A smaller business is in a better position to provide higher quality of service to its customers. Or so they say. Yet many small business owners make the grievous mistake of setting up roadblocks between them and their customers. While they may offer great products, they unknowingly sabotage their businesses with poor customer service and failure to make it easy for people to deal with them. And some just have plain bad attitudes. No wonder their businesses go nowhere.
Bad attitudes and habits can make you or break you. Many a hapless business has been broken by the habits and attitudes of its owners. Below are some attitudes that are sure to drive customers away and hamper the growth of your business:
1. “This is my business; I’ll do what I want to do with it.”
This is the anti-customer thinking that should be purged from the minds of every entrepreneur. You put your needs first instead of finding out what your customers want. You operate your business in a way that is convenient for you. Sure, you are the lord and master of your own business. After all, this business started with your blood, sweat and tears.
However, your business is not about your ego. Customers do not patronize your business to pay homage to you and what you have produced and accomplished. Rather, they buy your products or service because you provide for their needs.
2. “I can’t say ‘no.'”
The ability to say “no” is crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. However, many entrepreneurs find that saying “no” to somebody, whether a client, supplier, or business associate, can be very difficult. However, saying “no” is often needed to help protect the interests of your business.
When sales people approach you, no matter how nice or convincing they are, hold steadfast and buy only what you need. If a client asks you to extend them credit and your policy is cash upfront, stick to your guns unless there is a strong justification for changing your policies for this client.
Customers will demand the lowest possible price, even baiting you by saying that your competitors are offering lower prices. If you follow your customer’s request without determining the impact to your bottom line and overall financial health of your business, you might find yourself in the throes of bankruptcy. Other customers will demand a million and one concessions: from free samples, free delivery, free installation, free service, and any other free stuff that they could get from you.
Remember, though: customer service is not the same as giving away the store. Learn to say “no” if the request is not in the best interests of your business.
3. “My way or the highway.”
In business, inflexibility can be fatal. Some entrepreneurs want to do their business through one way alone: their way. They do not listen to their customers’ needs and wants. They ignore customers’ repeated suggestions – whether they want to see new ways to improve the product’s packaging or additional service that can be provided. These entrepreneurs see these suggestions as nuisance at best, even interference. What they fail to realize is that these suggestions can be a golden opportunity for their businesses. A business can thrive if it gives customers what they want. Fail this basic business principle and their business will close faster than they can say to their customers “Wait!”
4. “I want to take it reeeeaaaaal slow.”
The slow-but-sure strategy for small businesses growth is good, but not if you are missing out on almost every opportunity that comes your way. You resist growth, and you hide in your little corner of the world. You may be afraid of taking risks, or simply do not know what to do. You have self-created doubt and an, “oh, it’ll never work,” or “oh, it won’t happen to me,” attitude.
Or you want to know everything first before you act. Well here’s reality for you: you will never know everything you wished you knew before undertaking anything. You will not know how your new business will go if you don’t launch it. You will not know if you can get that financing if you don’t apply for it. You will not know how putting up a web site can contribute to your bottom line if you don’t create it. You just can’t know these things, so don’t make knowing all the answers a criteria for taking action.
How do you know if you are dragging your feet to the detriment of your business? You may have a great offering, yet you remain passive about marketing your business and wait for customers to drop like manna from heaven. You reject any publicity efforts; even if media people contact you to share your story with their audience because you think you are not yet ready for the “big time.” In the end, you’ll lose out because more aggressive entrepreneurs can beat you to the punches.
5. “Playing not to lose.”
This is the antithesis of “playing to win” attitude. Instead of moving boldly forward, you adopt a defensive stance about your business. You adopt a reactionary mindset when times begin to get tough. You stop taking risks and cut back on costs including (erroneously) sales, marketing, and advertising. You even make the classic error of cutting prices, at the time when you need most to maintain your profits given the difficulty of achieving a greater volume of gross sales.
To see your business grow and prosper, you need to adopt a “go for it” attitude at all times. Whether you are operating in a good or bad economy, you should always be prepared to adopt any changes in your business, restructure it if needed to gain greater productivity, develop new products and services, find ways to serve their customers better, and sell more aggressively. Your attitude will spell the difference between your success and failure.
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