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27 February 2015

To Improve Business: Get the heck out of your business {Yes really!}

In our business and professional life, sometimes the hardest things for us to grasp is that working harder isn’t always the answer to becoming better.

We all get busy “Making the donuts”, servicing customers or accounts and making sure we produce what we’ve promised. However, tomorrow’s orders are never certain, but competition and new obstacles are a certainty so you’ve got to always be working to retain and grow new customers and build advocates.

The innovation and passion to take your business to the next level is hard to come by when you’re focus is myopic and singularly applied IN the business. You’ve heard the phrase; you’ve got to make time to work “ON” the business. Sometimes, the best place to do that is outside of the business.

Sometimes, the best place to improve business is to get outside of the business.

8 ways to improve your business by walking out the door.

1) Find out who else are people buying? What other vendors or merchants do your customers patronize? Why do they choose them and what is influencing their decisions? Get out and get to know those businesses. Build relationships with them, work, collaborate, and partner with them to create stronger ties to your existing customers and leverage them as potential referral sources.

2) Do good – not just do business. Give more to get more. Use your special talent or expertise to help or solve problems for others. Don’t just “sit” on boards. Stand up on boards. Volunteer. Move people, use your real assets and perspective to solve problems and execute ideas. You might take some new ideas back to your business to shake things up.

3) Meet people – not just customers. Know what’s going on in your market, industry, other markets, other industries. Attend professional organizational meetings, become affiliate members in groups with similar audiences. Knowing what’s happening up channel and down channel from your customers can help you be innovative in building new programs or products or prospects.

4) Get out of everyone’s way. Let talent shine. Hire people smarter, better, more specialized than you. Figure out your role – as leader, innovator, challenger, visionary, driver . . . and guide your team but don’t smother them. Let them understand that you trust them to bring their skills to the table and execute – while you go out and get them the tools, resources and customers to make the whole organization rock.

5) Step back – assess what makes you great. Ask your customers. Get their feedback. Take a look around at who’s new in your marketplace. Who’s angling in on your territory. What makes you great compared to other options? It’s probably not the just the products. Amplify what makes you great, unique and valuable to your customers.

6) Thank the people – in the business and of the business. Get out shake hands, kiss babies and really show your appreciation to the people who support your business. People want to know that you care about more than just their money. And as far as the people in your business, have a picnic, go bowling, organize a corn hole tournament or just take everyone to a movie. Small and grand gestures both demonstrate that you appreciate the people that work with you for more than what they do; you appreciate who they are, their dedication and loyalty. Compensation comes in more forms than a paycheck. Rewards, acknowledgement, recognition, and appreciation go a long way to employee satisfaction and engagement.

7) Champion other businesses. Your business clientele, your vendors, partners, advocates and referrals would really appreciate your support and advocacy.  Spend some time and good energy promoting them – you’ll be a resource to your customers and give them the reasons and tools to promote and refer you in return.

8) Go on vacation {Ack! Super hard for business owners and sales pros}. Recharge, refresh, and get out of the grind and old habits. Don’t bring your laptop. Don’t check email or check in if you can help it. Play, relax, think, meditate . . . come back with new visions, new commitments and new energy to implement and execute fresh ideas and new strategies.

Sure, these are all easier said than done when you have deadlines and deliverables, but working smarter, not harder means getting up and looking around at what’s happening outside of your business bubble. Where can you find fresh eyes, fresh inspiration or a new outlook improve business and move it forward?

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!

-sks

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