As with many, I spent the last few weeks over the holidays meeting up with clients, old clients, friends, colleagues and peers. I love meeting up with everyone face-to-face and just catching up; after all, so much communication is done electronically nowadays, I think we take for granted the physical human spirit and what it brings to a conversation!
I find this time of the year meetings are more informal and so, people are more creative in their thinking; and opportunities always present themselves. I also find that it’s a good time to reflect on the year, personally and professionally.
One of the greatest things about operating your own business is that the learning curve never ends! There is so much to learn.
So, with 2011 on the horizon, I want to share with the many small business owners and entrepreneurs what I personally feel were outstanding learnings over the past year and what I gathered from my encounters over the past few weeks with the many great people I work and interact with.
1. Treat people with respect and honesty
Whether you are dealing with clients, potential clients, suppliers, vendors, peers or team members, treat them with honesty and respect. Business isn’t always rosey and “situations” (or conflicts) arise with any one of the above groups of people. It can be difficult to deal with but, in the end, you will be better off and you will gain that respect and loyalty back. To me, honesty and respect are two very key building blocks to any professional relationship. It allows for open and candid communication that will very often lead to a win-win scenario.
2. Listen to you customers/clients
Small business owners often do not have the massive budgets for market research. The truth is, you really don’t need it. All it takes is to have regular conversations with your customers, a dialogue. I say dialogue to purposely exclude the “how’s it going” emails and voice messages. You need to listen to what they are saying and respond accordingly; a conversation has so many more possibilities to find out what the customer is thinking and feeling than a back-and-forth email or voice message. By having conversations with your customers, you will improve you product or service and this will help you grow your business and encourage loyalty amongst existing customers, not too mention showing you care about their business.
3. Take the web seriously
It’s amazing how many entrepreneurs acknowledge the importance of the Internet but often neglect a well-thought-out web strategy, beginning with their website. Too often do I encounter potential clients who just want to “slap-together-a-simple-website”. There are two things wrong with this statement: 1) you can’t “slap-together” a website and (2) there is nothing “simple” about creating a web strategy. When I encounter entrepreneurs like this, it’s a quick signal that they are not serious about their web strategy nor do they REALLY understand the importance of the Internet and how it can help their business. There is so much expertise that needs to be put into creating a web strategy and designing a website (the technical part is the least). Take the time to understand this or hire someone (not just your neighbour’s cousin’s son) to thoughtfully articulate a web plan, primarily, how does it integrate with your business and increase sales!
Keep learning and keep growing your business.
Be a successful entrepreneur in 2011. Be Real.
Happy New Year!
Reality Business Consulting (RBC) (www.realityconsulting.ca) is a Toronto-based Marketing and Website Design and Development company dedicated to helping small business grow. We do this by providing insightful marketing and sales knowledge, planning, execution and website design and development, on a small business budget. The foundation of our success lies in our strong business acumen and our ability to listen to and understand the needs of our clients, translating their ideas into a concrete plan of action; ultimately, delivering profitable results for them.
If you are searching for a professional and customer-focused marketing company with extensive work in website design and development located in Toronto, contact us for a “Reality Check; a no-obligation, no-charge consultation.