In the spirit of Halloween, and any other time of the year that you are in business, I wanted to share one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned in business – one that stopped me from being haunted by disappointment and provided me with the fundamental truths of business. I was sitting in a cafe in Shreveport, Louisiana in June of 2003 with a person whom I considered to be a wise mentor in business. We were both attending a conference and fortuitously, and what must be considered Divine intervention, he was not taking photos or in meetings, and we found ourselves alone at a table.
He said, ‘Susan, there is something I learned from my mentor and I want to teach it to you. It will help you get through the tough times in business. I see that you have desire and heart however those things alone are not enough. You are going to have to be tough.’
He went onto explain the following fundamental truths of business. As the years have gone by, I have added a fifth truth which has perhaps catalyzed from my experience in the startup world. Once you understand these fundamental truths, and expect them, business becomes easier. The truths will help you deal with disappointments, which will arise whether you are fundraising for your startup, in network marketing, starting an online or brick-and-mortar business; these truths will set you free.
The 5 Fundamental Truths of Business
You are going to face rejection. People will say ‘no’ to your idea, your pitch, your product or service, and your business in general. The reality is that people rarely say ‘no.’ Instead, they come up with excuses or they just don’t return your text or your phone call. Not only is it going to happen, it speaks volumes about a person’s character if they can’t get honest and simply say that they aren’t interested, don’t have the money, or are going with another company, product, or person.
Rejection is a daily part of business and you must not take it personally. The more people you are connecting with, the more rejection you are going to face.
Susan’s Tip for Rejection – use rejection to strengthen your skills.
People will deceive you. They will lie to you. They will tell you that they are going to invest or purchase and then are nowhere to be found. They will tell you that your funding is a ‘done deal,’ only to string you along. They will tell you that they are buying a ticket to your event and then they fail to either buy the ticket or show up. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in, it is going to happen. You don’t want to deal with deceptive people anyhow.
Susan’s Tip for Deception – better out than in. You do not want to do business with liars.
You will lose customers and team members. It happens. Even the best companies in the world have churn. You may have given a team member everything in the world and invested a significant amount of time training them only to lose them to a competitor. As frustrating, and heartbreaking as it is, attrition is an everyday part of business.
If you are losing customers faster than you are gaining them, then your business is obviously running at a loss. If this is the case, you need to look at ways in which you can improve your retention either by incorporating a loyalty program, changing your pricing, or figuring out innovative ways to add value.
If you are losing your best team members, then it is time to look in the mirror and ask yourself how you can create more value in your work environment. Not everyone is motivated by more money, some people are driven by things like time or culture. Survey your team and ask them what they would like. You might be surprised.
Susan’t Tip for Attrition – look for ways to lower your attrition and you will boost your profits.
Greed kills companies, destroys relationships, and creates chaos. If that wasn’t direct enough, I am not sure what is. There are companies that cheapen their products, devalue their team members, and sacrifice service all for the sake of greed. There are individuals who cut corners, lie, cheat, and steal so they can ‘take’ more money from investors and employees. Greed will appear in any business and it might be festering in you.
We are all familiar with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was so greedy that he lost his fiance, alienated his family, and had it not been for the three ghosts who visited him, would have lost his life. As we begin to create more revenue, it can be seductive not to add value to the people who got us to where we are – employees, team members, investors, and customers. Yes, you need to save money and reinvest in your company, however you also must reinvest in people.
Susan’s Tip for Greed – reinvest in the people who got you where you are.
As business owners, we work longer hours than employees. You will become exhausted, frustrated, and even want to quit. Apathy will rear its ugly head now and again; when it does, it is easy to take our eye off the ball and before we know it, we are in a downward cycle. Business owners who become apathetic tend to stop innovating. They can appear arrogant – uh hem – Blockbuster? Apathy will destroy people and businesses.
When apathy occurs, it is a good idea to bring in some fresh ideas, do a mastermind with your team, go on a retreat, even take a few days off; doing something that will invigorate you will help to drive apathy away.
Susan’s Tip for Apathy – take a few days to attend a conference, do a mastermind, or hire a consultant to help you be invigorated about your business again.