By writing this blog, I'm not suggesting that I know everything there is to know about being a successful business owner. Anyone will tell you that being in business for yourself is hard work, and every day I'm learning something new.
But when I started my writing and editing company, Edit This, just more than three years ago, I promised myself I would make up for what I didn't know by not complicating the easy stuff along the way. For me, the "easy stuff" is anything that makes life simple for my clients. I would hold true to activities that, well, we all should already be doing. Sort of like tying your shoes before walking out the door every morning – you just do it.
Here are 10 easy ways to be a successful business owner.
Treat people the way you want to be treated
Yes, this is cliché, but some business owners take this mindset for granted. How you treat your customers directly impacts your long-term success in business. If you treat people with respect and honesty, they'll keep coming back – and they'll bring friends.
Answer your phone, reply to texts and emails
I am blown away when business owners do not follow up with existing or potential customers. Answering the phone, returning a call, or responding timely to a text or email should be a standard practice. When my wife and I shopped around for general contractors for a kitchen remodel, we called several places for bids and didn't get a call back from one until a week later. Some never called back. To me, that says you don't want my business. We all get busy, but I try to return every call, text, and email within an hour – worse case scenario, 24 hours max. If customers can't find you, they'll call someone else, right?
Never reschedule appointments/meetings
Obviously, there are always exceptions to this rule. But your clients' time is just as valuable as yours. If you are going to commit to meeting them on a certain day at a specific time, my opinion is that it looks bad if you can't follow through with that meeting. If you scheduled it, keep the appointment.
When in doubt, over-communicate
I make this a habit in everything I do with clients and business partners. Going out of your way to communicate ensures transparency, facilitates innovation, and at a minimum keeps everyone on the same page in terms of expectations.
Under-promise and over-deliver
Too many business owners get caught up in trying to be competitive with other companies that they make these outlandish promises they can't back up. I understand the urge, but customers hate when a business does that. After all, their happiness revolves around expectations. If you instead under-promise and over-deliver, you're more likely to create a memorable moment for that client. For example, I told a client recently that I could have a project completed by Monday. When I got it to him 48 hours earlier than he expected, he was elated.
Avoid answering your cell phone when sitting with a client
If you are with a client, the last thing you want them to see is the top of your head as you look down to answer a text or pick up a phone call. That sends the message that you aren't interested in their business – that they aren't important enough to have your full attention. If you know you are expecting a critical phone call, at least let the client you are meeting with know ahead of time. You will surely get their buy-in.
Know your worth
Customers are always looking for good deals, but you also have to keep in mind that most people will pay at or above your fee if they know they are going to be taken care of and the job is going to get done right. Know your worth as a business owner. If they feel they have the right person for the job, they'll be more inclined to give you the deal.
If you make a mistake, own up to it and fix it
This is pretty easy if you ask me. But oftentimes, business owners feel the need to get defensive or point fingers at the client. It's bound to happen where you will make a mistake in business. Own up to it and go above and beyond to make things right.
Use a calendar
I wrote a blog in April about the benefits of using a calendar. Doing so, and staying diligent about it, will make you look like a rock star in front of clients for the simple fact that it will help you stay on schedule and plan ahead. There are a million reasons to use a calendar, so get started as soon as you can.
Don't burn bridges
You never want to burn a bridge if you can help it because the person or organization you burn could end up becoming your biggest nightmare. Plus, it's just not nice. Listen to what the client or business partner is saying and understand their perspective before rushing to judgment. Come up with options to resolve the problem instead of saying something you will certainly regret in the near future.
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*STEVE GAMEL is the Owner/President of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Along with being a sports writer for the Denton Record-Chronicle, Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.