There are a lot of things that a business owner can do right everyday, yet they will go unnoticed. While we want to be commended for making good choices, we have to live with the fact that when things are going well, there won’t be much feedback (unless you solicit it, but that’s another post). On the flip side, something that goes wrong will not only be noticed, it will be talked about, shared, and could be detrimental to you and/or your businesses reputation.
This is a list of Don’t’s. There is no way I could list all of the Do’s, I’m not writing a novel here. Keep in mind that this isn’t an entire list. I’m going to hit the big one’s, the deal-breakers, the one’s that if you can’t get right, you won’t be around much longer.
1. Don’t forget to Communicate.
If you’ve done the marketing and the advertising and the word-of-mouth thing right, you’re going to have potential clients trying to get in contact with you. My biggest irk is when a business does not answer my phone call or doesn’t respond to my email.
I’m a pretty fair person. I realize that others are busy. I understand that sometimes I’m going to have to leave a message- that’s OK. But you MUST call me back. I, like most people, have the patience to give you 24 hours. However, you would be better served to call me back the same day! To even get to this step, you must have a voice mail (or more archaic- an answering machine). Please don’t make me go there.
If you insist that your clients contact you via email, fine. But your response is still necessary and your time-frame for response shrinks dramatically. If I send an email, I expect an answer within about 3 or 4 hours during the business day. If it’s later, I expect it first thing the next morning.
I personally prefer to do my communications with my clients via phone or face-to-face. Afterward, I will send them an email recapping the conversation to verify that we are both on the same page. It works wonders!
2. Don’t have flexible business hours.
Give your clients something reliable. Plan on being available for your business between 9 and 5 on weekdays. If you run a bakery, maybe 7-2. It’s up to you, but it must be consistent and make sense. Even if you aren’t in the office all day, answer/return phone calls and generally be available to your current and potential clients.
I spend my day all over the city. I am rarely in my office at home before 4 pm. However, I have my phone with me and I make it a priority (unless I’m with a client- or in the bathroom) to answer those calls. I’ve also gotten to know my clients. Most of them have daytime hours, some of them don’t. I know that the Personal Trainers I work with are busy till 6 or 7, sometimes later. Sure, I’ll call and leave a message during the day if I need to, but I know that I won’t receive a call back until late evening. Most of the time I will wait to even make the call.
I am definitely not saying that you should answer your phone all hours of the day and night. There are limits you should set based on your work-life balance. But it needs to be just that, a balance. When can your clients expect to get a hold of you?
3. Don’t get political – or religious.
It is definitely OK to have both political and religious views, but don’t share them. Keep those conversations at home with your close friends and family. Potential and current clients don’t care about your views. And if your views differ, most likely you will lose them or lose their trust (which is just as bad). If a client wants to know your opinion, they will ask for it.
4. Don’t forget about the people who have helped you.
Your best marketing tool, no matter who you are or what you do, is word-of-mouth. People that have worked with you and your business and have liked what you did for them will tell other people. Thank them for their referrals. Thank them for the awesome comment they left on your facebook page. Don’t forget that they are the one’s keeping you in business.
Don’t forget about your family and friends. Most likely, they are sacrificing something for you to be successful. My family has been absolutely priceless in my business endeavors. I have their full support, and there is nothing more important. As for my friends, I am constantly digging through their brains with ridiculous questions and ideas to help make my business better. These are the same friends that are telling others about me. I know there are people out there doing the same for you.
5. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
This is just a reminder to move at a pace that you can afford both physically and financially. There’s no sense putting up a billboard if your store front is still under construction.
Don’t go spending a few thousand on hardware upgrades until you actually have enough clients to support that cost and necessity.
Be thoughtful about the next step before you jump.