Wouldn’t it be great if we absolutely knew that all entrepreneurs only adhere to honest business practices? That means wanting nothing but to serve their clients to the best of their ability, knowing limitations and owing up when things don’t go as planned. Unfortunately though, we see (and hear) service providers engaging in dubious activities, hurting their clients, their own reputations and ultimately their businesses. As Warren Buffet said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Here is a breakdown:
Over-promising and under delivering
This is a classic example of those who believe that business success is only about closing the sale. In their minds, their job ends when a client signs on the dotted line or submits a payment. They have no intention of meeting or surpassing clients’ expectations. And, if the client “doesn’t come back, so be it.” There are many ramifications to this, all stemming from lack of accountability. You cannot build a business on promises.
So, why should you stay away from business practices like this? Other than the obvious, of course, very rarely are clients happy (because they were expecting so much more!) and they won’t come back. What else is at stake? Your conscious and reputation.
What to do: promise only what you are absolutely sure you can deliver. Instead of embellishing your proposals, be real and aim to exceed your clients’ expectations.
Let’s say you are trying to land a client and you offer them a particular package. Now, you know that package is not really what they need at the time. As a matter of fact, the client asks you for more clarification because they have a feeling that is not really going to help them. But you really want to close the business! So what do you do? You take some creative license, and edit your marketing material or product description to get them in the door. The client hears what they want to hear and boom! They are in. Now what? You broke the law, misrepresented your service and aced Shady business practices 101.
What to do: be honest and transparent. If your product or service is not what your client needs, say so.
Not taking responsibility
In this particular example of shady business practices, you overpromised, under-delivered and took on some creative license when describing your product. And what happens next is borderline delusional. When your client brings this up to your attention, you act surprised, refuse to accept there is a problem with your service, and somehow throw it back on your client’s court as their responsibility.
What to do: own up and resolve the situation before it escalates, and because it is the right thing to do.
What all of these business practices have in common is that they come from a place of dishonesty and lack of integrity. Clients will be unhappy, they won’t return, and problems (if not legal issues) will start piling up. The result is that your business will eventually collapse. And always remember, the way you run your business is in direct relationship to the way you live your life. So think about that for a minute.
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