While business and work etiquette are important for any organization, the need for them is heightened for those owning a small businesses. Smaller office spaces mean that you work more closely with your colleagues than you would at a larger organization. A lot of small businesses interact with clients in-person, rather than through emails or teleconferences. Under these circumstances one needs to be acutely aware of their etiquette and personal grooming. This will help create a better impression for your enterprise and will also facilitate a more conducive work environment.
Here are some dos and don’ts of work place etiquettes.
Casual not shabby
Many small businesses are more relaxed about what their employees wear to work. They tend to move away from conventional formal looks and opt for smart casuals. Remember that casuals do not mean shabby. Make an effort to wear clothes that complement each other. Wear your clothes neatly washed and pressed. Match your belt and shoes, while keeping them both in good condition.
For many, personal hygiene is a given but you would still come across colleagues who neither keep themselves nor their immediate work environment clean. This includes bad breath, body odour, smelly sock, dirty desks etc. Have an honest discussion with any colleague about how his/her lack of hygiene is affecting the work environment. Make sure to not sound offensive during your discussion.
Be it one’s punctuality to work or making sure client deliverables are met on time; it is important that deadlines are met. Respecting other people’s time is an important business etiquette that directly translates into better work ethic.
It is not just mobile phones anymore, smart phones have invaded the offices. Smart phones are great for multitasking and saving time, but they are also great at offending people. Staring down at your phone while speaking to colleagues, constantly checking it, not putting it on silent and leaving it buzzing on the desk are some acts that can annoy colleagues and disturb the flow of work.
There is no excuse for this habit anywhere but it is especially detrimental for small businesses. Speaking loudly can easily disturb other people, it can make the speaker come across as rude or even uncouth. Make a conscious attempt to monitor your tone and decibel level while communicating in-person or over the phone.
Most of us love speaking about ourselves and like listening to our own voices, but constantly interrupting another person while they are making a point is rude. The more you listen to your client or colleague, the better your insights about your business. The art of listening is an etiquette that can give an edge by helping you accumulate relevant business information.
Being culturally sensitive is vital for organizations of any size. Especially in a culturally rich and diverse country like India, one needs to make an effort to sound politically correct and be respectful of any cultural differences at the work place.
“Btw, we gonna meet l8r rite?” might sound fine when you are messaging your friend to confirm plans but it does not work when you want to confirm a meeting with a client. Make sure to ban slang and SMS lingo from all your business communications- both internal and external. This will ensure that any communication sounds professional and will also make employees more aware about any grammatical errors.
The best way to ensure that business etiquettes are being followed at your organization is to adopt a top-down approach. The business operators/ owners and the top management need to lead by example, for the rest of the enterprise to be aware of the right conduct at work.
We’ve heard it so many times and in so many flavors: The idea that entrepreneurs are born and not made; or that entrepreneurship is in the person’s DNA structure. Regardless of the way it is articulated, it is my belief that entrepreneurs have many attributes that make them who they are. These include their tolerance and willingness to take risks, ability to be self-taught, leadership skills, motivation, inspiration, passion, creativity, confidence, and commitment. Each one of these mentioned attributes deserves full attention and consideration.
Motivation starts with the almost impossible task of motivating yourself and continues with the ability of motivating others. Motivation occurs when someone persuades, compels, forces or coerces you into doing something. You might be able to motivate yourself, at least initially or in the foreseeable future. What is difficult, and almost impossible to do, is to continuously motivate yourself and others. It takes finding ways to rejuvenate and re-energize for the sole purpose of reaching the end goal and succeeding in what you have set out to do. Starting, running, and growing a business is a daunting task, especially in the early stages. Businesses go through cyclical phases, putting a major damp on entrepreneurs, thereby creating obstacles preventing them from attaining their ultimate goal. Without the element of motivation, more specifically self-motivation, the ups and downs would most certainly put an end to those dreams.
Motivation seems to be always coupled with inspiration. As a matter of fact, motivation coupled with inspiration is the essence behind leadership. Leaders are masters at motivating and inspiring their peers and the groups they lead. Entrepreneurs are masters at motivating and inspiring themselves. Entrepreneurship skills when combined with leadership skills may ultimately be the formula for success, especially when it comes to starting and growing scalable, fast-growth, and explosive businesses.
