We are all one step away from stupid!
When training to be a Master Trainer for the Army Family Teaming Building program, I studied “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg.” This Aesop fable is about a farmer and his wife who had a goose that laid a golden egg every day. Because they were greedy, they killed the goose for what they thought would be a bigger gold nugget in its insides.
Business owners often tell me that they find themselves not in control of certain areas of their business and they make decisions that are very costly such as the farmer in this fable. Being short-sighted keeps them from enjoying success.
My response to their honesty is to ask, “Why do you think this happened?” My children hated this question, but hard-working business owners want to get to the solution in order to learn from their mistake.
My experience with family members who have had successful businesses (not without setbacks) and clients who share their failures has resulted in a list of the following five suggestions to avoid mistakes:
1. Never forget who pays the bills
Clients and customers need to be heard and should be thought of as a “resource.” Reward their suggestions by being an active listener and resolving any problem quickly. Build a relationship with them and you will have a network that will pay dividends. Satisfied customers are the Golden Goose.
2. Continue to update your business plan and look for ways to improve your business
This is a critical tool that tells you restate where you are going and how you will get there. Revisit your purpose and strategies and honestly determine if you are “on plan” or have become complacent. Acknowledge that trends shift and customer requirements change. Continuous improvement will be evident to clients and customers and say “we care.” Your plan is your Golden Goose.
3. Hire employees that make a good impression
Train and give clear instructions as to the job responsibilities. Monitor their performance and reward doing a good job. Share successes with them and your customers and clients as part of a combined effort and team spirit. Well-managed and trained employees can be your Golden Goose.
4. Never cut back on quality
Clients and customers are discerning today and know when they are not getting their “money’s worth.” Ensure that when making cuts, quality will not suffer if prices change. If the quality does change, word of mouth will travel and your competitions’ prayers will be answered.
Stephen Covey tells the story about a great restaurant that served clam chowder that was so good that people stood in long lines to buy it. One day it was sold without the public knowing and the new owner watered down the clam chowder. He chose costs down for profits up. In a month or two the entire community figured out the deception and through word of mouth the reputation was ruined.
Your reputation is your Golden Goose.
5. Always keep up with technology
Whether backing up all the information in the business or having a web presence, today’s business have to stay current in an ever-changing social media world. The latest trends in their industry have to be recognized and updated, sending a message to clients and customers that business is going well and the owner/owners are engaged.
Technology is your Golden Goose.
6. Build relationships
No business can exist in a vacuum and networking is an opportunity to make valuable contacts. Business owners need to be building relationships with not only their clients/customers, but throughout the community. They need to join the civic organizations that not only educate its members about local concerns, but also give back with charitable activities. They need to volunteer their support for these projects that affect the patrons of their business establishment, the nearby schools, the public safety personnel and their employees. These partnerships will establish a reputation of giving-back and investing in the future. Be the Golden Goose.
Until next month, let me leave you with another quote from author, John Maxwell — stupid hurts!
Barbara Hickey of Mableton is a community volunteer and owner of The Etiquette School of Atlanta.