Odd question, isn’t it?
Not really. The answer to it can determine your success potential.
The Customer Is Always Right - NOT!
In many cases, you are the customer. Especially when dealing with other providers, insurance people, your banker, funding sources and a host of others who help support you in your business - and personal - activities. And any failure on your part to be a good client/customer to those suppliers almost guarantees major problems in your business relationships.
Yet how do you measure up as their customer? Are you the sort of customer you wish you dealt with every day in your business? Good Communication? High level of Courtesy? Professionalism in your relationships? Patience with difficult situations? Ethics and Integrity? The desire to help everyone to achieve the best result for all concerned?
How often - if ever - do you even look at any of these areas?
Probably the most critical area of downfall is in communication, both with your customers and those who supply you. Without communication, little occurs in business. Without good communication the very best of business simply cannot happen.
When you’re seeking funding, do you answer all the questions? Do you work to find out the format in which the funder desires your information? Do you follow directions? It would be impossible to tell you the number of times Capital Funds Group has to deal with these problems. Our major Equity Investment funder, for instance, has asked that a specific format be used for the submission of an Executive Summary. Why?, you might ask. The simple and obvious answer is that like all such investors, they have to deal with hundreds of submissions monthly. If they are all in the same format, it is simple to read them quickly, reject those which don’t fit their requirements, or issue invitations to those which do.
Do you respond quickly? If you receive an email, do you simply let the funder know you received it and will get the required information back quickly. A small thing, you might think. However, when there are dozens to hundreds of deals in the making, it gets the attention of the funder. “This company knows how to communicate, how to respond. " That means that you’ll be getting just a bit more attention than other companies who fail in such courtesies. The same can be said, of course, if you do the same thing with your own customers. Communicate! And quickly.
Business is often very fast nowadays. There is much to do and, seemingly, little time in which to do it. And, with the advent of the internet, you may never even hear the voice of your customer or supplier. Which makes courtesy all the more important.
No one wants to deal with discourtesy. It unfailiingly puts them in a bad mood which creates nothing but difficulty for you and your company. So it means you must take your personal connections to funders, suppliers, service personnel and, of course, your customers, very seriously. But it doesn’t mean you need be serious, either. The simple things. . . the please, the thank you, the that’s very good of you are the lubricants needed in this hectic business environment. A bit of humour now and then, when the situation warrants it, can also help. It’s doubly important in emails and other communication. And while you may never be meeting your customer, you will be meeting your funder. And you will certainly be many steps ahead if you’ve already established yourself as a courteous person.
Just how professional are you? As an entrepreneur, are you a risk taker? Are you prepared to shift gears in the middle of business because a new and better roadway has opened up? Can you easily adjust to new circumstances, new ways of approaching a situation? If not, unfortunately, you’re really not an entrepreneur. Risk taking is part and parcel of the meaning of that word. It’s critical in today’s world of unceasing change to be ready to shift plans, move in new directions and be willing to assume the responsiblity for what may happen. That’s the essences of entrepreneurial professionalism Scary? Sometimes. But so is most real decision making, another vital characteristic of an entrepreneur. As the saying goes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway. " That might well be the perfect slogan for an entrepreneur.
Another mental anchor is “I’ve already seen that, done that, thought that. " It stops you from looking at what appear to be “old" situations and perceiving a difference, one which might bring you to where you wish to be. If you’re stuck with such a belief, an attitude of already knowing all the answers, again you are not really an entrepreneur.
Ethics and Integrity
Self awareness and the willingness to be brutally honest with oneself are two other great entrepreneurial traits. Integrity means “wholeness, " being complete in oneself. Not an easy thing to achieve, by any means, but a worthwhile goal in life. Ethics is simply understanding “The Rules. " Not any rules imposed from outside yourself, but those you intuitively know are the way to behave and treat both others and yourself. If you’re always seeking the “upper hand" in a deal, you’re not really there to accomplish a winning situation for everyone, the ultimate achievement. If you spend your working life trying to be #1, not as an achievement, but as being “one up" on everyone else, trying to be noticed and applauded by others, you are truly seeking a false goal. You have no real integrity because your value is measured by how others perceive you. If you need or demand that sort of attention from others, there is no one truly home inside you. And no business achievement can ever replace that.
Take a look again at the list of items I’ve laid out in this article. How many of them are “standard" in both your business and personal life? Where do you think you might improve? Where might you ask for help in those areas? What books, tapes, CDs or other sources might you spend some time with, opening yourself to the personal growth needed to improve in all those areas. What do you need to do to become the finest client in the world? Worth thinking about.
Mr. Barnes is President & General Manager of Capital Funds Group Ltd. , a Canadian based world wide consulting firm specializing in Putting Companies and Money Together. They also work with non-US companies to take them public rapidly and inexpensively, then getting them funded. Visit our Web Site Email Him