Ten Lessons I Learned About Running A Small Business-Part Two

Yesterday I covered five lessons that I have learned about running a small business, and guess what? Today, you get the next five lessons. Aren't you glad you checked back?

  • Stay in touch with people in similar fields. There will be times when you will want to throw up your hands and give up. Days when you think, "I suck at this, what was I thinking? I'm sending out my resume this week." Weeks when your numbers are telling you that you are a failure at running a small business. In those times, it is invaluable to have someone who is either in the same situation, or who has been there in the past. Someone who can commiserate with you, offer you advice and suggestions, and get your spirits back up. Remember what I said yesterday: business is cyclical. If you are the type of person who gets discouraged and gives up after the first setback, you shouldn't be doing this in the first place.
  • On the flip side of what I talked about above, avoid hanging out with vampires-those business owners who want to suck away at all of your confidence and hope, and make you feel like you are doomed from the start. These types come in two flavors: the negative, pessimistic doomsayers who spend all their time talking about how hard it will be to succeed, and the undercover competitors who act like friends, but are secretly hoping that you crash and burn.
  • Remember the old saying, "Fake it til you make it?" More valuable advice has never been spoken. Start thinking of yourself as successful, and it will come to be. Project an image, and soon that image becomes reality. If you want a busy business, put that imagery out there: when people call, let them know that they may have to wait for availability (even if your calendar is empty up until 2013.) People want to think that the item or service they are purchasing is valuable, and if it is something they can easily attain, it loses its importance to them. I'm not telling you to make customers jump through hoops of fire to see you, but make yourself (or your product) just slightly unattainable, and they will want it all the more.
  • Sharpen your interpersonal skills. Many of you out there may think, "my job isn't to make friends, it is to do XYZ." This may be true, but before anything else takes place, you need to be a good communicator. You may be the best mechanic in the world, but if you can't do any better than surly grunts, no one will come back...or refer you out to friends. You don't have to change your personality completely, just try to be the best version of yourself. Use manners, open doors, and say "please" and "thank you." It will go a long way.
  • Sometimes, you will run into truly wretched human beings. When you are building a business, it is natural to want to hold on to every single client, regardless of what they are like, but it is not worth it to sacrifice your energy and sanity dealing with these people. Kindly cut them loose, (or better yet, refer them to a vampire competitor.)