November 2016

Is compromise killing your business?

Is compromise killing your business?

Is compromise really such a good thing?

When you think of the word compromise most people think of it as being a positive approach. Someone who is willing to compromise is someone who is willing to be flexible.  Willing to see things from both sides, someone who doesn’t have a rigid view of the world. The problem is, most of the time, that is not what it actually is. Here’s another definition:

“A weakening or reduction of one’s principles or standards”

When I explain it that way to most people don’t see it as such a great thing. If someone came to you and asked whether you were happy to compromise on your principles and standards you’re probably unlikely to say yes. Equally, you’re not likely to want someone to do work for you when they don’t stick to their own standards or principles. We respect people for sticking to their principles and standards but yet at the same time we often can come across as happy to let go of ours.

So if it is such a bad thing then why do we do it?

We believe the customer is always right

Before you start shouting at the screen I’m not having a go at customers. We need people we can work for and with, after all, a business without paying customers is just a hobby. Where we can often go wrong is that we give to much power over to our customers. In an effort to provide the best customer service, to over-deliver and to delight our customers we are afraid to say no even when we know it is the right thing to do.

We forget that the whole reason why our customers have come to us in the first place is for our expertise. They believe that we can achieve something on their behalf that they cannot do on their own. When we forget that, we completely lose our value to our customers. Not only do they secretly want us to say no, they need us to say no as well.

We’ve got to beat the competition

A problem that many small businesses have is that we spend lots of our time hearing about big businesses in the news. We hear about companies that have large market shares, we hear about technology companies that have 40% of the market share. This leads to us to think that we have to fight for every single customer, we think that we have to beat the competition.

In reality, most businesses would be delighted with a very small market share. If we worked with a fraction of the potential customers in our markets we would still have an amazing year. Fighting with our competitors over customers is like fighting with the bloke next to you in the supermarket for a pint of milk. Not only is their plenty for everyone, milk also comes in lots of sizes and varieties. What makes a great customer for one business would be a lousy customer for someone else. Another problem with trying to beat our competitors is that in most instances we do this by lowering our prices or offering to do more. Neither of which is a great way to grow your business.

Finally, the whole time that you are trying to compete with your competitors you’re missing out on opportunities to collaborate. People who work with similar customers and people who do similar stuff to you are the best people to work with on bigger projects.

We think that any business is better than no business

This is particularly a problem for people when they first start in business. You get closer to the end of the month and you’re worried that there isn’t going to be enough cash to for you to pay all the bills. It’s ok we’ve all been there. But it can also be a problem for any business at any stage. If you don’t have enough business it’s really hard to say no to any new business opportunity. It doesn’t matter if it’s not quite what you normally do or it’s not quite your normal rate, we programmed to say yes. If you don’t have enough business surely you can’t turn work down, who cares that it’s not great work, its money isn’t it?

We worried that we might be wrong

For lots of people, one of the hardest things to overcome is the belief that we might be wrong. It’s natural to doubt ourselves sometimes, to worry that we’ve made a mistake or made the wrong decision. This gets multiplied when you’re talking to a potential customer.

You’re doing your best to explain what you do and why and all your getting back from the other person is a blank face. You start off with really firm belief in who you are and your business and then sentence by sentence you become less confident. This can be even worse when you perceive the other person to be more successful than you. So you change your ideas, your business model, your pricing and lots of other aspects of your business. Then you go and talk to another person, confident in your new business ideas and you get more blank faces. So you flip flop around unable to settle on a business idea.  You change your ideas, your business model, your pricing and lots of other aspects of your business. Rather than change what we say to people sometimes we need to change who we’re talking to.

Is it really that big a problem though

In the short term the honest answer is no, it’s not that big a deal. Occasionally we all have to do things in our business that we’d rather we didn’t have to. We make decisions that turn out to be wrong, we listen to people who know less than us. Anything in the short term isn’t going to make that big a difference. The problem is that it’s easy for the short term can so quickly become the long term. We convince ourselves that we’re just making the compromise for now, that once business gets better we get back to doing what we really want. As soon as you have enough money coming in you’ll stop making compromises.

The problem is that once you start making compromises it becomes so much harder to actually achieve the things that you want. The work that you do when you compromise is never your best work. If they are not paying enough, you eventually resent doing the work and putting in all the effort. You take short cuts and leave things to the last minute, you put off answering the phone when they call.

Eventually, you get fed up with your own business and then the worse thought for a business owner pops into your head.

“I’d be better off if I just got a job”

At that point, unless you make some drastic changes you end up being right, you would be better off getting a job.

So how do you fix it?

The simple answer is stop compromising. You need to understand what most important to you in your business and stick to it. You need to shout about your values and principles from the rooftops. Then everyone around you will help you to stick to them. Even more importantly, you will attract the people who won’t ask you to compromise. You don’t need to compromise for them because they like you for who you are.

There are three areas that if you can get sorted, the rest of them will be easier to manage.

Be Yourself

One of the biggest areas that people often feel that they have to compromise on is who they really are. Whether it is basic stuff like how we dress and how we talk or really important stuff like how we value ourselves and our time. Not only does society put pressures on us to conform, when you run your own business these pressures are magnified. It’s so easy in putting others before yourself to allow what important to you to get lost in the process.

