7 things to avoid doing/saying in business…
As part of Fistral’s 21st anniversary year, we’ve asked the Directors to share their thoughts and experiences on a variety of business-related issues. In the fifth of the series, they give seven pieces of advice on what not to do or say in business.
- Cheat a customer, staff member or Government agency
- EVER! The cost of dishonesty is far too high. If you are honest you will never fear a VAT inspection, your tax return, your customer relationships or your staff loyalty.
- ‘Take the mickey’ in terms of quality or price
- It’s your reputation – built on mutual trust and respect – which is difficult to reinstate once tarnished.
- Try to sell what isn’t needed OR Give the customer what they think they want
- This is what gets consultants a bad name, sours relationships, and is just a waste of time and money. Do a proper scoping exercise and find out what the client and end-users really need, not just what they think they do. Sometimes you will ‘do yourself out’ of business – but that’s ok as you’ve been honest and still have the respect of your customer.
- Underestimate your competitors
- All it takes is a change in their, your or the clients’ circumstances or environment and you can lose business. Keep an eye on what competitors are doing and make sure you’re adding value for your customers. This does not always mean cutting prices: find out what is important to your customer, and what they value in your relationship / product / service.
- Rely on 1 or 2 customers for most of your work
- Look for customers and build relationships in the good times as well as the bad. Lead-times for new business can be a year or more – you don’t want to wait till you’re ‘up the creek’ before looking for a paddle… And if you do have a few important customers, make sure you look after them and keep them happy. Hopefully then there will be no surprises.
- Take your eye off the finances
- Monitor incomings, outgoings (real or pending) and update your forecasts on this basis.
- Say “Yes, of course we can do that!” OR “I’ll get that to you tomorrow.”
- Unless you know you absolutely can deliver. Rather, say “Can I get back to you on that” or “I’d like a bit more time to make sure I consider this fully.” Expectation management and trust are important in new and existing relationships. The cost of a knee-jerk reaction – or being afraid to say “no” – without fully scoping and knowing what is needed can be huge: financially, in terms of resources, time and/or reputation. It’s ok to say to say “no”, and you’ll be respected much more for it. It’s also ok to help the customer by making a recommendation – however only do this with someone you know for certain can do the job to the quality you would expect and can be relied upon. Your reputation and relationship with the customer is at stake.