About a year and a half ago, Mike and I were sitting on the set about to tape my msnbc program Your Business and I asked him to tell me one thing he’s learned that can help other small business owners. Here’s what he told me: “When a competitor goes out of business, immediately call the phone company and ask to have their number redirected to yours. You’ll have to train your staff to politely explain that the company they intended to reach has gone out of business and that you can provide them with excellent service.”
My reaction, when I heard that, was …what a useful, simple and smart piece of advice. No surprise. Mike, as anyone who is reading this knows, is a natural born entrepreneur who can look at your business and within minutes come up with some great ideas on things you can be doing better (just look at some of the makeovers’s he’s lead on Your Business).
Well, with that tip (and a few others I had heard), together with Your Business producers Lisa Everson and Frank Silverstein, I was off and running on a quest to put together a list of the most practical actionable tips I could learn from the thousands of entrepreneurs we interview in the course of putting the show together. Here are a few of my favorites:
Tip #69: Set expectations high from the start. This tip came from a woman I worked with at Cooking.com. Whenever a new employee would hand in a project, she would ask them, ”Do you think this is absolutely complete and your best work?” Then she’d give them a chance to go back and fix it (if it needed fixing). She was very nice about it, but by asking that question, she made it very clear that she would not put up with any kind of slacking off. Because of this, she got employees who really gave it their all. And, people loved working for her because she set the bar high and supported people in reaching it.
Tip # 123: Get your holiday gift noticed. There’s no rule that says mid to end December is the only time to send out gifts to your customers, partners and employees. Frankly, if you send them then, they’ll most likely get lost in a pile of other gifts they receive. So, Rieva Lesonsky of GrowBizMedia says to buck the trend –send your gifts out before Thanksgiving!
Tip # 109: Never say no to a potential customer. I learned this from Kimberly and Katherine Corps from Pilates on Fifth. I was sitting in their reception area one day and a woman came in and asked the receptionist, “Do you have yoga here?” And the receptionist answered, “We have pilates and cardiolates, have you tried one of those?” What a smart response. Most people would have replied “No,we don’t have yoga,” and the woman would have walked out the door. Instead, by finding a way around saying no, the receptionist got this woman interested in cardiolates and she ended up signing up for a class!
We gathered all of the tips in the book It’s Your Business – 183 Essential Tips that Will Transform Your Small Business
But we know that 183 is just the start! Please share your favorite tip with us here!
By JJ Ramberg