People who run small businesses will tell you one of the most difficult challenges they face is maintaining their standard of excellence. It takes discipline to keep it up year after year after year.
Perhaps that’s why they find motivational books and speeches so attractive. For generations Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziegler and others have offered people in small business and the professions inspiration to provide the best service they can.
I read at least one inspirational message every day. In fact, I’ve read so many over the years, I think I’ll try my hand at preparing one myself. So here – with apologies to Stephen Covey – are Dick Nichols’ Seven Habits of People Who Build Long Lasting Businesses.
1. Living out of a deep well
People who build long lasting businesses define their values and standards, and strive to live up to them, even when it’s inconvenient.
2. Leaving it all out on the field
People who value long lasting business relationships share all their knowledge, experience, and passion with clients and coworkers, and expect them to do the same.
3. Valuing their client’s mission
People who build long lasting businesses consider the mission of their client’s mission to be paramount and work hard to help ensure it is accomplished.
4. Embracing the dignity of honest competition
People who build long lasting businesses compete with integrity, respecting the rules of competition but not giving up until the game is over.
5. Hustling while they wait
People who build long lasting businesses know what it is to work hard but have the wisdom and patience to wait for things to happen when necessary.
6. Carrying the message
People who build long lasting businesses remind prospects what they can do for them even when their audience is indifferent. Because they persevere, the message eventually gets through.
7. Doing their best all the time
People who build long lasting businesses make sure their work is done well. Customers are not only seeking the best products; they are also seeking the best people.
Have you noticed that these are also the keys to building any relationship? Or that they require no formal education and, with surprisingly little effort, can be acquired by anyone?
So, if you’re a dessert chef, prepare desserts that take your diner’s breath away; if you run a store, make sure courtesy and consideration are part of your inventory; if you’re a contractor, heed the words of the architect John Ruskin, who once said “let us think that we build forever, and remember as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands touched them.”
It’s hard to stay motivated for an entire career – especially in tough times like these – but the great thing about being in small business is that you’re right in front of your customers most of the time.
They’ll help restart your engine if you let them. I’m constantly amazed by how much a few minutes of shooting the breeze with a client helps restart mine.
Dick Nichols writes about business in The Western Wheel and blogs at loosechangeblog.com