Increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace is not easy, especially when you’re running your own business. I thoroughly enjoy running a business for so many reasons, being my own boss and the freedom that it allows me to mention a few. However, speaking to fellow business owners in my day to day life, I often find the same old conversations cropping up.
To this end, I thought I’d share a few of my personal tips with you as they seem to have served my company and myself well in my 25 years in the direct marketing sector.
Never give up
Running a business is like riding a roller coaster. Fortune doesn’t happen overnight, it requires hard work, tantrums, tears and time, lots of time. If you don’t see tremendous results straight away, don’t worry. Just keep on doing what you do best: be consistent, stubborn - hustle and don’t give up. “If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill
Establish yourself as an expert
This will set you apart from your competition, be known as the go to person / gatekeeper! This may entail reading articles online and trade magazines to stay abreast of what’s new in your field, regular blogging / podcasting, writing a book, securing media placements, marketing correctly, attending exhibitions, attending and giving seminars, being active on social media etc. Try to surround yourself with professionals, clients, suppliers and employees and advocates who are as smart (or smarter), as motivated, as passionate and as professional as you. This sort of discipline is part and parcel of running a business.
Standing behind your product or idea
When running a business, this is the most important thing you could do; after all, if you aren’t your number one fan, who will be? You need to be fully committed and passionate about what you do to make it happen – after all, it takes time, effort and lots of hard work to successfully grow your business. Running a business is 24/7 so why not enjoy what you do instead of making it a chore?
Responsive and engaging with clients
Don’t keep them waiting. Always be honest and make sure clients feel like they know everything that’s happening, keep them in the loop. Show them you’re sympathetic to their needs and that you care, compassion and empathy are really appreciated. Always return calls/emails the same business day as it’s amazing how many opportunities are lost simply because the person didn’t respond in a timely fashion – FOLLOW UP! This is obviously crucial to running a business whether a start up or established company.
Always do the scary stuff first
You’ll feel better for having tackled it and it sets a good tone for the rest of the day when running a business of any kind. My other piece of advice is if you are having trouble making a decision, then you probably need further clarification. Don’t be afraid to go back and ask more questions. The clients may not be happy or in a rush to gain the information they need, however by taking your time and getting it right first time, this shows you know your ‘beans’ and can do what’s been asked of you.
Learn to sell
Great selling can overcome bad marketing (which no one should have today), but great marketing can never overcome bad selling. If you can’t sell why not read books / blogs or listen to cd’s of people who can? In today’s world, the internet is full of ‘Gurus’ in their chosen fields willing to share their knowledge on running a business effectively; it’s free so go get it guys!! “Work hard on yourself than you do your business” – Jim Rohn
Not all customers are good customers
Never be afraid to say “No” if you feel you’re not suitable or unable to deliver, and say it quickly as this shows you to be good at what you do! Firstly, you know almost immediately if it’s a bad fit as you can’t fulfill what’s being asked of you, and secondly, the person is not who you choose to work with. If it’s the first, try referring them onto someone who can help them. If it’s the second, you may need to move them on (nicely) as they’ll be trouble you just don’t need? When running a business this is very hard to do, but so essential if you want to grow your business with the right kind of client!
Recognise and embrace
The responsibilities you have to those but for whom you wouldn’t be in business i.e. customers, suppliers, investors (which may consist of family members) and employees, reward them… tell them they are important to you and your business on a regular basis as everyone likes a bit of recognition. The more people know you appreciate them the more they will want to help you – it’s human nature!
Rome wasn’t built in a day
So, listen to everyone’s advice but go with your heart as it is ‘you’ who is running a business. Take one day at a time, each day brings a new learning experience. When you ‘mess up’ which you will after time, take it as a learning experience not a failure.
Being uneducated myself, I feel that no amount of classes or school can truly prepare you for running a business. Common sense, gut feelings and interpersonal skills are what are going to get you through (especially in your first few formidable years). Use your common sense every step of the way – don’t trust everyone and if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Follow your gut feeling when it comes to people, places, situations, and circumstances – only you know you and your business and what’s required in running a business, nobody else.
Be yourself, put yourself out there, but be able to read and pickup on social cues and others’ body language. 70% of being a good businessman is being good with people, 30% is actually business (especially when you’re starting up). You want people to enjoy being around you, enjoy hearing about your product, and eventually, trust you enough to spread the word about your service. Be yourself, don’t over-complicate situations with business jargon, trust few and learn how to sell yourself before selling your product/service.
How do you prepare yourself when running a business? Why not share your ideas below on how you conduct your business and yourself with positive action.