June 16, 2013

Rachel Strella

My 5 Commandments of Business

You went into business for a fundamental reason – perhaps to be your own boss, to make Small Business Tipsmore money, to have more flexibility, or maybe you felt you had no other option because of the economy. And, whether you realized it or not, you established your business on a set of core principals or beliefs that guide your operations.

It took me a few years to realize this myself, but all along I’ve operated by a set of values that have dictated the way I run my business. It’s refreshing to finally put them down on paper because it’s now a personal and business mission statement that I reference when making decisions, planning my growth, and hiring staff. In fact, it’s so intrinsic, that I now refer to them as my ‘commandments.’ I want to share them with you. If you’ve ever considered articulating your own core values, I hope this blog will encourage you to give it some more thought, write them down, and experience the confidence that comes with having a strong sense of direction.

Do what you say you’re going to do. This guideline is so fundamental to me that I remind my staff daily to be aware of the little things they promise.  It seems simple enough, yet I find that many people make dozens of daily statements that they never actually carry out. Here are some common examples: “I’ll send that tonight,” “I’ll get right back with you,” or “I’ll call you tomorrow.”  Many have great intentions, but life gets in the way. For me, it’s about credibility and accountability. I always do what I say I’m going to do – no matter how small it is. If I don’t do it, you know something is wrong.

Wow them. You may have heard the phrase, “underpromise and overdeliver.”  This statement is similar to my first commandment, but I’m specifically referencing my mission to exceed expectations.  Business owners know that doing the bare minimum is not an option.  Going above and beyond is what separates good service from great service. And great service is what drives retention and referrals.  It’s a non-negotiable expectation of myself and my staff.

Be responsive.  This is another seemingly simple value, but it’s human nature to remain lax on matters that seem trite or even trivial. Regardless of the nature of the call or email, I always respond. Even if it’s to tell someone that I am not interested or that I am still working on something or thinking about their request, I always acknowledge their correspondence.  This is also a principal that I recommend to anyone using social media. For businesses, the most important thing to remember is that you should ALWAYS respond to comments. If your fans and followers are listening and taking the time to engage, it’s important to let them know you value them by keeping the conversation going.  Leaving questions or remarks unanswered sends the message that you don’t care.

Communicate frequently. For those who complete work on behalf of clients or customers, you know that communication is fundamental. Yet, I find that some of our clients have the mindset that they’ve ‘outsourced their social media so they’re done.’ What makes outsourcing work is strong communication, but still some prefer we make magic.  Either way, we’re still proactive. We communicate content, engagement, progress, challenges, etc.  Even if they never respond, we know we’ve done our part.  This is important to us, but it’s also important to the client regardless of their level of responsiveness. I find that if we fail to communicate, then we are also ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ which is eventually a death sentence for retention.

Work hard, play hard.  In order to maximize efficiency, I believe in giving it 110% - in business and in life. When it’s time to get our hands dirty, we’re fully devoted and work our tail off.  I also believe that balancing hard work with hard fun is what energizes us keeps us fresh. Whatever it is, I go at it hard – and commit myself to the task at hand.  This commandment has also helped us streamline our time. If we are going to ‘chip a fang,’ we want it to be meaningful.  In order to be meaningful, it has to be something we believe in and that we’re passionate about.

Share a value that guides your business operations.

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