There are so many things in business that you cannot control. You have no say on when a global pandemic will shut down the economy. You don’t get to set the corporate tax rates or the federal interest rates. You have zero input into how the weather will affect your business. And the recent supply chain issues and labor market pains are not something you can change. Encouraging, right?
On the bright side, there are things you can control in business, and that is where you need to focus your energy. Here are six things you can do today that will have a huge impact on your business tomorrow.
1. Your attitude
While several factors, including your staff, can affect your attitude, only you get to decide how you are going to respond.
One of my vice presidents recently told me that a part of her morning routine is to take the time to watch part of a Hallmark movie. That surprised me, because among the things the most successful people do in the morning before work, watching a movie was never on the list. I asked her why that was important to her, and her reply impressed me. She said the movie put her in a good mood to start her day. Every morning she greets me with a big smile and says, “Top of the morning to you!” I now know her secret.
Attitude is on the top of my list because the right attitude can help you think clearly about the problems you are facing that day. Consequently, the wrong attitude can skew your view and cloud your judgment. Run a business long enough and you learn that each day is filled with good and bad news. Long term, the bad news is never as bad as you first thought, and the good news is never as good. Don’t let your day be run by emotions.
2. How you treat people
I once read a book where the author suggested that you had to yell at your staff and use curse words to motivate them. He specifically said that was the only way to get engineers to do what you need them to do. I respectfully disagree. You need to treat people with respect, regardless of their position in the company.
In the past, I worked for a COO who parked in the very back of the employee lot and walked into the office. I asked him why, and he explained that he wanted his staff to have the best parking spots. His humility made him a great boss. We all wanted to work harder for him — no yelling or cursing needed.
You will get far more out of your team if you treat them with respect.
Equally important is how you treat the customers you have. Make them feel special and they will bring you more business.
3. How you market your brand
I run a content marketing agency, and we tell our clients all the time that either they are telling their story or someone else is telling their story for them.
One of the first things companies cut when cash flow is tight is marketing. But to quote Henry Ford, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Ford Motor Company has dealt with several things beyond its control over the years, but Ford still markets their brand.
4. How you handle fulfillment
Yes, you might be at the mercy of supply chain issues, but that does not stop you from over-communicating to customers and prospects.
Amazon is a great example. The company goes out of its way to communicate when items are available and lets you know when your order has been shipped. Frustration comes when there is an unmet expectation. Manage the expectation with your customers and you will have happier customers.
Supply chain issues aside, make sure your fulfillment process is running smoothly and with your customers in mind.
5. How you train your team
Taking the time to have a thought-out training process will help you close more business in the future. This was a lesson I learned the hard way when I first started running a company. I wanted to get my sales team trained as fast as possible to get them to start bringing in money, which only led to a high turnover in sales staff.
6. How many appointments you set on your calendar
Business is mathematics, and you are more likely to increase sales the more you increase sales meetings.
In my 20s I just picked up the phone and started making sales calls. I remember closing a million dollars in sales in a short period with nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet, the internet and phone. Once you get experience and you know the effort it will take, you may be tempted to try to game the system or cut corners. Sales are still sales, and scheduling meetings is still your best option.
In truth, there are other things you can and cannot control in business, but if you start with these six items you will be well on your way to building a better business.