Case study: I recently returned from a business trip to Italy where the group I was with had the privilege to meet in small conferences with the CEO’s of Boeing, Reggiani Lighting, Mapai chemicals, Impact Hub, and about 5 other well-known Italian companies. What I noticed was an amazing similarity. Italian successful business owners are incredibly genuine, so gracious, and always speak kindly about their competitors. If there are faults in their company or of their competitors, the CEO’s would be very open about those shortcomings, but immediately follow the comment up quickly with the faults and difficulties of doing business in that particular industry. They are genuine people, and genuine business owners, and genuine leaders.
Many business owners wonder, what is the best way to get noticed, make a difference, and grow a great company? Some say that it’s Mission, vision, follow up, a drive for sales, knowledge, social media influencers, great financial backers, etc. Those may all be true, however, the truly great business owners and entrepreneurs cannot ever have a truly great product or company without being genuine. If you want a product to be successful, you need to approach each step of the customer life cycle AND the product life cycle with genuine care. Here are 3 steps to make your business the best genuine business it can be:
Step #1-Show Gratitude
Expressing gratitude not only sounds good to everyone that hears it, but it reminds your team and your customers that you care. Celebrate the wins your team and company have as well as letting them in on your own wins and defeats.
Case study: I worked with a client a few years ago in an industry I didn’t love. I worked with their company for 5 years (much longer than other clients) because the business owner always treated me with kindness, appreciated my hard work, sent emails, texts, and hand written cards out of the blue stating how my work was truly making a difference to his company, with specific examples. When there was a mistake or an adjustment to be made, he was very professional about how it was handled. He called me personally, mentioned how grateful he was for all I was doing, and then brought up the change that needed to be made, in a way that showed me he felt like it was something anyone would do, and wasn’t a big deal. He then closed the conversation with the knowledge he was counting on me and knew I could handle it my own way. .
Step #2-Forgive and Forget
See the world through the eyes of those with which you come in contact. Many times things won’t seem fair. Especially in the competitive small business versus big business entrepreneurial world. Take some time to think about why someone controversial would position themselves the way they are. Don’t rush to make a decision. Take a break and come back to it later. This helps you cool off, see their side/point, and create a plan that works for both. After you have moved on, don’t hold anything against them. Use negotiative tactics to create a win-win strategy showing the other side that you understand where they are coming from but you need a solution as well. Creative business plans have often come about from collaborating and being open to new ideas while still holding strong to what needs to be done.
Step #3-Give Back
When you have a good year, as hard as it may be, set a bonus aside for those who have worked hard alongside you, even your clients or customers. Remember that you wouldn’t be where you are without them. Even if you have a bad year, the widow’s mite can go a long way. Use kindness as a motivator and become involved in your community, college, help our your business mentors, send a note and a gift to your collaborators. Go big here. Big hearts are remembered much more than big sales people. Pay people what they are worth, not necessarily what you have. Honor the conversations you’ve had in the past about giving out raises, even if it’s not as much as you had initially promised.
Team members and customers love gratitude, being noticed, and having a say in the future of the company. Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Many times we think “woe is me, no one is [giving us kudos, giving back to us, forgiving my struggling company] so why should I do the same for others?” This is not logical, or emotionally sound thinking. A religious leader, James E. Faust has said:
“As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.”
When we start showing gratitude for what others around us are doing, we start noticing all the good that we are accomplishing. Sunny dispositions and cheerful attitudes are NOT overrated. They are professional, they create strong leaders and dynamic businesses that people LOVE to follow, work hard for, and be a part of. So, that being said, “Have a great day!, even if it didn’t start out that way!”