Remember when you said “I need to have my own business, so I can stop building someone else’s dream, manage my own life, and my own time”? Yes, I heard many of you say that. But did you really know what you were getting yourself into? Is it rewarding, YES! Are you the Boss? YES! Is your time your own? Ha! But now you are responsible for EVERYTHING. It’s not always as glamourous as it looks from the outside looking in. And, trust me…entrepreneurship is not for everyone and certainly not for the faint of heart! Let me say it one time for the people in the back. ENTREPRENEURSHIP ISN’T FOR EVERYONE!
There is not one entrepreneur on earth who won’t have a story about the struggles and strife of owning your own business. I don’t care how well you planned, how well you executed, or how much you are making – now. Each day comes with its own challenges and you can literally go through 20 different moods in a day ranging from, “this is the best idea ever thought up in the history of the world” to “I’m a complete failure, what the H*LL was I thinking”. I’m so serious.
There is a story behind everyone’s success (and it usually isn’t a pretty one). Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. You can’t predict everything. Some things are out of your control. But with God, faith, and work; you will find success at the end of the struggle cause it’s certainly no rainbow.
So now that you are right, wrong, and responsible, how do you handle it? Here are my Tips to Owning It All:
1. You are It: The buck starts and stops with you. You are the Visionary, the Leader, the Decision Maker, the Accountant, the Analyst, the Marketing department, and Head of Customer Service. The faster you realize that everything falls on you, the better off you will be.
2. Own it all: No matter how right you are, if your customer is unhappy, you are wrong in all your rightness. So, figure out how to fix it. I know, I know, I know! It’s rough to accept the “blame” when you know you followed protocol. But, believe me, you want to find a way to meet in the middle for the sake of your business.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying give away your business for one disgruntled customer. But do your best to make them happy because the court of social media can make or break your business, even when you’re “right”. Your goal is to ensure every customer leaves with a good experience. How people experience you and how you make them feel in your presence is what will get you repeat business and customer referrals. It’s HOW you make people feel when they are doing business with you that matters!
For example, I used to work for Marriott in their Distribution Services Division. Marriott’s #1 priority is Customer Service. Now granted, Marriott is a $50 billion company and we’re not all there – yet! However, if you want to get on their level, it’s important to pay attention to how they got there. They are committed to their reputation and have processes in place to make sure that it stays intact.
3. When you are wrong, fix it immediately: There’s a saying, “Leave it better than you found it”. Here’s the thing, we all make mistakes, ALL OF US! But it’s how you handle and own up to your mistake that determines how people will perceive you and determine if they continue to do business with you. When you make a mistake, the first line of defense is to genuinely apologize for your error! Your next steps are to right the wrong as best as you can.
For example, you own a contracting company and you’re hired to paint someone’s entire house. You go purchase all the paint, paint the entire house in record time. Your client comes home and realizes it’s the wrong color o_O! That’s a huge deal and a cost that must be absorbed! So, what do you do? Well, remember, you are “Right, wrong, AND responsible” so if you want this person to sing your praises, you will figure out a plan to fix it. A good business person would buy new paint, CONFIRM with the client that it’s the right color, and then paint the house the right color. Then, as bonus and a way of owning up to “your” mistake, maybe add crown molding to a room for free. We’re not trying to break your business but remember these are the people who are going to either refer you or not.
You must consider your mistakes also impede on someone else’s time. Time is money and you don’t get to tell people how to use their time because you make a mistake. The same goes with defective products. If a customer contacts you to tell you the product they received was defective so replace it. Bottom line make it right for your customer as best you can.
4. Plan for the unknown: In project management, there are several categories in risks planning. One is planning for the unknown/unknowns. You don’t know what you don’t know. So how do you plan for it?
Planning is detrimental to business. Make sure to have good policies and procedures in place for your business operations. For example, I write business plans for clients. One of my policies is that I work in 5-hour increments. Just like with big projects, you have stop gates for stakeholder approvals. I do the same thing in my business. This insures we are all always on the same page and you are getting exactly what you have asked and paid for.
Create guidelines that dictate every aspect of your business and consequences of not following your practices. Have good business and liability insurance. We live in a litigious society. People want to sue for any and everything under the sun if they feel you’ve wrong them. I’m telling you all this from experience. I’m very open with my past. I have been sued, unsuccessfully. However, no matter how right I was, if I couldn’t prove it and didn’t have a lawyer to represent my side. I would be wrong in the eyes of the court because someone merely said I was wrong. Two years and $20,000 in legal fees later, let that sink in!
Protect yourself. If this is your first time reading my blog, go take a look back at “Cover your assets”. This will help you make sure you have the coverage you need for your business. A very important step is to teach the people that work for you great customer service skills through training and role playing. Let them know how serious you are about your business and help them feel invested so they are serious about it too.
5. Operate with dignity and integrity: Most people advise that one should do things in dignity and order but I always add integrity too! You can’t expect to have a successful business and you are doing shady things. Don’t be that person. Be honest, be on the up and up and provide the value that people are expecting from their purchases.
6. Celebrate your successes! Thank your employees (if you have them), bring in donuts or pizza. The small things to let them know they are appreciated. This will also help them feel invested so that they will want to do what is best for your business. For those with employees, look out for an upcoming blog on 20 easy way to reward your employees.
I hope these tips were helpful! Thank you for reading and don’t forget to follow @iamrenaybutler for daily business building tips! Always remember, each day you open your eyes is a new day to start your life over!