As small business owners we routinely perform tasks that larger companies would associate with assistants and receptionists. I answer phones, research client questions as well as conduct meetings and business development. As the economy continues to stall I have found myself performing tasks that even I have had to sit back and wonder if I should be doing them. What I have found is the silver lining and here are the lessons I have learned from getting back to the basics of running my business.
No one is too skilled for any task
As entrepreneurs we live in a perpetual state of fear that someone is underutilizing our talents or unable to see the value that we bring to the table, guess what? Your staff has this fear too. As an owner you should work at least one day in the shoes of your staff. Maybe it will be an hour, maybe it will be a full day but the experience and business lessons that will develop from the experience will be invaluable. As owners we are frequently so busy keeping the doors open, we really don’t know how the company operates. We assume that people are doing certain things but we don’t really understand what they do because we are too busy trying to close the next deal or develop the next relationship. This trick shows you what’s needed, what’s difficult and what needs to be fixed.
The customer matters
As a consultant, I have the advantage of dealing with customers from all over the world and the one thing that is constant is that good customer service can cover a multitude of sins. Customer service does not mean that the customer is always right, what it does mean is that when the customer is wrong you still find a compromise. The goal is to get your customer to come back, not for you to be right.
Support your staff
We all know that the key to a successful business is to surround yourself with people smart enough to solve your company’s problems. Once you have found those people, you have to support that ability and that means that even if they haven’t solved a problem the way you would have liked let them own the solution and all of the repercussions of that solution. The only way your staff will grow and improve is if you trust them to make a mistake. You hired them, so let them do their job.
Some of this is leadership 101, some maybe not so obvious but what is certain is that going back to the beginning is the key to any successful business. Sometimes you may go back once a year, some quarters you may have to go back every day-Just go back. Your business will thank you for it.