Launching a small business is a lot like a scavenger hunt. In order to find success, you have to uncover and experience a series of scattered pieces to achieve the larger goal. Communication is one of the fundamental skills required to put your business on the path to success. The best part about collecting all of the communication pieces to your small business scavenger hunt is that there aren’t that many. With just a few simple rules your business is guaranteed to find instant results and rewards, thanks to effective communication.
In order to communicate with others, you must first understand your business inside and out. Who are you? What do you offer? Who is your target audience? What is the problem your brand helps them solve? How are you different? What processes are in place to maintain your boundaries and task efficiency?
When I first started my business as a wedding photographer I had one major pain point: After working 6 hours on my feet I would always be the last vendor plated at the reception. This was problematic, because if the guests were all done with their dinner, then the DJ would go into toasts and I’d be expected to photograph that event, regardless of grumbling stomach and growing hanger.
I quickly acknowledged that this problem needed to be resolved and that correction was in the form of educating my clients. At the end of each new client consultation I would educate the engaged couple on the importance of informing the venue and catering staff I would be plated at the same time as the wedding couple. That way we were eating in sync and then I would be recharged and ready for table photos and toasts when the couple was done eating. I also added this small, but important, topic to my contract and wedding day timeline so that the couple knew their expectation and the impact it would have on the wedding day timeline. Did I still have to wait on occasion? Yes, but it reduces the issue dramatically and my couples were never unhappy with me for the delay, because I set the expectation up front.
Know your limits. What is most important to you, your business, and your personal life? Jot them on paper and incorporate them into your processes so your clients have clear understanding of your boundaries in every step of the client experience.
As a small business owner, you’re wearing a lot of hats. Trying to manage tasks, pay bills, juggle home life, and complete deadlines is a lot like having 10 departments in one role. Managing the stress of business ownership can be alleviated in leaps and bounds when we accept one basic truth: Under Promise, Over Deliver.
Under Promise, Over Deliver. The key to any successful business model lies in this one mantra. When we give our clients clear and realist expectations up front, we can accommodate their needs and provide a better overall customer experience.
When you go on a cruise and you book the cheapest cabin on board and they upgrade your booking to a balcony suite… They OVER DELIVERED! This is Marketing 101 and one of your best strategies for word of mouth referrals. When we set realistic expectations with our customers upfront we are increasing the likelihood of return business and that is the number one goal.
It’s always wise to build honest and strong relationships with your customers, but it wouldn’t be real life if ‘issues’ and miscommunications didn’t spring up from time to time. If you’re business is based on ongoing client communication across multiple platforms: face to face, phone, text, Skype, email, etc. it is always best to recap what was shared in your various conversations in email form. This gives the client the opportunity to agree with what was shared and acknowledges any outstanding tasks from both parties.
It’s also encourages to keep a private record of communication and concerns for each client to ensure your business is safeguarded from problems down the road.
As you begin to grow your small business, you will quickly learn to pivot your communication styles and systems to best align with your needs. There is significant value in taking a few moments each month and assessing how you could have communicated better, based on the trends of that previous month.
Once you’ve nailed down these basic rules to communication you’ll be on constant alert looking for opportunities to educate your clients and improve your client experiences. Remember, don’t beat yourself up too bad, we are all growing together and there is a never-ending learning curve to the entrepreneurial life cycle. Good luck in your journey!
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Spend more time on the things you love.
It doesn’t matter what service you provide or what product you sell: If you want loyal customers and clients, then delivering a great customer experience is essential.
Talking about the “businessy” side of things with potential clients can be a drag when you’re wanting to provide an amazing experience.
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