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Business Lessons

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It’s back to school for kids and back to the basics for business owners.

BusinessSeptIt’s time to take a breather — school is back in session! For the millions of moms who have dealt with the stresses of work and taking care of their children during the summer months, August and September brings a much-needed relief to the overworked mother. As a mom, I can attest to the adjustment period our children go through after two to three months of summer vacation. They must restructure their minds from summertime fun to an educational classroom experience.

Likewise, as entrepreneurs, we often fall out of a focused professional mindset and need to refocus our business priorities. There are many building blocks that go into creating a successful foundation for a thriving business. If you don’t build a solid foundation, your business will come crumbling down around you. Many business owners are so busy working in their business that they have forgotten, or never implemented, the basics that are needed to continue to grow and support their structure.

In order to build a house, you need to start by designing a set of blueprints — otherwise your contractor has no idea what to build. The same holds true for a business. You must write a business plan with macro and micro goals so you and your team are following a precise blueprint.

First and foremost, it is imperative to identify your company’s mission and vision statements. You also must brainstorm and identify your USP (unique selling proposition). These are services and benefits that your company provides that clearly distinguish you from your competitors. For example, my USP is: We typically obtain a 20- to 40-percent higher selling price for our clients business, and close 98 percent of all offers we write.

Once you have identified the above characteristics for your business, then it’s time to clarify who your ideal client is and what you want your customer’s experience to be. Your customer’s experience needs be precisely detailed on your company culture card. (This is a card that employees must carry daily.) It is crucial that you constantly train your team to provide extraordinary service and to ensure that your clients say, “WOW,” upon rating their customer service experience with your business.

Every time a customer says, “WOW,” it moves your company up the branding ladder from brand absence to brand advocacy — when other people are selling your products and services. Every time a customer has an unfavorable experience, it moves your company down the branding ladder. And consumers will not want to do business with you and your company.

It is also imperative to build your team and to identify whom your ideal employees will be. You must write a detailed blueprint for the ideal team member and don’t deviate from your ideal candidate. Business owners are busy and typically settle for the prospect that has a few of the desired skill sets, but then they realize very quickly that they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I have always said, “If you can’t change your people, then change your people.” Adopt the mindset of “Slow to hire, quick to fire!” If you don’t, then you and your mangers will spend way too much time babysitting unruly misfits.

Building and protecting a great company culture that exemplifies your mission, vision and values — and promotes an excellent customer experience — is in fact an income-producing machine. Developing an outstanding culture means that all of the associates are united and are dedicated to ensuring the company’s mission.

Only employ and partner with team members and clients that share the same values; otherwise, you will be diluting your brand. ?Reevaluate your business model, and get rid of the negative, non-producing people, activities and tasks that are not in alignment with your company goals. Remember, statistics show that 80 percent of your activities only produce 20 percent of your results. Develop a plan of action, and execute immediately. Meet with your team and utilize their feedback to redesign your foundation. Over-performers always voice good ideals; non-performers complain and blame. Your team will be thankful and delighted that you kept the producers and cut the nonproductive/non-compliant, because no one has time to micromanage.

Remember, business is a moving target; therefore, you must continue to assess your business practices and team members quarterly. This process is imperative because the systems, processes and people that took your company to one stage of success probably won’t be the same that will get you to the next level in your business. Continue to audit your existing team and identify who stays, which associates need more development and who needs to be released. Once you have your list, take action swiftly and directly communicate to the remainder of the team why certain assessments were made.

Just like our children’s first week back at school, we need time to readjust and get back on track. Are you still heading down the road that you initially mapped out for yourself? Or have you deviated from your mission? If you have strayed, you initially need to understand the reasoning behind it. There may be a very good one. At times, the general concept will change and you need to adapt the plan appropriately — school is back in session!

Operating a successful business requires the ability to see the road ahead. Many businesses fail or go bankrupt simply because the signs were ignored. Take the time to learn my business solutions to avoid the danger signs that can ground your company. The journey will go much straighter and be more fun in the end.

Staying the Course
Capital Business Solutions’ company culture card, showing how to ensure extraordinary client service and how to make your clients say “WOW.”

1. Always see everything from the customer’s point of view.
2. What would you expect a company to do if they were selling your most prized position, your business?
3. How would the client be treated if they were at a five-star hotel — give them the same five-star service!
4. Would this customer give us a five-star review?
5. Did the customer say, “WOW”?
6. No matter whose mistake, the customer’s or ours, CBS will make it right.
7. We pay attention to every detail, we cross the Ts and dot the Is, and make sure there is no surprise.
8. We follow up and follow through. We never let things fall through the cracks!
9. Never, ever, ever bad-mouth the company.
10. Do we appear like an industry leader?
11. At CBS, we sell your business for more than it’s worth, and we make it easy!
12. We always keep your secrets, and confidentiality is our priority.

Michelle Seiler-Tucker is the author of the award-winning and bestselling book, Sell Your Business For More Than It’s Worth.??