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Listening is a key part of how we do business. Good listening can lead to a more collaborative, productive and inspired workplace. Plus, businesses who listen to their outside audiences prove to be more successful because they understand their audiences, can adapt to their shifting needs, and are constantly engaging to make the brand relationship stronger.
Being a good listener is a valuable life skill, especially in business management, where the ability to actually hear what others say is critical. Founder and managing executive of people development agency Great Seed Talent, Zola Thekiso shares top three reasons why listening is such a vital tool for owners and individuals in any business.
1/ Listening inwardly, aka trusting your gut
When most entrepreneurs go into business, they listen to something inside themselves – like a gut feel or instinct. “It is through hearing and responding to this desire that you begin to make the bold move to start a business,” says Zola. “Throughout your business journey, you also need to check within yourself as you make decisions. You may hear entrepreneurs say, ‘I had a feeling…’ or ‘I trusted my gut’ – this has everything to do with listening,” she says.
2/ Listening to others
Hearing others equally as important. This could be within focus groups (or communities), target audiences, potential buyers, mentors, professional advisors, even investors. Listening to others also helps you to learn, and this can happen via your network, support structures, fellow entrepreneurs – even through people that have walked a similar path as you.
Obviously you want to stay away from harmfully negative people (we’re talking about the opposite of constructive criticism here), but “if you listen well, you have an opportunity to develop or supply a product or service in the market that is needed, therefore solving a problem,” says Zola. “Listening to others can help you save money, make money and avoid costly mistakes.”
3/ Listening as a feedback mechanism
Listening is a great feedback mechanism. Once your product or service is in the market, feedback is a good way to measure what is working or needs improvement within your business. “Listening will help you adapt, as the market is ever-changing. Through feedback, you can optimise your business model, product, or even your service to best suit your audience,” says Zola.
Think about a business coach or mentor. Having someone to talk to, who can listen, guide and provide you with feedback can be a smart way to navigate your business journey.