitter shares.

In this week's edition:

  • Strategies for coping with the rising prices of goods and services.
  • How to capitalize on your competitors’ screwups.
  • Bringing inclusivity into your internal and external communications.
  • Why you shouldn’t automatically hire the candidate with an MBA.


How your business can deal with rising inflation

Say it isn’t so.
We wish we could. But in February, the U.S. rate of inflation — the increase in prices for goods and services — rose to 7.9% compared to last year. And yes, that’s the highest increase for the consumer price index in 40 years.

Yikes. Why is this happening now?
Add together employee shortages, supply chain disruptions, and a post-COVID lockdown wave of high consumer demand, and you’ve got a recipe for rising prices in products and services. Plus, with the continuing crisis in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions imposed against Russia, we’re also seeing a surge in prices for gas and other raw materials.

And according to economists, this upward trend for prices isn’t reversing anytime soon (we’re talking years).

Okay, but what does that mean for my business?
SMBs will likely need to increase their own prices to make up for the rising prices of, well, everything else. But there are ways you can address inflation in your business and cushion the changes for your customers.

  • Lean on what makes your business unique. Which of your products are always flying off the shelves? What services do your customers come back for time and time again? Focus on improving the goods and services that differentiate you from your competitors and double down on advertising them to your customers.
  • Strategize your new pricing model. Inflation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to increase all your prices across the board and leave it at that. But if you do increase your prices, you can create bundles that connect your less popular products with your high-selling goods or offer complimentary services and warranties.

👉 Learn more about these strategies.


Your competitor screwed up. Capitalize on it.

That sounds harsh.
Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition! Because no matter what industry you’re in, there’s a business out there that does something similar to what you do. Meaning, your customer base is spoiled for choice.

But there are times when you can pull ahead of similar businesses in your industry. Namely, when your competitors make mistakes.

Heard of AirTags, Apple’s tracking devices? Although they were designed to help people find personal objects like keyrings, there have been numerous reports of AirTags being used for stalking and theft. And while AirTags have since been updated with anti-stalking measures, their competitor Tile recently introduced their own anti-stalking safety feature to take advantage of Apple’s bad PR.

I can’t take on Apple!
Maybe not, but you know who your true competitors are. And you can keep an eye out for moments where they fail to reach the bar and capitalize on their mistakes. Here’s how:

  • Perform a competitor analysis. How well do you truly know your competition? Run a SWOT analysis of their business to track their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It will help you determine the errors and mistakes that you can capitalize on. Hot tip: Skim their customer reviews and social media comments. What are their customers gushing about? And more importantly, why are they complaining?
  • Be proactive. Once you’ve completed your analysis, don’t sit back. First, ensure that your business isn’t making the same errors as your competitors. Next, look at your competition’s biggest weakness and think about how your own business can address their customers’ needs.

👉 Find more tips.


Making your business’s language more inclusive

Define “inclusive.”
Words matter. Your choice of language impacts your company culture, which has far-reaching effects on how you connect with your audience and customers. Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, respects all people, and is sensitive to differences — which means avoiding terms that imply racism, sexism, or biased views on a group of people. To create a truly inclusive culture and brand, it’s crucial to look at how people in all areas of your company are using language.

I’m with you. But can I get some examples?
Sure. A term like “chairman” might seem fairly innocent, but it implies male dominance as the norm for a position of power, when “chair” or “chairperson” would suffice. Same goes for terms like “whitelisted” or “blacklisted,” where color is used to define approval (white) or disapproval (black). And while calling a female manager a “girl boss” might feel like a compliment, it makes an unnecessary distinction between the genders.

How can I make sure my business is being inclusive in its comms?
Thought you’d never ask. Here are a few ways you can make sure your company is using inclusive language:

  • Review job postings to ensure language neutrality. Job postings are littered with non-neutral language. The term “competitive” has been shown to push away female applicants, as do “hacker” and “ninja.” (Also, what does that even mean? Does the applicant need to have sweet nunchaku skills?)
  • Create a guide to inclusive language. The Harvard Business Review recommends pairing “internal company guidance that includes practical, accessible tips that can be put into immediate action (for example, an inclusive vocabulary reference guide).” Seeing how non-inclusive language can repel marginalized populations from a company, investing in a guide is also an investment in attracting and retaining diverse talent.

👉 Discover more inclusive language strategies.


Why employees make less money with MBA leadership

The facts:
A National Bureau of Economic Research study revealed that businesses who hire employees with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees saw overall declining pay for all reporting employees. In fact, employee wages fell by 6% within five years of hiring someone with an MBA in the US and fell by 3% in Denmark.

And that’s not all.
What’s worse: evidence also shows that business managers with an MBA do not experience higher productivity, sales, investment, or employment growth than those without the degree. Meaning, there aren’t a whole lot of stats to back up an MBA hire.

Really though — should I avoid hiring MBAs?
Well, let’s take a step back. Those who have MBAs went through a prestigious learning experience — one which has been sought after and held in high regard for decades.

Of course, an MBA education in business knowledge, leadership, and management could provide immense value to your business. But, you can always hire someone who gained that expertise via on-the-job training. And if they already have that extensive background and prove their skills when you hire them, you’re less likely to suffer loss from failures that come with on-the-job learning.

Per Forbes, the MBA is “not just a questionable investment — it’s a risk that’s simply not worth it.” The reason? We must continually keep up with the latest trends, broaden our networks, and adopt the ever-changing skills required for success. And that’s not something you automatically get with a two-year degree.

The bottom line:
The choice is yours. But before you hire your next business manager, make sure you’ve pre-determined your hire spend for them and their reporting people. Because even if your MBA applicant blows the non-MBA applicants out of the water, you need to make sure that your current employees won’t suffer financially once they’re hired.

👉 See the study.


This week's highlight reel

  • Started from the bottom... and now they’re billion dollar businesses. Check out the early pitch decks of 29 unicorn companies — like AirBnB, Uber, WeWork, and Coinbase — before they became household names. They grow up so fast.
  • There’s an app(le) for that. After launching in beta in November of 2021, Apple Business Essentials is now available to the public. The subscription service is specifically aimed to help small businesses onboard employees by configuring, deploying, and managing all of their Apple products in just a few clicks.
  • Class action suit is in session. Meta (née, Facebook) is being accused of deceiving small businesses with inflated metrics from ad spends. Despite protests from Facebook’s lawyers, a San Francisco judge recently ruled that the case can proceed as a class action suit on behalf of small business owners and individuals who bought ads on Facebook or Instagram since August 15, 2014.
  • Be kind, rewind. In a nostalgia power move, Oreo partnered with the last Blockbuster on Earth (located in Bend, Oregon) to promote their Cakesters line, which originally launched in 2007. In prime 2000s fashion, Oreos stocked the store with Cakester-themed VHS tapes and vintage movie posters. Thankfully, low-rise jeans were optional.


Here’s what else is on The Manual’s mind

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