What advice would you give your children?

The next generationIf today your son or daughter asked you should they go into the diamond and jewellery industry what advice would you give them? Would you be enthusiastic, would you talk with passion? Describe the opportunities… or maybe not. Maybe you’re jaded, maybe you would talk about the good old days when it was easier to make money. The time before the web, the time when everyone was clear on where they fit in to the jewellery industry. You had importers, you had diamond wholesalers (who would never sell to a consumer) and a large and healthy manufacturing industry, and to be a retailer of course you needed a physical shop, real bricks and mortar not virtual.

In my eyes the diamond and jewellery world is an exciting place, and will become even more so for those who love dealing with people. The ability to interpret ideas and convert them into a small physical item {which gives so much pleasure to another person} is “priceless”.

The problem – or should I say “nexus “- that my generation and the one above me faces is that change has occurred so rapidly. It’s hard for anyone to get their head around the opportunities. Those who found the web and still riding the “optimising story “are probably in for a big shock in the next 2-3 years. I foresee another major shift in web smarts, and just like what has occurred in the last five years, no one can anticipate its impact.

I have a son who is currently finishing his 12 years of schooling; he doesn’t really know he wants to do, he has definitely shown an aptitude for business, but will I tell him to go into the diamond and jewellery business? The answer is a tricky one for me personally, because although I am a third-generation in this industry, I’ve chosen my professional capacity to provide services to the diamond jewellery industry. However if I was still in the traditional jewellery space I personally would be very excited, and would tell him so accordingly.

I look at our industry and recognise that some areas are under enormous pressure, such as diamond wholesaling, and the traditional diamond and jewellery retailer. Everywhere you look brands are getting stronger; the retailer it is often torn between carrying brands, and trying to create their own.

So do we run or pause and reflect, when we advise our kids. First and foremost what do they enjoy to do? There might even be a skill set in there, although I have to say I don’t think I will be suggesting my son becomes a pro surfer (his number one passion!)…

If we accept the premise that people will always love to own precious things and that giving jewellery as a gift is such a quintessential reflection of one’s relationship, then you recognise that our industry is business proof, just someone forgot to tell us its not” profit proof”. Let’s not forget that there are the additional aspects of it being a reflection of wealth, something that so many people feel the need to display as a symbol of status or success. The opportunities are there especially if one looks to incorporate technology into your operation.

The advice that we need to give our children is very simple. If you are not adding value into the process you are of no value in the process. Years ago we could open a shop on a main road, put goods in a counter and – with limited knowledge – make a living. Don’t think that putting goods onto a website with all the optimisation is the future either because this adds no value. With this approach they will be wiped out in a short time by those who have deeper pockets to spend on marketing, or are closer to the source of goods i.e. diamond manufactures. What can clearly see that the successful diamantaires have diversified into branding and or retailing both “web and bricks and mortar”

If you see your market as the world than when you have enquires from other countries you would use video to walk them through your show room. Have you hear about the app Periscope?  It’s like having your own TV station on your mobile.

What I do know is that I have no idea how the jewellery market of tomorrow will look. What I don’t know is to what extent will you emphasis to your kids the power of developing relationships. The need for them to study history and design from the past as well as constantly look to see what apps and tools can be adapted to our industry to be more efficient, relevant and attractive to the customers they may want to attract.

I recently read a Harvard business school article about preparing our kids for the future. What we do know is that in that initial stage of our working career, we want to show enthusiasm; we want to show effort, we want to show initiative and above all else we want to treat a fellow employee with respect and compassion. These are without doubt qualities that their employer will take note of. The next phase in their working career will evolve around three elements. They call it the “promise phase” which means they will be looked at in terms of how much they earn, promotions and are they being offered the best projects to work on, or mentors to work under. In this phase they will never get to achieve all three, but should aim for two out of three. The really interesting part of this stage is that they will begin to see where they fit in. Are they very competitive, maybe they want job security? Or to them it’s all about lifestyle.

Apparently if you want to make a lot of money it’s about getting a highly paid job. Harvard will never suggest you work for yourself because statistically 90% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years, the majority of the rest who are self-employed pay themselves a conservative wage.

Personally I don’t see how you can quantify being master of your own destiny. I will say one thing, don’t try and do it on your own. We can’t all be good at everything .You will need others to support you, inspire you and bring skill sets to the table that you don’t have. I am the first to say I could have never achieved so much without my business partner and my team, some who have been with me for over 20 years.

So when your kids ask “should I get into the diamond and jewellery business?” you might be one step closer to help them navigate the journey.

Trade well.

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