“It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last…” – Counting Crows, Long December
Despite an epic failure rate, New Year’s Resolutions persist in the human psyche. If you are a business owner, the pressure is two-fold: you have your personal improvement goals, and on top of that it just feels (for most of us) like the right time to make changes in the business.
Well, it’s January 15 and If your 2020 kick-start has already gone wobbly, we get it. Change is always easier in our heads than in our offices. We’ve been thinking about a few ways you can make sure the changes you seek become reality this time. But this is not a list parading as an article (now commonly known as the “List-icle”). These are some true examples from the halls of CLM and some of our best clients:
One client has begun an honest effort to place a high priority on improving internal communications at his company. This is sweet music to my ears. The content of our consulting meetings with clients isn’t always strictly financial, and we would like to think that we had some influence on this initiative. But it doesn’t matter; the point is that the client has recognized that a significant source of trouble in the organization is tied back to poor (or insufficient) communication. The staff sends too many emails that should be phone calls or in-person meetings – and those emails are often unclear, presumptive, or outright confusing to their recipients (both internal and external). Oh, but group emails are so efficient, right? There are a few ways to kill your business with so-called efficiency, and this is one of them. Take a bold step – develop a sensible internal communications policy (as we have at CLM) and your staff will be happier while still finding efficiency. If you want to know more, ask us about it.
Another client started using the phrase “culture of billing” around his offices – as in, “We need to have a culture of billing.” The client is in the professional services industry. What does the phrase mean? It means, get paid for the valuable work that you do. Resist the temptation to discount yourself for the sake of pleasing customers/clients. Very often, you end up competing against yourself; the customer isn’t even balking at your prices, but you assume that he will. Of course, we all want to price our services fairly and honestly. That is a given, for decent people. Preemptive discounting causes you anxiety, lost profits, and actually de-values your work in the eyes of the customer. Why not assume that your customers are precisely aware of your value and importance to them?
Finally, another client has admitted that she actually doesn’t know how to effectively market her business. It seems the whole world assumes that young business owners automatically understand e-commerce and social-media marketing, just because they grew up in the age of the PC and the smart-phone. This is false. Now, at CLM, our advice is centered on profitability, not marketing, per se. But it is a problem area, and we are going to ensure that this client finds the outside help that she needs. It started with a basic vulnerability – “I don’t know as much as I thought I knew.” That is the kind of introspection that every business owner needs in order to keep elevating the business to the next level, and the next. This new year, admit what you don’t know, and get busy finding the advice you need in those areas. You will find immense strength in vulnerability.
If you are struggling to make the changes that you know are necessary in your business, talk to us at CLM.