Monday, December 21, 2009
“The 12 Days of Business”
“On The Fifth Day of Business, My Consultant Said to Me: Rember the 5 Golden Rules.”
Things are starting to move now, and you have customers beginning to notice your products and services as things begin to get into a routine. It’s time to talk about the 5 Golden Rules of Business that you should be following throughout your business cycle. These Golden Rules are tried and true rules followed in most every successful business that you will come across. They are primarily common sense ways to approach your business that encompasses all that we are talking about over these 12 days.
The first Golden Rule is a variation of the adage that ‘The Customer is Always Right,’ which is that “Perception is Reality.” Your customers and clients may be totally wrong about what you are offering or trying to do, but to them, their perception is their reality. You may be doing something right 99 out of 100 times, but to the person who is that 100th, they believe that you have no idea what you are talking about. As an owner or manager, you must at least acknowledge their reality as being real to them, and then find a way to overcome it and let them see the error of their ways by getting them to give your business another chance. You can do that with enticements to come back, or you can discount the immediate purchase. Whatever it takes, don’t be defensive, just realize that this is their temporary reality and you have the power to change it.
The second Golden Rule is to have set policies and procedures in place so that everyone knows what is expected of them, and how to perform the tasks at hand. It may seem silly to have these policies and procedures in place when you are a 1 or 2 man operation, but you never know when you may need some temporary additional help, or be taken out of commission for a few unexpected days. If you can’t create your policies and procedures before you open your business, at least create them as you go and maybe write up a couple a day as you come across issues and growing pains in your first year of business. A good employee handbook and a set of policy and procedure manuals will take your business to the next level as you work to streamline your processes, and to get others to be able to jump in when needed with just a quick demonstration about what they have read.
The third Golden Rule is to constantly evaluate your products and services for relevance and comparisons to the competition. Everyone is always trying to build the better mousetrap, so you need to make sure that whatever you offer is as up to date as your competition and find out how you are different and/or better to use in your marketing efforts. Just because a product or service is older, does not mean that it is still not relevant or can perform just as good if not better than what else is on the market. Subscribe to magazines, message boards, or any information that will tell you about where your industry is going, and who is doing what to take them there. Knowing how your services are perceived and how they compare in the marketplace, is a Golden Rule that will always keep your company relevant and in the publics mind.
The fourth Golden Rule is to realize that not everything is going to work out as planned. If you are waiting for the perfect opportunity to launch a product, service, or promotion, it will be a long wait, there is NEVER a perfect time. The key is to understand that you don’t use all of your resources at one time, but you do targeted bursts of promotion and see how it fares in the real world. The best thought out plan may land flatter than a pancake the first time implemented, however, if you constantly refine your technique, eventually the stars may align to create the results you had hoped for. Most business owners will try something and if they do not receive immediate results, they will mark it as a failure, never to be thought of again. If you take that same initial idea that you tried in the Winter, change an element of it, and launch it again in the Summer, you may have two totally different results.
The fifth Golden Rule is to make it fun, not only for you, but for your staff, customers and clients as well. In order for you to be motivated to run your business, you need to like what you are doing, and to have your employees buy-in, they need to at least feel involved in the business and like what they are doing as well. Not every job is “fun,” but you can make it enjoyable to be at work. Create a company culture that promotes exchanging of ideas from the newest employee to the most senior executive, and let them feel like their ideas matter. Do you run a high-stress operation or service? Make sure there is down time available at the workplace or in the field to provide balance and make the job fun. A strong business and marketing consultant, can help you create a corporate culture that provides both productivity and fun.