The only way that you can truly be yourself is by first of all knowing who you really are. Then you need to love and accept who that person is. Once you can do that it’s easy to resist compromising.  You’ll recognise that it’s by being yourself that you achieve success in the first place.

Do what you are best at

Strengths are called strengths for a reason. It is easy though to spend your time doing the things that we’re not that good at. It can be easy to lose focus and get caught up in the things that other people want you to do rather than the things you need to do.

If you want to make sure you don’t compromise then find out what you enjoy doing and what you are really good at. Find a way to increase how much of your day is spent doing the things you love. If there are things in your business that you don’t enjoy or you’re not any good at, then find a way to outsource them or stop them altogether. Your best work gets done when you do the things you are best at. When you do your best work you get to grow your business the way you want. You get to have the success that you deserve.

Work with and for the right people

Finally, one of the biggest things that you have control over in your business is who you work with. You want to be excited about working with your customers. You want to look forward to when you are next going to talk. It will be these clients that you do your best work for. These clients that will be the most grateful and most importantly refer you to other people.

Furthermore, if you’ve got customers now that you dread talking to. If you don’t get excited about working with then you should think about ditching them.

So if you want to be successful in business and grow the business that you want then don’t compromise. Just be yourself, do what you’re best at and work with and for the right people.

If you’ve found this article helpful then please share it with another person who you think might find it useful too. Who knows they may even thank you for it. If you think that I might be able to help you with your business then why not book a free phone conversation to talk about your business. Click here to book now.

What makes a great conversation?

What makes a great conversation?

What makes a great conversation?

A question that I get asked all the time is what makes a great conversation?  The answer can be different for everyone and it changes for different types of conversation. However, there are certain elements that should always be present to make a conversation great. When used in varying combinations they will always improve the quality, and therefore the outcome, of a conversation. You can ask yourself questions about the conversation to make sure that you’re ticking all the boxes. So here are six questions you should be asking yourself about your conversations:

Are they focussed on the positive?

In any situation, there are two ways a looking at it, the positive way or the negative way. We can talk about someone’s strengths and weaknesses. About the carrot and stick approaches to management. Work on the opportunities or the problems in a situation. Unfortunately, it is too easy for us to focus on the negative side of things, to get stuck in the mire of the negative side of conversations. Now I’m not saying that you don’t acknowledge the negative aspects, that you blind yourself to problems. If you keep your focus on the positive and help others to do so too, not only will you have a great conversation you achieve more too.

Are they meaningful?

If we want to engage with other people we have to talk about things that are meaningful to them. We also have to talk to them in a way that is meaningful to them. We also respond better to other people when we are spoken in a way that is meaningful to us when we are spoken to about things that are meaningful to us. The absolute best conversations happen when both parties are conversing in a way that is meaningful to each of them about things that are meaningful to both of them. So when you’re planning on having conversations with other people think about what would make it meaningful to them whilst at the same time keep it meaningful for you. It’s about understanding the why in your business and in the other persons too.

Do you have the right intention?

One of the biggest problems we have with conversations is that we often don’t have a clue about what we want to get out of the conversation in the first place. Or we have such a rigid view of what we want that we are not open to the opportunities that might be available. We finally get that meeting with a new prospect and we are so fixed on getting the quick sale that we miss the bigger opportunity. I wrote a post a little while ago about having the right conversation that goes into this in a bit more detail. When we have conversations in our business we need to get it sorted in our head what our intentions are. We need to have an intention that is beneficial for both sides of the conversation.

Is it personal?

One of the big changes that are happening in the business world at the moment is the blurring of business and personal lives. Through social media we are becoming more connected with the people we are doing business with. Whether it is our employees, our customers, our suppliers or anyone else we come in contact with, we can be closer to their lives than ever before. We can often find this difficult, though, we connect with people on Facebook but post less about our lives. We bring each other closer whilst at the same time making sure we keep people at arms-length. If understanding the why helps us tap into the meaningful then understanding the who helps us to keep it personal. If you ever hear yourself saying that it’s just business it’s not personal then you’re getting the conversation wrong.

Are you collaborating?

Collaboration has become one of the current business buzzwords and it gets used too often. So often that it can end up feeling a bit twee or insincere. Collaboration is actually about two people coming together and achieving something that neither could achieve alone. It takes the knowledge, abilities, passions and efforts of two groups and creates something that that is greater than the sum of their individual’s efforts. When conversations are collaborative they have a multiplying effect on our efforts. They allow us to co-create something exceptional.

Are you being honest?

Finally, great conversations are about being honest. Honest with yourself and honest with the other person. I grew up as a blagger, I could bluff my way through most situations. If I wasn’t sure of an answer I could blag my way out. If I hadn’t done something I could blag my way out of that too. For many of us, blagging can become a way of life and we can learn to be successful at it. The thing is whilst blagging can be successful it’s not as powerful as being honest. Honesty is the best why to have great conversation and to build the best long term relationships that most of us are trying to achieve in business.

Great Business

If you want to have a great business then you need to have great conversations and to have great conversations you have to think about the above. If you would like to talk about how you can make your conversations great then click here to have a free, no commitment conversation.