2 Business Lessons That Could Make You A Million Dollars

1. Real ethics are an absolute necessity.

In today’s work environment, there is a sense that a person should do anything it takes to close a sale. With this mentality, ethical lines are often blurred by desperation to make a sale, and many are willing to offer anything and everything necessary to close the deal. Pitching a client a song and dance, and over-promising the results that can be delivered may work in the short-term, but what happens in the long-run?

Currently, I have a contract with a vendor who did not deliver what was promised. I was promised astounding results, and what I’ve gotten has been mediocre, at best. The hassle of getting my money back is not worth it to me, and I don’t believe it’s worth compromising my own business ethics to get a quick payoff. I’ll let the vendor finish the contract, but I no longer see them as an expert in their field and it’s unlikely I will work with them in the future.

Fair and honest business practices are the best option, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it will get you further. Never promise grandiose results unless you are 110% sure you can successfully and effectively execute the task. It’s a form of dishonesty and will ALWAYS set you back in the long-run. More than anything else, the first step to a successful career is acting with the highest ethical standards.

DON’T: Pull a Bernie Madoff

DO: Say what you mean and mean what you say

2. Get along with people – you’ll get further in life.

Getting along with others can be tricky in the business world, but it is in poor taste to burn bridges for more than one reason. First, forming positive business relationships will give your career a solid foundation and pave the path to further success. It does require an investment of time and thought to create long-lasting relationships, but the end result is undoubtedly worth the effort. The damage from sending out just one snide email is often irreparable and effects how you are seen amongst your colleagues.

The second reason why relationship-building is invaluable is better illustrated in the following story: Recently, a young woman came into my office to be interviewed by one of my employees for a job opening in a company. I enjoy meeting our clients, and I often introduce myself since they’ve taken the time to come to the office. I began to ask her about her current job and she explained to me that she followed her boss to his fifth business. (He had already started and sold four other businesses.) Curious, I asked her what he was like. Her answer was that he was often depressed, and as a result, she didn’t enjoy her job anymore because she felt she was more of a babysitter and less of a colleague.

Without hesitation, I said that he is probably remorseful about burned bridges. She thought I was a genius, but I have burned enough bridges to know that doing so is quite depressing. Regardless of how much money you make, it is never pleasant to know that some people have constant remorse for you. Remorse is hard to reverse and it affects both how other people see you and how you view yourself. Of course, some relationships will not work out, but it is important to realize the value of each and every professional relationship you have.

DON’T: Use your emotions to make decisions

DO: Build bridges. Network, send follow-up emails, and always be professional.

Be Curious About Creativity

How to Uncover a Hidden Goldmine in Your Business

What do you know about your clients? What kind of information can you identify about your clients without having to ask them? Knowing more about your clients is a fabulous way to grow your business. Keep reading to find out how.

Why is all of this important? Here are four reasons:

1. If you know more about your clients (past and current), you will have a better idea about where and how to find more people like them.

2. You may also discover a trend that you were unaware of previously. Like the fact that most of your clients are mostly men, that they are all mothers of small children, or that many of them are from the same area. When you know more about your clients, you can create products and services that match what they really want.

3. When you know the most frequent ways that clients find your business, you can increase your marketing efforts in those areas.

4. When prospective clients ask you what kind of clients you serve, you will be able to answer clearly with confidence.

So what do you need to discover about your clients? Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started. You may not be able to answer all of them. See if you can come up with more you do know.

BUSINESS TO CONSUMER
– Are they mainly men or women, or both?

– What age range are they?

– Where do they live? The same city as you? A nearby city? Another country?

– How much do they buy from you on average?

– What is their nationality?

– Are they single, married, or divorced?

– Do they have children?

– What is their profession/business?

– What clubs do they belong to?

– What types of books and magazines do they like to read?

– Is there anything else they have in common?

– How do they find out about your company?

BUSINESS TO BUSINESS

– What size is their company?

– How much do they buy from you?

– What is their geographic location?

– What type of industry are they in?

– How do they find out about your company?

– What is the function of your contact at the company?

OK, now you have the numbers, how do you use them to figure out the percentages that can help your business? You don’t have to be a math whiz to do these calculations. Depending on how many past and current clients you have, you can use paper and pen or an excel spreadsheet.

Start by writing down the number of clients for each category like: gender, age range, etc. Then take the number in each category and divide it by the total number of clients and you have the percentage of that category. The great news is that once you have set this up, you can simply add new clients to the mix as you go.

Take a good look at the information you find and sort it from the highest to lowest percentage in each category. This will tell you which groups to focus on more and which groups need less attention. It’s also a chance to re-evaluate who you would ideally like to serve with your business.

Also, look for themes and see if any patterns emerge. You may be surprised at what you find. When you have better knowledge about your clients, you can make better decisions for your business.

Curious to find out who your clients really are? Set aside a few hours to analyze your clients and find out more about them as well as what you may have been missing. Take the valuable information you find, create a plan, and put it into action. Happy hunting!

(c) Stephanie Ward 2006