Owning a business can be hard! It continually challenges us to grow both personally and professionally. In this article, I address seven things that will harm your business. Keep these out of your business and you will set yourself up for success!
1. Over-promise, under-deliver
The fastest way to lose the trust of a customer is to over-promise and under-deliver. When you are making commitments about communication, delivery of goods, skill set, pricing, etc. it is paramount that you meet or exceed any expectations you set.
The most successful business owners I know are extremely humble, open, and honest. They are clear about their limitations, where they excel, and when it is better to hire someone else. This builds an almost unbreakable trust. They usually win more business because their customers know they can trust them.
Before you over-promise your next client, examine your motives. Who is really putting the pressure on you to say you will deliver by end of the day? The client? Or your own belief about what will win or keep the business? Take a step back. Be realistic. Then meet or exceed the expectations you set.
2. Move clients to the friend-zone
Everyone wants to do business with people they like. Yet, there is a fine line between ‘business-friendly’ and ‘friend-zone’ that should not be crossed.
Putting potential clients into the friend-zone puts you at risk of skipping important pieces of the onboarding process, skipping (or delaying) signatures on contracts, or having a hard time setting clear boundaries. This will start the business relationship on shaky ground and can lead to more problems in the future.
It may also entitle the client to reach out at 8 pm on a Thursday with a “quick question” because you know, you're friends!
The solution? Keep things professional, especially at the start. Learn each other’s boundaries and work styles. Do not drop any of your formalities when you start a new client and this will set the business relationship up for success.
3. Constantly lower prices to make a sale
At times we will find ourselves in a place where we need clients…fast. This is not the time to lower your prices, it is the time to find quality leads. Good clients lead to more good clients. If you fill your time with low paying clients, how will you add in higher-paying clients?
If you always have a “sale” running or are always lowering your prices (even before a potential client pushes back on pricing), take some time to learn why you are doing this. What do you believe about your pricing and what you offer? Examine your thoughts and learn to reframe them.
Develop the skill of pitching your services at your prices (with no excuses or discounts!). This will help you grow your business with your ideal clients from the start.
4. Take, take, take
If you are a business owner, you have advice, expertise, knowledge, and a network to share. Within your network, seek to be known as someone who gives, not just takes. Be generous.
Help build up the businesses in your network and it will come back to you. A great book on the subject is Give and Take, by Adam Grant.
If you do not feel like you have much to give, try to get in the habit of asking people, “is there any way I can help your business or anything specific you are looking for?” You will be surprised at how often you can help make a connection or referral.
5. Ghost clients, prospects, or vendors
Ghosting sends a horrible message. Take responsibility and respond.
If you are not interested in a product someone is selling, tell them. If you cannot make a payment, go to the person and work it out. If you do not want to work with a supplier any longer, have the conversation.
Why? Because this shows integrity, maturity, and business acumen.
As a business owner, your reputation is larger than yourself. You can sink your business with a few bad interactions. So, take responsibility and have the hard conversations. In the end, this will take less time and energy than avoiding someone.
6. Pretend the numbers work when they don’t
This one is related to number 3 but takes a different twist. You HAVE customers but are working 70 hours a week and still not able to pay the bills. Something must change.
I see this with people who are just starting out. They believe that if they work hard at the start 'on the cheap', they will be able to raise their prices later. What ends up happening is they set patterns with themselves and their customers that are almost impossible to break.
Make the numbers work.
This might seem scary in the beginning. But if you cannot charge what you need to run the business you will end up with a very expensive and time-consuming hobby.
7. Speak poorly of clients to other clients (or anyone for that matter!)
This one is hard, especially after a tough call or an angry email or the loss of a contract.
No matter how frustrated you get, do not speak poorly of your clients in front of other clients. When you speak poorly of a client, their first thought will be, “what do they say about me when I am not here?”
This is NOT what you want your clients to be thinking.
But, I get it. Sometimes we need to vent about a client! Instead of venting to other clients, find a safe space to vent with a coach, spouse, or another person who can listen and help bring solutions.
Take a moment to reflect on which one of these you would like to work on over the next few weeks. Write down what it would look like to successfully change this behavior. What positive outcome might happen if you change this one thing?
Amy Lynne Coaching specializes in working with solo, freelance, and small business owners. While located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN they work with business owners across the country.