…and how taking a few small steps now, could make a huge difference in the long run.
The ‘day to day’ of running a business has its ups and downs, you already know that, but how many hours a day do you actually spend worrying about things you have absolutely no control over?
It probably doesn’t bear thinking about…
Clicking refresh every few seconds on your email inbox, as you wait to receive an urgent reply, sending a fifth reminder about an unpaid invoice, staring at the phone waiting for that long anticipated call back…
We’ve all been there, but unfortunately, many of these things are out of our control, simply because of the fact that other human beings are involved.
And human beings, by their very nature, can be unreliable.
So, buck that trend. Set the example.
We’re going to talk about how you can mitigate against the unreliable nature of human beings, but we’re also going to turn the lens around a bit, and show how by taking control of the things you really can take control of, you just might influence others to do the same.
At the very least, you might learn who is worth building and maintaining relationships with, and who is worth keeping at arms’ length.
So, how can you solve the problem of being ‘left on read’, or having to wait days, weeks and months for emails and correspondence to be replied to?
The first thing to remember, is to not get ‘sarcy’ about things. As much as it may feel personal, it rarely is. Try and encourage swift responses with the tone of your writing. Are you including direct questions? This is a good way of ensuring a fast response. Keep the tone appropriate to the particular relationship. Don’t ask how someone’s family is if you don’t know them personally. It’s irrelevant and even a little creepy!
By the same token, if you do know someone a little better than just from screen to screen, don’t be afraid to add that personal touch to an email. Generic responses are all well and good, but guess what, they tend to extract generic responses, or worse, are ignored.
Tailor your correspondence to the recipient, make each sentence count. It’s a small step, but it could make a difference at the other end of the conversation and encourage a more prompt reply.
Oh, and something else you can do?
Practice what you preach. Even if you have to pencil in the time to reply to emails properly and promptly, make sure you do it, or pay someone you trust to do it for you.
We’re not saying you need to be contactable 24 hours a day, unless you want to be or if your business depends on it, but being prompt with returning enquiries and emails sent to yourself, is something that you absolutely have full control over.
Be the change you want to see, or words to that effect.
If your frustration is more with the payment side of things, a lack of it, or a delay with it, then there are, again, small steps you can take to encourage speedier settlements.
Capitalising the word ‘INVOICE’ in the subject box works wonders, but so does having a robust set of T&Cs that set out exactly what the implications are for late payments.
Businesses take advantage of other businesses, because holding onto cash for as long as possible benefits the business holding onto the cash.
It’s simple really, when you think about it, and it’s almost understandable, as much as we dislike it, that a company would stretch out deadlines to their own advantage.
You have to be firm but fair with your payment periods, and you know what, if certain businesses take the proverbial, then change your conditions with them in future, based on their previous performance. Ask for payment before the work commences, and don’t be afraid to explain why.
Businesses close their doors every single day for the sake of avoiding awkward conversations. Why should a business close due to unpaid invoices? It’s insane!
But it happens more often than any of us would like to think.
The same applies for you too. Don’t expect others to pay invoices swiftly and on time if you don’t. You also know that ‘cash is King’ and that it’s better in your bank than in theirs, but you can’t complain about late payers if you yourself fall into this category.
This is, once again, something you have absolute control over.
Be reliable. Be punctual. Be early even!
The reputation you’ll carve for yourself is worth it alone, but what goes around, really does come around in business, and you’ll soon surround yourselves with the companies and individuals who share your ethos of paying what is owed, when it’s owed, and to whom it is owed.
It sounds simple, because it is. Dates shouldn’t count for nothing, and missing deadlines should have a consequence. Set the example.
Another small step you can take with the ‘day to day’, again to do with keeping in touch, is to be a reliable ‘caller backer’, if you like.
It’s difficult to put anything into place to encourage this from the other end, especially as people are becoming more and more reluctant to speak on the phone nowadays, preferring emails and messaging apps, but you can buck that trend.
You can be the one they can call, as cheesy as that sounds.
Don’t be glued to your phone, just in case someone calls, we’re not saying that, but once again, big changes start with small steps, and you can control this one.
If you tell someone to call you at a certain time, answer the phone. If you say you’re going to call someone back, make sure you do it!
You have control over this. Full control, and it’s just another example of how taking control of the small ‘day to day’ things, can make a big and lasting impact to the journey, reputation and success of your business.
So, the next time you’re silently (or vocally) cursing that company who never pick up the phone, or the client who needs three or four reminders to pay, or the ‘Out of Office’ automated email reply, take a deep breath, accept that some things are beyond your control, and then address what is within your control.
Small steps in your ‘day to day’ that can influence how others interact with you and behave towards you are important.
Small steps in your ‘day to day’ that set an example, and buck those annoying trends, are not just important, but can actually be business and character defining as well.