Dave Thackeray helps small businesses to get the competitive advantage through exceptional communications. He coaches and creates communications and focuses on driving passion through personality-ridden, relationship-building online strategies.

So I’m working on a new project that will open your eyes to a huge range of exciting new possibilities for you and your shiny enterprise. It will make things clear; it will turn groups of customers into communities of your brand advocates. In short, it will change the way you do business. But it’s not that easy. Not quite. It is, but it needs to be scoped out. Focus is needed on your success. And that means there’s a caveat to all this dreamy unicorns-and-cupcakes stuff: You need to invest.

There are a wide range of ways to go about doing what I propose. You could learn the skills yourself (stupid); you could tamper down your ambitions (unlikely, if you’re an entrepreneur); or you could simply dive in and commit to the fact that with some planning and a great deal of passion, you’re going to take down the competition in a style you’d see on WWF in the late 90s before everything went PPV and everyone decided to go and learn how to cook instead.

This caveat, then. For this project to work in your life, for this project to be the future of your business through building rock-solid client relationships, you need two people close by:

  • A coder
  • A designer

Don’t mistake one for the other. They are different beasts. And I’m here to tell you that the days of outsourcing your designs and code to some unknown island backwater are coming to an end.

You have to put your money where your mouth is to feed that mouth with the food it deserves.

In today’s market everything needs to be symbiotic. You need greater harmony between your staff than ever. Everyone needs to be in perfect alignment. Your dreams, hopes and ambitions have to be shared equally between everyone.

There’s no such thing as a boutique business any more, because the concept of the boutique business needs to be modelled by every venture into the future, thus rendering the idea of a boutique business, ‘mainstream’. The allure of doing something vastly different, smaller, slicker, is no longer the domain of the innovative, the creative. It is the will of those who wish to survive the competitive seas in which your business sail.

The coder, the designer. Your two greatest assets.

No longer condemned to the dungeon, no longer in silos, cubicles, tangled in chains with the solid brick wall upon which their 38″ monitors hang. These guys are not only the aces in the hole, they’re the best thing you have.

I’ll tell you why.

To be successful in business you’re going to need personality and a handle on everything that flows through your information superhighway. Whether it’s social search optimization, whether it’s social CRM, whatever the verdict, whatever the outcome, you need a close focus on what’s being said, done, transacted, eaten, chewed, spat out and cogitated upon by your consumers, your suppliers, your staff.

This is no love letter to the end of privacy. I’m not a staunch advocate of The Mark and his ridiculous treatment of Facebook members. What I am a dear friend of, is knowing your market, how it moves, and how it will be in the now, next, and long-term future.

You need ball-gazers; you need people who can understand both the intimacies and nuances of your business, and you need them to be able to compute, analyse, decipher and distill every piece of information affecting your business environment. That’s the coders, who, incidentally, will also be conversant with the language of your customers and able to perform simple but effective communications tasks on social media platforms, accordingly.

The designer is your wingman for reaching out to your clients and suppliers (for they are equally valuable) in ways they understand, styles they love. Designers don’t just make pictures look pretty any more; they design the way your content is meant to be seen. They go down the route of multivariate testing to make sure their designing ideas are in sync with what the market wants. Designers design the heartbeat of your company so it can be seen in the way you envisioned when you started your journey to becoming a successful businessperson.

Everything you do in your company needs to be on show. I mean this. And if your designer and coder are working together like Torvill and Dean, you won’t be able to see the seams.

Transparency, integrity, smarts. Coder to power the business, designer to optimise, buff the double glazing leading into your office or shop, and making sure that the view is believable, rosy, and optimistic. Always optimistic.

I read the other day you need to have all these qualities to be awesome today:

  • creativity
  • integrity
  • global thinking
  • influence
  • openness
  • dedication
  • focus on sustainability
  • humility
  • fairness
  • passion.

Not only will your staff love you for it, but your customers will buy from you on this basis. Is it that hard to achieve? Doubtful. Does it require effort? Absolutely. Can you do it? You’re on your way.

These qualities need to be translated into physical attributes you can demonstrate, every time your customer interacts. And this means your designer and coder need to share these beautiful facets, too.

What does this mean for you and your role? You’re going to have to cut through the chaff, have an understanding of analytics and KPIs. You could get away with this until now. But it’s no longer the case. You need to be able to interpret basic web reporting, so you can react and respond. You need to be able to meet daily with your coder and designer and empower them with the vision and the plans to get your business – today – from A to the idyllic bus stop that is B.

And more importantly, your personality is on the line. Whether you think you have one, or not: The reason you’re doing what you’re doing is because you’re passionate about making change, curing ills, or even – bluntly – making money.

Do you know how easy it is for people to find you right now? Anything you ever said on the web – and things you may only have said indirectly in a web context – are most likely indexed and searchable. Even stuff you put out as comments on Facebook. Happens all the time.

Scary thought? It doesn’t need to be. What you need to do is beat the minor references with a major effort. Get yourself a blog. Start making videos and podcasts. But more on that, later. You’re the face of the business, so make sure you’re smiling. Unless, of course, you’re not in love with what you do any more. In which case, get out.

Being yourself online is easy. You just be yourself. I was reading this post about being a better writer by Aaron Pogue and I had to reply. I think all you need to understand about getting out there and rocking the party is here:

Like yourself, Aaron, I’m a pro writer. I should be protecting my trade from competition – but I’m actually helping people to express themselves putting their personality first, professionalism second.

Let me elucidate. The best way to add value to any interaction, and to create incredible customer relationships, is to express yourself in the most transparent way you can.

That means doing things in the way you feel most comfortable. If you’re a gardener and don’t like words, use pictures of your work and the odd caption.

If you don’t take great pictures, and don’t like writing, just be yourself. Think in your client’s shoes – what would they want from you? What would it take to be incredible in their eyes.

What’s so great about your business?

Quickly it becomes clear you have a lot of ideas you want to share: The rest is down to letting your personality run riot; the rest is pure gold.

How are you going to make your business rock through the rest of 2010. Do you already have these people on the team? Tell us how they work for you.