Inspiration gives entrepreneurs the fire to keep going. Inspiration is what makes entrepreneurs get up every morning, work 18-hour days, and go to bed anxious about starting the next day. Inspiration is entirely self-generated and comes from within and from your why. Successful entrepreneurs love what they do. Each and every day they enjoy what they are doing and that’s why they don’t go to work, they go to play. Entrepreneurs should first and foremost seek what they love to do.
It’s exhilarating to see truly motivated and inspired individuals, especially at this stage of my life. It’s like going back to my college days where I was hungry to learn (and continue to be) followed with the thrill of the first time I dared to start my own business. The stories I hear on a regular basis are inspirational. Entrepreneurs mortgage their homes, take on additional debt, maximize their credit cards, tap into their network of family and friends, and do the impossible for what they believe in. Now, that’s called inspiration! Make no mistake about it, not all entrepreneurs are successful. It takes more than inspiration and motivation to be successful. It takes knowledge, intelligence, coach-ability, ability to execute, ability to be agile, pragmatism, objectiveness, preparedness, and timing, to name a few.
Are you ready to take a plunge into the world of entrepreneurship? It’s all up to you. Find your own way by following your heart. Get inspired and strive to motivate yourself. Help others with their entrepreneurial endeavors, learn, and clear the path for your own success.
Not everyone wants to "rule the world" and create a huge business in fact in my experience almost all new businesses end up being small and serving the entrepreneur’s needs rather than turning into a household name.
You may want to create a nice family business or enterprise that meets your needs, that’s really great, these type of businesses I call "lifestyle" businesses.
First and foremost, you should be crystal clear why you want to be a lifestyle entrepreneur. I can pretty much guarantee there will be risks, sacrifices, and other hardships along the way. So before signing on, it would be helpful to know why you’re putting yourself through the challenges that you will face.
Beyond defining the why, you also need to carefully consider how your business will help you meet your lifestyle objectives. If your reason for wanting to start a business is to have more time to spend with your kids, and your business concept involves storefront retail, your method is probably not in line with your objective. There is nothing wrong with running a retail shop for someone whose main goal is to meet lots of people who are interested in the kinds of goods that ship is selling. However, retail shops demand lots of fixed work hours and, more likely than not, lots of late afternoon, weekend, and even holiday hours – hardly the best structure for someone looking to spend time with kids on a school schedule.
On the other hand, if time flexibility is your main goal, a web-based retail business may work quite well for you. Although your online store can be open 24 hours a day, you can fill your orders, plan your marketing, and pay your bills any time you wish. Of course, if your goal is to get out of the house and meet people, an online business just won’t cut it.
A good exercise would be to list your goals concisely in order of their importance to you. Are you considering starting your business to practice a field you love? Or is your goal to contribute to the world with business as your vehicle, or is it to enable you to pursue your passion for travel? Is increasing your income a top priority? Perhaps your most important goal is setting up a business that can involve your children on a day-to-day basis.
The rest of the exercise is to list the ways in which your business concept will help you reach your goals and then list the impediments you may face along the way. If you’re going into business because you want to practice the field you love on your own terms, consider how much time you will spend running the business rather than practicing the field that your business is supposed to enable? If your goal is to travel for months at a time, can you realistically structure your business to permit that kind of time flexibility? A business that caters to, say, winter tourists in a ski area, may well permit such escapades in the summer months, whereas one with clients expecting services year round does not.
Despite my being a dedicated advocate of lifestyle entrepreneurship, I also advocate proceeding with caution. There is no point in going through the effort of setting up a lifestyle business if it won’t help you toward your lifestyle goals. So before proceeding any further, please honestly assess how your business and its structure will and won’t help you toward your lifestyle goals.
Customer care is a crucial element of business success. Every contact your customers have with your business is an opportunity for you to improve your reputation with them and increase the likelihood of further sales.
Customer care involves putting systems in place to maximize your customers' satisfaction with your business. It should be a prime consideration for every business your sales and profitability depends on keeping your customers happy.
Customer care is more directly important in some roles than others. For receptionists, sales staff and other employees in customer facing roles, customer care should be a core element of their job description and training, and a core criterion when you're recruiting.
But don't neglect the importance of customer care in other areas of your business. For instance, your warehousing and shipping departments may have minimal contact with your customers but their performance when fulfilling orders has a major impact on customers' satisfaction with your business.
A huge range of factors can contribute to customer satisfaction, but your customers both consumers and other businesses are likely to take into account:
Satisfied customers will contribute to your business for years, through their purchases and through recommendations and referrals of your business.
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