Otherwise intelligent people often damage their business reputation with simple acts that say far more about them than they realize.
Most of the time they are unaware of the effect, but the fact is that people judge us by our worst actions. Here are 10 actions that will quickly damage a business.
Not recognizing it’s a business. All businesses need to make money. I wish I could work without getting paid. But if I don’t make money, I am not going to be in business. Why should my business do things for no fee when your business can make money from what I might do for you? If you can’t afford my services, then tell me that. I appreciate the truth.
Side note: Telling me that you can do what I do for free or get it from a friend for free says more about you than what you think it says about my pricing.
Not listening. In the last month, four people have told me all about their business, two taking more than 20 minutes each of my time, without asking one question of me or wondering if I even cared. They lost my respect over that time while they thought they might be gaining me as a client.
Not being respectful of people’s time. People’s time is valuable, even if yours isn’t. If someone says they have 10 minutes for you, then adhere to it. He or she will reward you next time you request time. How bad is this problem: I used to be able to score tough interviews when I was a reporter by promising that I would take no more than five minutes of the person’s time. The source thought it impossible. And often the accepted the challenge. I made it happen, often ending 30 seconds early. Funny thing is that they often asked for more time when I pointed out that my time was expiring.
Not checking phone messages. If a business isn’t going to check its messages at least once a day, it would be better to tell people that. Setting the expectation that someone is checking them by suggesting that I leave one is senseless if no one really cares.
Not checking email. At least once a day, prudent business owners check their email. To let it go any longer is to indicate a lack of interest in conducting business. It’s as bad as not checking phone messages.
Not carrying a business card. The value of the business card is only as good as the ability to present it when someone wants one.
Interrupting a business discussion. People who believe themselves to be too important to wait often show how unimportant they really are when they interrupt two people who clearly are involved in a business discussion. If neither person acknowledges you, walk away and come back later.
Opening a closed door before someone says it is okay. Doors should remain closed, since they are typically closed for a reason, until someone offers an invitation to open it. To act in any other fashion when outside the door is the same as interrupting a business discussion.
Apologizing for how you dressed. You have full control of what you wear each day so make the right decision. If there’s a 1% chance that it will be at all dressy, wear a tie or appropriate business attire.
Rushing me while you delay. Nothing frustrates me more than when people require me to do something right away, then it sits idle in their email, on their desk or wherever for days, weeks, months.
What did I miss?