October 8, 2017

Rachel Strella

Business Owners: Clarity Is Closer Than You Think

business owners

We just had our fourth quarter leadership meeting, which serves as a lesson for me to keep my focus.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business. My biggest takeaway from this meeting is the importance of being crystal clear on your core values.

Any time I’ve lost my way, it’s because I was out of touch with my ‘why.’ I’m sure it’s commonplace for many of us who run a small business. We wear a lot of hats and we’re pulled in a dozen directions. For me, our leadership meetings are a reminder to bring myself back to center and focus ‘on’ the business. As a leader, that’s where my focus should be – small business or not.

Here’s why core values are important… they dictate everything about how you run your business. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, it could be because you need a core value re-alignment. Such was the case for us this past week.

I received an inquiry from an out-of-town association asking for a proposal for our services as well as an in-person presentation to their promotions committee.  Some people may be excited about this opportunity, but truthfully, I saw it as more work - the travel, the pitch, and the selling - for an organization that I know nothing about. Then, it suddenly occurred to me that I was feeling exhausted by this opportunity because – frankly – it wasn’t in alignment with our core values.

How many times do we do things because we think we should or we think we must? This week, I came to the realization that this happens because we forget our purpose. At Strella Social Media, our ultimate vision is to become the leading small business provider of social media management in the world. We are committed to excellence, customer service and communication. How can we implement these core values for an organization without knowing their goals?

After thinking about this inquiry, I decided to respond and tell them how we work - and why. I thanked them for the opportunity, and shared that we are a small business focused on providing exceptional service to our clients. We are relationship-based, and because of this, we rarely send proposals or RFP’s unless we have a conversation about the needs of the organization and their expectations of a social media management company. We customize our services, based on this conversation, so we can deliver outcomes that are important to the client. I ended the reply by simply asking them to let me know if they still have an interest in working with our company.

I hit send and didn’t look back. I assumed I would never hear from them again, and that’s OK. It felt good to send that response. If I am to work with an organization, on those terms, I know I would feel empty. I would be guessing what they want to accomplish, and my pitch would have been meaningless. Should a client want to work with us, it must be done a certain way, because that’s what generates results.

Subsequently, the organization responded and requested an initial conversation with us. I am hopeful, but I also know that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not because our core values are wrong.

Moral of the story: If your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to be successful. Core values are the heart of your company. I plan to start each day reflecting on our core values to set the stage for the day.

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5 comments on “Business Owners: Clarity Is Closer Than You Think”

  1. I'm with you. So simple to request a proposal or a face to face, no cost at all. As an SMB there are costs that are often never recovered from these types blind requests.

    The blind proposal requests often feels like a price check against a provider they may have already chosen.

    Being an SMB in a conservative business climate, many still want to look you in the eye while interviewing potential suppliers. Still best to be able to accept or decline meetings based on some understanding of prospective client needs and expectations.

    1. A 'blind request' is a good way to describe it. Small businesses can spend hours on these types of requests and it can be a dead-end. I'm glad we are getting smarter about how we approach these things, but I am sure we still have many lessons to learn! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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