As a small business owner and consultant, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I (and my clients) can do to be more successful. Here are the first five of ten important tips I would like to offer. I will follow up with the second five in my next blog post. Of course there are many more, but these are some great ones to get you started, and ones that I have encountered recently with clients.
So, adhering to #1 on my list, let’s get started!
1. Be Efficient
We have heard this so much it may just fall on deaf ears these days, however, it’s uber-important! There are the same 24 hours in a day for all of us, 7 days a week, and of course 12 months a year. If that is true why are some people able to wildly over achieve and many more miss the mark and underachieve? Even those who are talented, professionally educated, super intelligent, highly motivated, and good people? I think one of the main differences comes down to efficiency. It’s very important to ask yourself at least once a day: What can I do more efficiently right now? If you do that, you will find your business life getting smoother and smoother over time.
2. Do What You Enjoy
As small business owners we often choose businesses that we love, but then get bogged down with some of the day-to-day details of running the business that we really do not enjoy. That is a tough combination, so we have to make sure to take notice when it’s happening and see if we can do anything differently. Maybe we can delegate the task or find a more efficient system to get it done. There’s always an answer, but if we keep on the same uncomfortable path it will just get harder to make the change down the road. So stick to a business that you love, and to doing the parts of it that you love, so you can keep that customer service smile and be genuine and authentic with your co-workers, vendors and clients!
3. The Customer is #1
I am not sure I actually believe the customer is always right, however, I sure do think they are always at the top of my priority list and I believe that they are extremely important to be thinking about every single day. Besides, where would we be without them? That’s right, nowhere! Just because they may be paying you a fair price for your services, remember they are human beings just like you and me, trying to do the best for themselves. So follow the old adage and treat people how you would like to be treated. Why not make your customers feel important? They are! Let them know how much you appreciate their business, and prove that by providing great customer service.
4. Follow Up like it Matters
For many of us, following up can feel like a drag — another thing on top of everything else, or something you will get to tomorrow. STOP! If this is you, I hope some alarms are going off in your head. I used to have a similar philosophy, especially when I wasn’t the business owner and I felt like I was overworked and underpaid. However, I can look back now and see how this was really just business immaturity on my part. Following up with professional communication, has reaped big benefits for me in the last decade. My rule of thumb is to make contact at least 3 or 4 times, spread out over a month or so. If they don’t respond in that initial phase, I put them on the list to revisit in a few months. Often, I would guess that my rate of success is close to 70-80% when I do good follow up for a prime potential client. One last thing about this is not to use only email — pick up the phone! People love it, and it will give you a much better connection opportunity with your new contact. Even once you connect with people for sales, did you follow up on LinkedIn? Did you ask if they would like to be on your newsletter email list? All these little things can lead to great clients, followers and opportunities down the road. Look out for a post on this topic specifically in the near future.
5. Hire Great People
Very few small business owners can do it all alone — almost all of us will need to hire great people to support us in building the business, managing projects, customer service and so on. Don’t waste your time with people you don’t think can do anything less than a really good job. It may take some time for them to become great, but there are important opportunities in that as well, to learn, train, to teach, educate, receive feedback, be challenged and oh so much more! By hiring people you really enjoy working with you will not only be setting yourself up for success, you will be setting your employees up for success as well. Remember, they are representing your brand, your business and ultimately you.