Be the Lion… Business survival skills

When you are starting a business, any business, it is imperative that you go into the business with the ferociousness of a lion. You have to give it all you have to get your business going, to just get it off the ground. The momentum you have in the beginning will set the tone and really let people know how bad you really want it. It will let them know how passionate you are, and therefore how successful you will be. The two go hand in hand. Without the passion it is just a job. Something for you to do to occupy your time. With the passion it is your creation, your dream. You will work hard and do whatever it takes to make sure you succeed. These are the people whose businesses grow and thrive. These are the people that make it happen!

There are three thoughts that people start a business with. There are the “I really think this will be successful”. If you only “think” it will then it won’t. Then there are the “I am going to do my best to make this business successful” Your best isn’t always good enough. You have to really want it. You have to go the extra mile . Finally there are the ” How soon will I need to start hiring people”. Failure does not even enter their mind. They do not think they will succeed. They know they will. They have no doubt. They start their business like a lion, with spirit, dedication and fervor. That kind of passion will take their business to amazing heights.

The only way to get to this point is to want it…go after it. It’s not going to just happen. When I started my business I had a million ideas before I opened for business. I had researched and studied what others in my industry had done and what tools they used. I studied their websites and blogs. Then I took all of that information, tweaked and improved what I saw, and made my own way of doing things.  I learned how to market my business. I learned how to make people want what services I could give them. I went to networking meetings to make business to business connections. Sometimes 2-3 a day for weeks. Even though I had never done it before, I created my own website and started blogging. Every time I got up and spoke about my business at a meeting I gave the other business owners a new idea or thought that would make them think about their own business and how what I just said could apply to them. I made the wheels turn and start thinking about how my business could benefit them.

After I had started doing work for some of them I began to earn their respect. A person can talk all they want but if they do not have the actions to back up what they are saying it doesn’t mean anything. After I had gained respect I started talking to them individually, suggesting creative ways I could help them with different aspect of their business. If I was hired to do one particular task, after completing it I was always able to suggest some other service that I believe they would benefit from. If I just did what I was paid to do and told them thank you for your business I wouldn’t get their repeat business. I got repeat business from these companies because I made it happen. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. That statement is true with just about anything you want in life. If you want more work then go ask for it.  If you want more people to buy your merchandise then ask them what they want.

The moral of this story of this story is be the lion. Have the passion, the fury, and the spirit to get what you need to survive…for your business to survive.

Bad Boss…..Great Teacher!

I have had many, many years of experience working with a very, very bad boss. He has no people skills. He can not communicate with his employees without ending up in a fight with them. He lied, cheated, and ran all of our good customers off, both big spenders and smaller ones. One would think that this kind of behavior would be a bad influence on people. Sometimes it is easier to lie and cheat in business to get a big payoff. Instead I decided that I would learn from his behavior. I would take his example and in turn learn how not to be!

My position in the company was one that was pretty much directly under him. This enabled me to have some authority in the company. When he would yell an employee I could usually talk to them after and make them feel better. I would have to convince them to stay or simply calm them down. This gave me good people skills. I learned how to treat employees. I learned that if you treat your employees with respect and compassion they will be loyal, hard-working allies. It’s not a difficult concept. Even if they do mess up you can still get your point across without making them want to throw things at the wall, like I have before after fighting with my boss (and I am not a violent person).  His extreme inability to handle his employees made me better at managing and communicating with them. It forced me to learn how to handle situations and fix problems, not cause them.

I also learned this same concept with customer relationships. I have seen my boss lie to customers and cheat them just to make a sale. Then, surprise, the customer got mad when they found out and stopped doing business with us. From that, I learned that honesty is always the best policy! He taught me… indirectly… that if you are honest with a customer from the beginning and they still decide to do business you then they will most likely continue to do business with you. I had customers that were his and they actually stopped speaking to him or even answering his emails and would only deal with me. It’s like he couldn’t understand that he was killing our business. It finally got so bad that almost everything he said contained a made up story or a lie. It wasn’t possible to tell the truth for him anymore because he had lied so many times he had got used to it. It was just second nature for him to lie. Again this taught me how I did not want to be. He has ended up almost totally alone, and unhappy because he has finally made everyone mad and want to leave. This was one of the biggest lessons because it showed me how through the years his bad behavior towards his employees and his customers has not only lost him business, but ultimately cost him his business (that he started in 1978). It also showed me the long-term consequences of his actions by seeing what his life is like now and probably always will be. He is 71 years old and has pretty much no hope of starting over. He has no business, no employees, and no customers.

It is always better to do the right thing when it comes to business, and everything really. Honesty and compassion goes a long way. Employees work so much better when they want to, not when they are forced to. Customers come back again and again when they are treated with respect and know they can count on you. All of these are lessons that I have learned because I was shown by my boss what happens if you don’t do these things. It was like seeing my future if I had made the wrong choices. I guess you could say he taught me how to run a successful business in a reverse sort of way. He was definitely a bad boss…. but a great teacher!