Some business owners focus too much on gaining cliental. Any cliental. They equate having paying customers with safety because lets face it, entrepreneurship is scary. While having customers is certainly necessary to keeping your doors open, it may surprise some to know that it isn’t the only thing necessary…
It doesn’t take much to realize that doing business in 2018 is mighty different than it was a mere 10 years ago. To add more discomfort to the disarray, the business landscape is, and will continue to constantly change. The consumer is more aware of who they are doing business with and can look you up on their phone while speaking with you. So for the first time in ever, it’s taking more than just marketing to cater to the more discriminating and sophisticated client looking to spend their well earned dollar.
If the “retail apocalypse” of 2017 proves anything, it’s that people want more from what they consume, how they consume it, and have the desire to consume it better. Mostly however, it proves that if you do not stay proactive about change in your industry and don’t manage business well, you will perish.
Staying current on trends while remaining consistent on your brand lends itself to many opportunities for your investment dollar, the core components of business are actually free. Values such as transparency, integrity, organization, and respecting talented professionals that make your organization go round…these values apply to the monopoly as well as to each and every individual within. Whether you’re sweeping the floors, you’re the CEO, mid level management, or you own your own shop…basic business principles are the foundation to which legacy is made. Without it, you’ll end up with a sinkhole:
Return phone calls –
This is the number 1 way to keep both you and your business polished. It’s simple, effective, and shows professionalism and organization. Never let more than one business day go between returning calls. Two if there was a significant event or a holiday in between.
Having consistency in your business practices is a must. If things are constantly changing in terms of operations, you gain a probability to miss key details and appear disorderly. This isn’t to say that business practices shouldn’t evolve, but the basic premises, or rather the core values, should stay in place no matter what. People need to know what they are going to get by doing business with you, and employees need to know how they are expected to perform.
Use discernment in your in your cliental –
Just as you interview your potential staff, potential clients need to be interviewed as well. It’s hard when you need to hit a certain bottom line to turn anyone away, but sometimes people, their bad habits, and their lack of communication (or integrity), can cost you way more than money. Like it or not, your cliental says a lot about who you are as a business owner.
Save your marketing dollars for what matters –
I would never retain an attorney who’s picture is on the side of the city transit, it tells me that they are too interested in herding cases and are what is referred to in law as “a mill”. While you are at it, pull in that “Yellow Pages” budget too. People look for reputation, and custom marketing such as digital ads based on their recent computer searches. Keep it classy, keep it understated, and for the love, keep it targeted. Which means that you have to know your target population…but that’s for another post.
Be on time –
The number 2 way that speaks volumes about organization and professionalism. Running behind every now and again is inevitable. But it better be because of something way outside the realm of your control. Running behind because you didn’t allow enough room in between appointments goes back to your lack in the the Big 3 of Business: time management, organization, and communication.
Email talking points the day before –
This is a classy, and free way that you can mitigate taking up other people’s time – which is their most finite resource. No one likes meetings, but often they are necessary to get a team in collaboration. As such, email the talking points one full business day ahead of schedule, and have copies for people to grab during the meeting. This gives everyone a chance to know what the meeting is about and to have excellent questions and resources ready so that the time spent is productive and everyone leaves with takeaways.
Audit your work flow/work product & staff annually –
A healthy organization is in a continual state of evolution. As such, there are times where your staff can’t keep pace. This often happens because they flat refuse to either notice, or participate in the change. No one likes to discharge staff, but if after a conversation asking them if they can get behind the new direction of the company culture shows little or no improvement, they need to leave. It’s harsh, and really that simple.
Same for work systems. Best practices should become more streamlined more sophisticated as a company grows. In this day in age there is always a tool that is popping up that can make work product more polished – it’s to your advantage to research what would make sense to implement, and then do so. To keep your business healthy and polished, then know that the larger you grow, the more simplistic and organized your practices need to be. Evaluate often. If everyone knows this is common practice, they’ll be more inclined to self-evaluate just as much.
Deep clean your office & clear clutter –
I’m one of those judgmental people that when I walk into an office, I can tell how it operates. I notice cleanliness before I do décor in the sense that if I’m in a physician’s office, I don’t care if I’m sitting on a folding chair, but I better not see dirt or dust. If I walk into an accountant’s office, a hiring manager’s office, or any other “confidential” professional such as an attorney; overflowing folders stacked to the ceiling and papers strewn about would have me walk out. The lack of organization would not have me trust that business with my social security number, money or my representation for fear they would miss a vital document. In short, the whole struggle to stay organized isn’t a good look for any business or professional. It is a professional’s sole job to keep things under control and orderly.
Once per year, purge your files. Put them in absolute order and this includes archives. If it’s over 10 years old, call in a shredding company and make yourself some room. After that, get your carpets deep cleaned, your floors polished and freshen the paint on the walls. It’s not only important for your business, but also for your own psyche.
Have a strong and reliable referral network that you trust implicitly –
Client’s/friends/family need to know that if you are giving them a name and number to call, then that person must be really good at what they do. Be known to only work with those who are talented, work with integrity and are the best in their field. When everyone that you associate and do business with are high performing professionals, then you end up with a strong and stable network that continues to grow and collaborate. We are only as good as the company that we keep
Be honest –
Saying something honest in a plain way is always right. The truth needs no defense, it’s just there. Some people become so distraught over having their cover blown that they might attack the way you conveyed the truth, but there is never any need to defend yourself, just end the conversation. You never serve anything in your industry by letting duplicity slide. It’s a time waster for starters, moreover; when the indiscretions come to light as they always do, people will see that you didn’t intercede and your reputation will take a hit. It’s kind of like Karma’s very own RICO Act.
There you have it, some free ways to keep your business polished and moving in 2018. Even if you have strip everything and go back to the above basics, you’ll be building something that is much more sustainable going forward. The industries, and even the world may appear to be going to hell in a hand basket, but what is really happening is the unsustainable is starting to crumble to make way for something newer and more altruistic. If you’re starting to feel some shaking under your own feet, it’s time to take a good look around because only the “cream is going to rise to the top.” I look forward to writing more on this.
Join me on my blog; www.jennaprosceno.com, to discuss the simplification of business. Want to collaborate? I would love to! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org