I’ve got to be honest here — business doesn’t have to be “complex.” Sure, it makes us all feel fuzzy and intricate inside, thinking we’re ‘professional’ (when, quite frankly, we’re not). When you get down to the nitty-gritty of business, really this is all about customer service and how you relate to people.
Just take a look at your kid’s lemonade stand! Look at how ingenious it is…. That’s how business should be run. It’s a numbers game, it’s about communication, it’s about the smile on your face, and there’s no business ‘motto’ or mission statement, plus the product’s pretty easy to understand. You can’t compete with that.
Within that quintessential “lemonade stand” business stands to be some of the most immortal guidelines of good business, starting with….
How You Need to “Roll With the Punches”
Imagine being that kid sitting at the lemonade stand. Imagine seeing that kid stare at the sidewalk with absolutely no prospects. This is a kid we’re talking about, of course, so you can see the emotional turmoil rolling inside the heart, and yet your child seems to have the patience of a rock, waiting it out until somehow the rush begins, and before you know it, this kid is selling lemonade as if it were piles of hotcakes in the mom-and-pop breakfast diner during a shivering winter’s morning.
That’s the ticket! Patience. Perseverance. Somehow these kids know this. That demeanor is the key to success. You have to focus through all the hard times, see the light at the end of the tunnel, and know that everything’s going to be okay. Case in point: we had the dot-com burst, the post 9/11 slowdown and the even larger 2008 stock market crash. Don’t even get me started on the Great Depression way back when, and you can bet that some businesses did survive that nightmare.
They survived because they were willing to keep an eye out on that sidewalk for the entire afternoon, waiting for the rush to show up and buy all the lemonade.
Making People “Feel Good”
I can imagine many of us adults grimacing at the idea. This isn’t about making the customer “feel good”! This is about making money, lots of it. Many CEOs, though, fail to make the important connection that you don’t make that money without actually making the customer feel good.
This means schmoozing, if necessary. You’ve got to wine and dine your customers. Look at your child again at the lemonade stand and realize that this is a cute kid who won’t stop smiling, even if no one’s there. That kid’s proud to have a “business.” Even a sense of humor helps! Be personable. Be lovable. That’s the heart of good business when you think about it. If no one loves you as a person, how can you expect anyone to want to do business with you?
Being an Expert in Your Field
Those days were long gone when we ached to learn, learn, learn. Why is it kids always seemed to love going to the library? There seemed to be a plethora of fun information to learn, and their little, yet compactly vibrant brains seemed to retain just about anything they feed them. And they loved it!
In that same vein, a business can grow if your product grows. Expand your services. Focus on being an expert in the services you provide. It’s not enough to know about your service or product. Use it yourself. Learn it yourself. Become an expert at it. This is why you see those lemonade stands with menus comprised of the most interesting combinations — “lemon chocolate berry” and “raspberry meringue bar surprise” and “cocoa cherry marshmallow-monade.”
Don’t Give in to “Peer Pressure”
We lecture our kids all the time about this, and yet we become hypocrites when we don’t follow this same advice over business matters. Look, I get it: if it works, use it. That mantra hasn’t gone by the wayside. However, just because it works, doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you should use.
Explore your horizons. See if you can open up a trend. Innovate. Break open the mold and start something completely new. Additionally, just because it works, doesn’t mean it works the best. You never know what’s out there — you might find something that’ll even work better than the standard. Once you discover it, you won’t be able to contain the success you’ll achieve.
Get That Safety Net Up
This is a good one, one any business lawyer can attest to. You need a “back-up plan.” We tout this with our kids, too, in that we watch them like hawks and make sure they don’t get a scratch on a knee or a broken bone. We are their safety nets. Why not do the same for our businesses?
We’re so afraid of failing that we do whatever we can to avoid it. That’s the problem. Our world — especially our corporate world — isn’t perfect, so more often than not, business will fail and we’ll be left with the big question: “what do we do now?”
You need to be flexible and have a way around every business dissolve, closing or acquisition. Fall back on something you can do to make ends meet just in case. We all like to see the current business we’re operating flourish. By chance if it doesn’t, though…. You’ve got something to rely on, and it’s all thanks to the advice and standard we hold for ourselves as parents with our kids.
Don’t Get Me Wrong: This Isn’t a “Parenting” Article
It’s very close, though. In a way, your business is very much like your child. Your baby. You want to take care of it. It’s amazing just how similar, though, that business is with a child. You never know what to expect.
Similarly, do the unexpected. Look for those best business practices elsewhere, not necessarily in any business self-help book. Look to your kids and that lemonade stand. While you’re at it, pay a coin for a cup and get refreshed.
About the Author
Matt Faustman is the CEO at UpCounsel. You can follow his business insights on Twitter at @upcounsel.