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Michael View

A Contrarian View of Best Business Practices

27 January 2016 by Michael Harrison

3d red umbrella among black ones

As a business owner or manager, you‘re up on best business practices ‘" the protocols in place to engage prospects, convert them to customers or clients, and maintain them as part of a stable client base.

We all understand the business arc and contribute to the continued, sustained growth of our companies, right? Of course, it comes as part of business ownership, or a successful career in business management.

So we see tend to see the same ‘tips‘ over and over: ‘10 Tips to Better Business‘ or ‘7 Ways to Improve Website Page Rank,‘ and because we see these ‘tips‘ so frequently we tend to incorporate these ‘best practices‘ into business systems and operations.

However, examine these business axioms and the impact they have on your business. You‘ll quickly discover that what works for one business is a budget-busting flop for another operating in the same business sphere.

The customer is always right. This old chestnut has been around since haggling in the marketplace. However, there are many instances in which the customer or client is dead wrong. You know it.

How you handle client care is the critical distinction, not whether the customer is right or wrong. It‘s not a debate! It‘s a business transaction.

Assess how much time your company spends servicing the businesses in your client or customer base. If you find that four clients take up 75% of company time and nine take up the rest, it‘s clear that some clients or customers are simply not cost effective to company growth.

Have a written, legally defensible terms of service statement, warranties, guarantees, and a simple process to determine which clients or customers deliver the strongest ROI. In some cases, it‘s better for long-term growth to jettison a high-maintenance client or customer and focus on improving the quality of your client/customer base, not just adding more clients because more is always better. It‘s not if that new customer lowers company productivity.

The fact is, some clients are better than others. If your business has limited resources, and most do, you might be better off beating the bushes for better clients and let go of the time-wasters when the contract runs out, or you can help that low-return client find another professional providing your services as a gesture of good corporate citizenship.

Failure is not an option. Are you kidding me? If you don‘t risk falling face first, if you don‘t experience a crash-and-burn failure, you‘re probably too cautious.

The greatest minds failed all the time. American inventor, Thomas Edison, gave us electric lights, the phonograph and motion pictures, but he spent a great deal of time working on a device to talk to the dear departed. Needless to say, Edison wasn‘t successful in developing a phone to chat with those who have passed on. It was a total failure. And what would you talk about?

If you don‘t fail, you aren‘t trying hard enough. Failure isn‘t simply an option, many times it‘s the best option. If you launch a business initiative that isn‘t working, accept reality, accept failure, cut your losses.

Just don‘t let it stop you from trying again with new knowledge gained from mistakes, aka, failures.

Potential client or customer rejection must be avoided. If you have a HUGE file of rejection emails, it demonstrates that you‘re selling, marketing, promoting, and this strategy works. Your queries are read, your contracts reviewed, and you‘re certain that your business has been noticed.

Keep following up with businesses that bothered to opt-in to an online promotion or direct mail piece to a physical address. Just because the client didn‘t want your product last month doesn‘t mean they won‘t want to hire a company just like yours for their next initiative.

And you‘ve made at least an impression. Follow up, and keep following up to all those folks who sent you a rejection letter.

It‘s better to keep a key employee than hire a new one. Isn‘t keeping key employees in place critical to business success? Yes, it is. Recruitment and training costs nibble at the company‘s bottom line. However, decision by committee (too many bosses) creates logjams, but it‘s actually very easy to avoid.

First, solicit input from knowledgeable stakeholders.

Second, evaluate input and change your strategy accordingly.

Third, it‘s your business. You make the final decision and accept the consequences of your decisions. That‘s what small business owners do.

You‘re not there to build an employee‘s self-esteem. Hire professionals.

Never lose sight of the big picture. Please forget the big picture.

Every egghead pundit advises business owners to take the ‘20,000 foot view‘ of their businesses, with clearly established objectives and milestones. Unfortunately, big picture thinking often leads to inertia.

It‘s the first toe in the water that‘s hardest so it‘s better to just dive in and immerse yourself in the minutia of your business, keeping a long-term vision written down somewhere.

To grow your business you must run your business. Each day, every day. Yes, sweat the small stuff. What is the absolute first thing that has to be done? Who does it? When is it due? The details matter and any business needs to be on top of them.

Finally, get good advice. It‘s hard to find. Even this short article won‘t be helpful to all businesses, and it might not be helpful to your company.

You can hire a consultant, but it‘s still your decision. Just because you‘ve hired an outside advisor doesn‘t mean you‘re obligated to follow the advisor‘s suggestions.

Collect good info, develop an actionable plan, and start at ‘Go.‘ It‘s your business. It‘s your decision, not the decision of some ‘expert‘ brought in from outside your company.

And, most assuredly, don‘t change the company‘s direction based on an industry blog post. Listen to advice; don‘t blindly follow it. Lead the discussion and lead the way in your business sector or service area.

Don‘t follow advice. Give it to establish yourself as an authority within your business sphere.

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