Sometimes everyday business seems to suck you into a vacuum, spinning you faster than the eye of a hurricane. You just want to keep things going smoothly and who can blame you?
Running your business encompasses a wider skill set than most people realize, particularly when you’re starting out.
For an owner, there’s an awful lot of things to think about, take care of, and keep moving, all at the same time!
Which is exactly why planning and even marketing takes the back seat to operations. Why? Because.
For one thing, it’s important to keep things running smoothly— operating properly—and that’s more than a full-time job in itself!
Your operations directly serve customers after all. And customers are at the forefront of all the action-taking components in your business.
In fact, customer services are the step right up and “shake-your-money-maker” central hub to getting sales.
But, great businesses don’t function optimally on a single component or operational function. Being the best at simply what you do isn’t enough in today’s competitive business environment.
So, before you lose your mind or start running around in circles like your hair’s on fire, hear me out.
These powerful business tips are the glue to create a solid foundation for your business. They are the things I’ve learned from years of experience and I know they will serve any business.
From your first day to your last, and for all the business-building days in between, these tips are a solid base for you. Align them with operations, planning, and marketing.
Business Tips for An Overall Direction
Some of the tips I’m going to share with you are indicators of a bigger purpose and expose who you are and how you do business.
The first three tips are an example of what I mean. Each one embodies a moral compass to a certain degree and these kinds of things are what become part of your company manifesto. They reflect who you are and how you do things as well as help increase your credibility as a business owner. These are golden rules you can say—for me at least:)
You are only as good as your word.
Simple, really. As soon as you don’t keep your word, you lose credibility with people. The last thing you want is to create a lack of trust in you by being undependable or unreliable. Those attributes are the kiss of death.
If you can’t keep your word, forget about being a business owner. Plain and simple.
If you hire someone to work for you, you need to pay them.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, is this really a business tip? Are you kidding? Well no, I am absolutely deadly serious.
Sadly, I can give you so many real-world examples of businesses, both large and small, breaking this rule of thumb into shattered bones. More so than any other rule I can think of, actually. So what gives?
I can’t help but think the greed in people is at the center of this problem because for so many, everything in life is about money, and so, maybe not paying people what you owe them is one way of hoarding it.
Whatever the case and no matter how you explain yourself, being known for NOT paying people is bad business.
When someone works for you, you need to pay them. Whatever you agreed to pay in advance. Period.
People don’t care if you didn’t get paid, or if your material costs went over budget, or if your truck broke down. They worked and expect and need their pay. And, that’s it.
Many times over the years, I paid help and not myself. And that’s the way it is and has to be to establish your reputation, especially in the beginning.
Besides risking people not wanting to work for you, you are also risking your credibility. For a few bucks, is it worth it?
No reputation spreads quicker than a business person who doesn’t pay employees or other help, plays payroll games, or is just unreliable for pay.
Trust works both ways with people who you work for, or work with. Any company pulling payroll games with people loses mutual trust and quickly. Don’t let that be you.
Here’s how I know I pass this test over years of hiring—here’s the question for you. Will people show up and work for you again if you ask?
Speaking of money.
I know, money is not something I pay as much attention to as is optimum and maybe that’s you, too. But, the deal is this; the only reason for having a business is to earn. We all have to eat and pay the bills, remember?
So, here’s what I’ve learned. Anyone who won’t talk about money, cash, price, the budget, or whatever term you want to use for getting pay for your services or products, gives you good cause to be leery. You may want to run for the hills because there’s nothing worse, (see above) than working and not getting paid.
My getting paid pay system is simple. Make sure people are happy to pay you. Yep. It is that simple.
When you deliver what you promise (ahh, keeping your word!) and deliver what’s expected or better, then usually there’s no objection to paying you. Happily.
I like to surpass expectations whenever possible and then, getting compensation for your work is never a problem. Try working with this mindset:) It works. Trust me.
Notice I don’t say under-promise and over-deliver but, I say,
“Keep your promise and then over-deliver for the cherry on top!”
Set Business Rules for Yourself
I know, you set rules to guide your company but, do yourself a favor and establish guidelines you’ll live by for the sake of doing the best you can in conducting good business. These tips strengthen the overall direction you cloak your business in for operating at your optimal level.
For example, set a deadline to respond to customers as a hard rule to follow, say, within 24 hours, or as is appropriate in your case. Of course, taking calls as they come in or returning them asap is best but, sometimes just not possible when you are in the throes of a project.
Still, a quick response is important even if it means rescheduling a time to talk further or making an appointment for next steps. Letting a client know with a quick message or note when they can expect to hear from you solves problems or doubts so people don’t have to guess at your intentions.
An update or quick connect keeps people informed and lets them know you aren’t blowing them off and are reliable.
And speaking of deadlines, there’s no such thing as late in business. Sure, for a good party, there’s no such thing as late! But, when it comes to business, late is another kiss of death.
Generally, late is simply unacceptable in business so, keep a deadline at any cost.
At the same time, if a deadline is unrealistic and can’t be accomplished, you are foolish to accept the work. Missing a deadline is bad business, makes you look irresponsible and, missing deadlines risks your credibility.
When a deadline is unrealistic, you’re better off saying so and offering a solution or two rather than risking your word, especially when you know better.
Honesty, even if it means saying, “it can’t be done” is better than making a promise you can’t keep.
Reliability and trust. Everywhere you look in business and at credible business people, there they are, again.There's no such thing as late in business.Click To Tweet
When You Screw Up, Admit It
I know people who are never wrong, who never say they’re sorry, and who never make a mistake. Do you know anyone like this? I’m sorry is a phrase never to escape their lips!
But, for business purposes, I find admitting when you mess up is the only way to go. Hiding an error, mistake, or screw up is like telling a lie, in a way. Being upfront with people and in any situation has served me well.
It stinks to find out nobody is perfect, not even YOU. So, no matter how hard you try, humans make mistakes. Luckily, your customers are usually human too and almost always appreciate your honesty and disclosure and together you can figure out how to deal with any situation, fairly.
Look, I don’t think anyone wants to make mistakes but, in truth, that’s part of doing business, too. The important thing is you are committed to make it right. Taking that attitude goes far with customers and people. And, it’s the thing to do to protect your reputation and keep business, even in the case of an error.
What works for me is to directly ask a client how I can make them happy or what they want me to do to satisfy them in light of the problem. I want them to know I want to keep them as a customer and am willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy.
If there is something I can correct, I always make sure to get it done.
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Sue-Ann is a boutique business owner for more than half of her life! She loves creating original content to help businesses grow.
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