For some reason, I have really struggled to find the right words this week . Perhaps I am distracted by school holidays and wedding plans (just agreed the design for the invites!), or maybe I just have too much to say (I am gobby so and so).
Anyway, I really want to get this out today so here goes. My 5 golden rules of business are:
Rule 1: don’t make promises you can’t keep
I never make promises I can’t keep in both my business and personal life. I believe (and hope friends would back me up on this) that if I say I am going to do something, I do it. End of story. This translates well into my work life where honesty really is the best policy. There is nothing worse than letting a client down at the last minute or missing that deadline. Make sure all targets are achievable and keep to deadlines. Your client won’t give a monkeys that you have 10 other jobs to do. They are only interested in their job.
Rule 2: do the job properly or don’t do it at all
A job which has been done badly is not worth doing. In fact, in my book it’s far worse to do a job badly than not do the job at all. Establish your quality level and stick to it! If you don’t, it’s not just your client you are letting down, it’s yourself and your reputation. In this day and age, service is everything, drop your service level from what your client has come to expect and you may risk losing that client.
Rule 3: separate work from personal time
Guilty as charged Sir! This is probably the hardest bit for me. I am sure anybody reading this who has their own business whilst juggling house/children struggles on this front. One of my friends frequently burns the midnight oil (you know who you are). You need to have clear divisions between work and play, both physically and emotionally. Have a dedicated work space. Set specific work times – both client time and your own time for developing your business/research/emails/finance etc. Don’t try and mix children and work. Kids have a knack of running in on that important phone call, or spilling juice over your paperwork. They also don’t appreciate sharing you with your laptop and nor should they. As the secondary earner and the parent just setting up business from our home, I am chief child carer as well as chief domestic goddess (ha ha in my dreams). All child and house responsibility falls to me from sickness to holiday cover, from shopping to cleaning, from washing to running errands. If I am honest with myself, this won’t change drastically until the youngest starts school. Hopefully then I will heed my own advice.
Rule 4: be prepared!
This is a given. Opportunity can strike at any time, in any place. Always carry a pen and paper (in my case my IPhone) and a wad of business cards/flyers. My notes are constantly updated and serve as a key reminder. I take photos as a reminder too. I email myself. I keep webpages open on my phone until I get home and have time to note them down/investigate properly. Keep on top of these things, don’t just make a mental note.
Rule 5: learn from your mistakes and move on
Everybody makes mistakes. Come on, we’re human. The key is to learn from them and move on. Don’t regret what you’ve done, only regret what you haven’t done (sorry what a cliché). Mistakes are all part of everyday life, they are how we improve and it’s important not to let them drag you down. Don’t dwell for too long, hold your head up high and admit you’re wrong.
Right, I’m done. It’s time for me to pick up the kids, walk the dog and prepare dinner. Keep an eye out for the next installment – I’m going to give you lots of reasons to hire a Virtual Assistant. Of course not just any VA, me.
(Originally published 12 April 2013)