Monday, July 9, 2012

Small business owners do not take the Golden Rule literally! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Honestly, if we treated our clients as we treated ourselves we would be out of business. In my observations most small business owners have slightly changed the rule to: “do unto others as we SHOULD do to ourselves.” How many beauticians do you know are in need of seeing a beautician? How many physicians don’t take care of their bodies? How many financial advisors are in financial distress?
In order to develop a strong business certain practices should become routine. Leaders not only cast the vision but leaders MUST shape the vision.  It’s not easy but we as business owners have to maintain control to have the focus and direction to drive our business to our destination. Since most of us work better with a list, here’s our list to keep our business going forward:
1.       Organization is the single best gift that we can give to ourselves and our business. It helps to save a tremendous amount of time and energy. When things are in their proper place it eliminates the frustration of last minute running around looking for things. Getting organized is time consuming on the front end and requires maintenance but it saves so much time when you’re trying to impress a client or make it to a meeting. Also, it helps to calm your spirit which will keep you open to new possibilities.
2.       Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help to keep your business on track. The best businesses continuously have their fingers on the pulse. They know at a moment’s notice whether their sales are up or down and they are ready to respond accordingly. Developing good key indicators for your business can take the assistance of a professional. Sometimes spending a few dollars on a consultant can keep you from losing the shirt off of your back. Once you have your KPIs then you can measure your performance against the industry to ensure you’re tracking on the proper trajectory.
3.       Customer, peer and vendor feedback can be one of your best business tools when used effectively.  Feedback not only helps you to know what you’re doing right or wrong but if you listen well it can help you know what the customer wants and needs. It can help you to beat out the competition. Feedback can come in many forms. You can sit down and talk to people but also explore the tools at your disposal 24/7 – the internet. Social media can give you the greatest insight in to the industry and what your business should or should not be doing.  Listen intently because as a friend told me, “when my worst critic speaks I take notes because I know that’s my weakest link and I seize it as an opportunity to improve”.
4.       Say thank you! This is the one lost art in our culture. Sending thank you notes and following up with people is adds tremendous value to your business because most people don’t to it. A current customer is always your best next customer. The best business compliment is to have repeat satisfied customers.  So being gracious to your customers ensures continued business. If they are happy they will refer another customer. The momentum of the customer satisfaction gratitude cycle is phenomenal and has a multi-fold payback!
5.       Take a moment to rest, reflect and rejuvenate! These three R’s are essential to your long term growth and viability.  Taking the time to rest allows your body to replenish everything that we destroy in a day. Meditating and remembering the things that you are grateful for at the end of a long day makes you rest well, gives you a fresh start for increased productivity and rejuvenates your energy to the highest level. Learning to include this time in your day or week will jumpstart your business more than anything else. 
Let’s face it, as professionals we take care of our client’s needs but don’t take care of our own. Harvey S. Firestone said, “You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself.” Making our own business and ourselves a priority will help us to be successful entrepreneurs in work and in life!

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