Manifesto of Me

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.

Every day is a school day

Every day is a school day, find out who to make the most of the valuable trying opportunities that happen every day.

Every day is a school day

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that ‘every day is a school day’, well I was having a conversation the other day with someone who was feeling frustrated that they never had enough time for training. They knew that they needed to learn new skills, to pick up new ideas and techniques but they just didn’t have enough time. They kept seeing training courses that they wanted to go on but couldn’t spare the time out of their business. Whilst it was only a day here and there it was just too much time for them to be not earning money.

“You just need to prioritise” (?)

Now most people’s first response to this would be that you need to prioritise your own development, you need to make sure that you’re paying as much attention to yourself as you do to your customers and staff. In one sense I completely agree, we should prioritise ourselves. Without us, there wouldn’t be a business. Without our own development, you limit the opportunity for business development. So yes you need to find the time for self-improvement, yes you need to take the time to go on courses, webinars and training programmes.

Missing the point

In another sense though it completely misses the point and means that you will miss out on loads of opportunities. Over 90% of our learning takes place outside of a formal training environment, outside of a classroom or training event. Those opportunities lie in the people that you meet and the conversations that you have. Every day we have the opportunity to talk to other business owners, other people who are going through and have already gone through the very same issues that each one of us faces in our business. The great thing about talking to other people is that every person you meet will know something that you don’t. There is every chance that they will have tried things that we haven’t thought of and found solutions to problems that we may not have even experienced yet.

Greatest source of learning

Our greatest source of learning exists in the everyday moments, the interactions that we have with our customers, the conversations we have when we are out networking and the experiences that we have when going about our daily business. It’s these opportunities that we need to make sure that we are making the most of, these opportunities that we need to make sure we do not miss. They do not take us out of our business, they do not take us away from where we feel we should really be, in fact, they ground us in our business and ensure that every opportunity helps our business at every stage.

So the next time you’re worried that you don’t have enough time during the week for training, enough time to develop yourself, remember that every day is a school day. Every day is full of opportunities to learn something new.

Be Yourself

Be Yourself - Probably the most and least helpful advice ever.

“Be Yourself”

‘Be Yourself’ This is probably one of the most and least helpful pieces of advice that anyone can ever give you and one which is bandied about more than any other. You see it plastered over Facebook and Twitter; people offer it up as the answer to all your problems. For most people it’s just not that easy. A while ago people used the term authentic to describe everything from their brand, their leadership behaviour to their shoes or jeans. Now people talk about ‘being yourself’. Be yourself; in your job, your business, your relationships and practically every other part of your life. So why is it so unhelpful? Why do we struggle to follow what seems like the most simple piece of advice?

Lack of Awareness

As individuals, we all lack a good level of self-awareness; most of us aren’t born with a clear sense of who we are and what our purpose is in life. Furthermore, only a little amount of time is spent schools and society helping people to answer these two questions. Much of our life is about trying to get us to conform to be like everyone else; we can so easily lose sight of what makes us an individual, what makes us special and unique.

And if you don’t know who you truly are, then how will you know what to be like.

We don’t like what we see

The second thing is that what little we do know about ourselves includes lots of things that we don’t like. Whether it is the way that we look, the way that we sound or even our skills and abilities, there are always areas in which we wished we were better. There is also the problem of feeling like we don’t fit in. Through learning more about ourselves, we realise that we are different from those around us. Rather than delighting in this, it can so easily make us feel that we need to change to be like other people. So we may want to love ourselves but we want to love a better version of ourselves, a version that is more like those around us. Therefore, until we improve we find it hard to love ourselves as we are.

And when you don’t love yourself, it is almost impossible to be yourself.

So how can you do it?

Knowing yourself

Firstly you need to find out more about yourself. Take every opportunity to develop your self-awareness, to learn more about your strengths, abilities and the things that you like. We can do this in so many ways; through personality and strength-based tests, through coaching and mentoring programmes or simply by asking people whom you trust for feedback. Over time, you will build up a picture of how other people see you and what your true capabilities are. You can test each of the things that you discover against your own experiences so you continue to develop and ever increasing knowledge of who you truly are.

Loving yourself

Secondly, you need to learn to love yourself as you are. I’m not saying that it’s not important to try and improved yourself, to learn new things and new skills. Loving yourself is different from being satisfied with yourself. What’s important is to accept that at any particular moment you are who you are, that you will always make mistakes and you cannot be perfect all the time. What’s interesting about this, is that it is true for everyone else as well. Accept yourself as a work in progress, as a person who is getting there but is on a journey. Forgive yourself when things do go wrong and when you have made a mistake. Commit yourself to constantly improving, to learning from each of your experiences whether good or bad.

So next time someone tells you to ‘be yourself’, think about how you can know yourself more and how you can love who you are more.

(PS the next time you feel tempted to tell some someone else to ‘be themselves’, think how you can help them to know themselves more or love who they are more)

Manifesto of Me

What's your manifesto? Do you know what you stand for?

Have you ever thought about what your manifesto is? It’s not a word we tend to use much in business, we tend to associate it with politics and political parties, particularly on the run up to elections. Put simply, a manifesto is a public declaration of your intentions, opinions, objectives and motives. Now you might be wondering ‘why would I want to do that’

The answer is simple

Firstly by stating what you believe and what you intend to do you can engage better with your potential customers, suppliers, and partners. Whether it’s through your website or other information you include in your marketing material sharing your manifesto help you connect with the types of customers that you want to. In small business people buy from people and publicly sharing your manifesto helps people to work out whether they can like and trust you enough to do business with you.

The second reason is that it helps keep you honest and helps you to stay true to what you’re trying to achieve. I’ve heard it said before that ‘if you don’t stand for something then you’ll fall for anything’. When doing business it’s so easy to make compromises on what you value and what you want to be in order to get new customers. Whilst this may help in the short term it tends to actually eat away at a business and can easily destroy it in the long term. If you end up spending your time working with people you don’t connect with, doing stuff you don’t enjoy; it won’t matter how much money you are making eventually you’ll want to ditch it.

So make it a priority to work out what your manifesto is. So you can you connect with people who share your values and agree with your mission.  This will help you to resist compromising on your business. Then you can keep running the business you want and be successful at you what want to do.

I’m going to be sharing mine on here over the next few months so why not check back and see what I stand for.