PERSONAL BUSINESS TIPS – FOR STARTERS….
Eh by the way, these have taken me some time to compile, since they are all practical lessons….so enjoy, critique and share….
1. Its great to have a single customer appreciate your service even if its a small thing! That’s exactly what made the difference for them. The small things are the ones which surely make a difference everyday…
2. Even if you don’t have all the services your competitors are offering, capitalise on what you have and serve customers excellently. they will keep coming back for the few services till you expand your product line.
3. I have come to see that its important to have back-up plans on cash-flow all the time. When starting up, always have a reserve to support you through at least 6months till you establish a solid and steady clientele.
4. Keep workers occupied everyday with a new thing. For Internet & Computers, its very easy; they can read, code, practice a new program, publish, update accounts etc. An idle mind is never productive.
5. Learn to keep records of your financial health from the very beginning. It will help you plan better in future.
6. Always try to solve a customer’s problem to the best you can! It can bring more customers.
7. Some customers don’t know as much as you know, so be patient with them when they ask you incessant, funny, puny, irritating, crazy , irrelevant questions, .
8. People who have never owned or operated a business will always have a different perspective from YOU. Don’t struggle with them
9. When a customer interrupts your lunch or breakfast, if they need urgent work, its okay…Because you may earn 10+ times the breakfast/lunch you are eating….
10. Try to be as fast and as efficient as possible when working for a customer. that small time management technique will cause them to come back faster.
11. Every customer is unique and different in aspects of temperament, speech, self-expression, self esteem etc. So adjust accordingly.
12. Try your best not to get so attached to customers emotionally. Remember business is not your family-house.
13. Also never mix friendship with business, I have had some friends who thought the service I offered them was free of charge and sounded surprised after being presented with a bill.
14. Handling of impatient, abusive, arrogant, boisterous customers is very easy when you are proactive at solving their problems.
15. Don’t be shaken by a customer complaining about you finishing work very fast and yet you have charged them highly, yet taken a jiffy to finish the work. That’s what they call effectiveness (Remember some medical consultations with Doctors last about 5-10 minutes and you are charged over 10USD, try going to Serena/Speak Hotel and ordering for tea/water or even mere passion juice – you will get shocked at the prices!)
16. Don’t fear to hike some prices. Especially for one time customer-services. The customer should bargain to get a good price. That’s the power of being a good salesman! You get the best bargain. This is not cheating as some perceive it!
17. If possible let the entrepreneur participate in initial training programs to give support and also to learn from the new comers.
18. In any instance, all employees need continuous training. If training is not available for the current work field, they can be trained in other important areas of life like Health, Safety, First Aid Practices, etc.
19. Don’t panic in case of any kind of emergency. Sit tight and work your way out. There have been worse days.
20. In a business, God made it natural for guys/men to easily adapt to being served by a female and vice versa. I studied and observed it time and again – men just flow with ladies/women and the reverse if true. A lady has that feminine character that causes a man to humble down. Its God-given and by the way all ladies have it!
21. Being a Sole proprietor is good for starting a business, but as it expands, one has to simply get competent people to train and help them bring profitability to his/her business. Never worry about paying workers. Be faithful and they shall be faithful.
22. Never compromise on profitability! The customer must never make you earn less than the set safety margin. Always speak consistently concerning your prices.
23. In Uganda, its very okay to employ a university-degree-graduate to do a job of a diploma/certificate person in some special cases, why? The graduates are indisposed to being aggressive and eager to use their knowledge and maturity in more productive ways than the other groups. They feel challenged so much by their status quo. They feel that they are meant for better! Most serious and ambitious graduates will maximise the resources around them during this ‘wilderness’ period to project themselves further.
24. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have, a time comes when you have to surrender to one who will take advantage of your ignorance in the small things. They will con you, fleece you, rob you, etc….because you are ignorant! These days its even worse….they professionals with ties & suits are very quick & fast in this trade…
25. Its strange but true, that some people’s misery can be your fortune, just look at a coffin maker and you get the picture right?
26. Whenever people start talking about your current business health, they have a right to speak…you can’t close/shut people’s mouths. What matters is what are you saying??
27. I have come to learn never to trust even consistent customers(because a man’s heart is truly deceitful)! They can take advantage of your generosity! Always operate by clearly laid out policies e.g. No service without a deposit of cash!
28. I have learnt that its critical to learn how to deal ASAP with manipulative customers. They need to be handled aggressively without fear! This is because some are good are taking advantage of your generosity. When left to access your services with no restriction, they will take advantage of you. The more you allow them do it, the weaker you become whenever they come back to do the same.
29. How do you deal with a manipulative customer/client; the moment they step in to your premises, they are trying to swindle or cheat or con you? Their speech is smooth and very aggressive when demanding for their share? You simply be assertive and consistent!
30. Its very interesting for a client to bombard you with accountability questions like why does this not work? why don’t you have this service? why can’t you purchase this? where is so and so? This makes you get out of your comfort zone due to the instant feedback!
31. Customer feedback is the best thing that’s happened to any business. Don’t get overworked or pissed by a customer’s crazy comments and statements about how weak, poorly organised, slow, unfavorable your service is. Simply Improve and implement and you will be smiling all the way to the bank. Without customer feedback, you can never know where your real weaknesses are!
32. When customers are told the hard plain truth, some tend to think they can manipulate you with their tough-talk after being pissed off! They aint seen nothing yet! Some of us have been through life & death situations so no tough-talk can scare! No amount of anger can scare us! We have been through hell! For such people I learnt to just be consistent and tell the truth to them at point blank range. It saves you a lot of hustle.
33. Something interesting about not stooping so low is this; some clients think that they will manipulate you since you have just started out in business! They are in for a shock! I always refused to bend low beyond our margins when things were very tight! Some came back because our services were just better, faster, more convenient!
34. Credit should only be advanced to people who are credit-worthy. This must be people whose addresses you have and can be checked on to collect the debts, because bad debts can multiply exponentially!
35. Its very important to attend to a client with full attention. Avoid unnecessary distractions since this can lead to wrong output.
36. If you have a front desk position, always let incoming customers sit first before you speak to them even if they are in a hurry. This is because your mind was created to give attention to one person at a time, you can’t speak to two people at the same time! Its frustrating and looks very unprofessional of you. It also demonstrates that you lack proper customer care.
Paul Ken is an Automotive Engineer and left his paid job to start his own company