Are you a sinner?
We’ve all seen them. The “professional” that doesn’t return phone calls. The plumber who shows up in a ripped Motley Crue t-shirt. Or the loquacious consultant who doesn’t mind telling you the latest town gossip.
It’s easy to point these sins out in others. But are you guilty of these too?
I’m not perfect, and I’ve committed several business sins over the years. But I’ve tried to live and learn from my mistakes. So before you commit some horrible business sin, take the time to learn how to avoid being a business sinner.
1. Not Returning Communications in a Timely Manner
You don’t have to be accessible to your clients 24/7. I don’t believe in letting clients run my life or my communications. But there are some common courtesies that most people expect. Not getting back to me for over 3 business days is not okay and it’s a huge business sin.
Remember, we live in a technological world. You can get access your phone and email from virtually anywhere in the world. Ignoring people sends the message that they are not important enough to respond to.
Plus, there is a very easy way to avoid this situation. If you are going to be unavailable for more than 24-48 hours, change your phone message. Explain when you will be able to return calls. And set up an auto-response message in your email system.
Here are links that will show you how to set this up:
2. Don’t Dress the Part
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression
— Will Rogers
It’s really that simple. What you wear speaks volumes about your brand. We are wired to create an impression by sight first. Perhaps it’s not fair, but it’s a universal law you can’t avoid.
I fall into the Business Casual category, which probably doesn’t include flip-flops. It also doesn’t include ripped jeans & Motley Crue t-shirts. Regardless of whether your a financial adviser, hairdresser or plumber, there is a suitable dress code for your profession.
If you’re confused about what to wear, check out these resources:
3. Forgetting You’re a Professional and Sharing Too Much Personal Information
Here’s a paraphrased version of some great advice I heard years ago: “Never share overly personal information with your clients. They don’t care. They are not there to be your friend”.
Whatever sort of interaction you have in a professional setting, you have to remember you are there for BUSINESS. It’s not time to share details of your dating life, your horrible kids, who’s cheating on who or any other bit of nonsense.
Rule of Thumb:
Be friendly. Try to build rapport with shared interests (soccer, BBQ, hiking, dogs, PTO meetings, etc.). But never gossip, share overly personal information or forget that you’re a professional.
4. Not Having a Strict Payment Policy
I learned this lesson learned the hard way.
After being burned more than once, I changed my entire payment policy. Now, I don’t work without being paid at least half upfront. Businesses operate differently and some bill their services with a 30-day payment option. Depending on your unique business, you will know what will work for you.
But having no payment policy leaves you in a risky position. Not getting paid sucks. It can be stressful and takes time away from what you really want to do. So create a detailed policy plan that reduces the need for you to chase down payments.
5. Shouting I’m Unprofessional!
Here are some sins I’ve seen self-employed “professionals” commit:
- business cards made from home printer with stickers on them
- hand painted plywood sign advertising a service but looks like something my 4-year-old nephew made
- email with so many grammar mistakes that I was embarrassed for the poor girl
- texting during a business meeting with a potential client
These are all huge business sins and they shout “I’m not ready to play in the majors!”.
Time to Admit Your Sins
We’re all guilty of business sins. We are not perfect. But take a long look at how you run your micro business. What sins are you guilty of and what can you do to avoid doing them in the future.
Live and learn. When you know better, do better. Because the biggest business sin is not learning from our mistakes and continue to make them over and over and over and…