7 Business Lessons Learned from Detroit

by Cam Secore April 15, 2016
April 15, 2016

Cities operate like businesses. Flourishing populations, bustling commerce, and a steady flow of tourism keeps the machine running strong. Detroit, once housing one of the United States’ strongest industries, has fallen to a dismal state.

However, in keeping upbeat like Motown tempo, there are a number of lessons to extract from Detroit’s current state of affairs.

Keep Employees

The recent recession came with a surge of layoffs. Detroit lost more than half its population since 1960, lessening its internal strength and skills. That’s what owners do when they let talent go in exchange for an alleviation in salary expenses.

Trainees become seasoned workers and a strong population inspires future growth. Unless a business is in dire need to scale down, there’s no benefit in getting smaller in number.

Maintain Leads

By 2009, Detroit had an unemployment rate of 27%. A significant portion of unemployed citizens is similar to a decline in business leads. When businesses see an influx in demand, lead generation sometimes takes a backseat to production. The disruption in lead generation can backfire, especially for a young business that cannot depend on a steady flow of leads.

If you achieve an aspired number of leads, increase it. Meeting production should not take resources away from maintaining leads.

Create Order

Detroit has the highest crime rate in America, five times the national average. Discord creates tension and anxiety, and tension spells disaster for businesses. Aside from fears of layoffs, managers and executives must keep the peace between employees, and if part of the business model, study how employees treat customers and vice versa.

Aside from a pledge to provide skills, employees want to feel respected and valued by cohorts and executives. Personal disharmony both directly and indirectly influences business production. Happy employees make for productive and efficient employees.

Keep Up Appearances

40% of Detroit’s streetlights don’t work. Aside from safety concerns, it expresses poor management and care for appearance. What do Detroit’s visitors think of broken or unused resources? Poor appearance creates a bad impression, similar to that made by a poorly lit or dirty looking place of business.

Keep up appearances at the office by dressing walls, hiring cleaning services, and shying away from the web 2.0 trend of casual dress. Those dressed well follow suit when it comes to work and production.

Follow Through

78,000 structures within city limits are abandoned. Due to botched cost estimations, lost labor and opportunity, or skittish investors, 66,000 lots are vacant too. The city lacks follow through when it comes to started projects. Half-assed social media campaigns, neglected blogs, and shoddy digital content is akin to Detroit’s abandoned structures.

Follow through on started projects. Success requires assessment, and sometimes modification, but quitting is for losers. Rather than make a habit of abandoning business endeavors, place more emphasis on proper planning. Measure twice and cut once.

Respect Consumers

1 in 12 fires start purposefully; Detroit’s citizens are literally burning the city down. It’s similar to neglected customer service. Today, with a bevy of social outlets, consumers are not shy to express chagrin and distaste for brands, especially those they otherwise advocate.

More consumers use mobile devices to make purchases, and most sales cycles begin with social proof and friendly suggestions regarding desired goods and services. Small businesses thrive and die depending on its success to build advocacy and champion a family of growing consumers.

Build to Scale

Detroit’s overall population fell at a greater rate than municipal jobs, adding to public financial problems. Those with more money did not suffer through Detroit’s decline like those with less socioeconomic opportunities. It’s equivalent to low-tier workers increasing productivity with little return while executives and managers grow rich.

Build a business like a community – with all members benefiting from increased revenue and success. Building a business with an end goal to sell or get rich quick inspires selfish decisions that benefit a small portion of the team.

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