Recently, I was looking for an accountant using Yelp. I came across a review where the reviewer asked simple questions and the accountant kept avoiding straight answers. Worse, the accountant was non-committal and kept exclaiming “I’m an honest accountant” as a reply to every question. This woman’s behavior didn’t give her customers confidence in her as an accountant.
Part of being in business is dealing with the responsibility of dealing with things that can go wrong. It’s important to realize that fear of these bad outcomes exists and to realize you can deal with it when it happens.
I once bought eye glasses from a nice boutique place in Syracuse, NY. The glasses took an extra few weeks to get to me. Why? It turns out the frames I selected were a poor fit for the prescription I had. While making the final pair of glasses, three pairs of lenses were broken. Someone had to eat that cost. It wasn’t me.
Even though these bad situations are a part of business, they’re rare. When they do happen, they have a cost and that cost is usually something that the overall profit margins can absorb.
I used to work as a consultant. One thing I really disliked is I behaved much like the accountant in the first story. I was always thinking about what could go wrong and working with a fear of what would happen if I couldn’t deliver what I had promised. Fortunately the clients knew my work and put up with my quirks.
From that experience I’ve learned. If you’re in business, it’s ok to plant your flag and exclaim “this is what I’m offering”. Own it and be ready and willing to tackle what goes wrong.
I run a website service that gives customers (some big, some small) paid feedback on their site. I have a control freak’s nightmare. I work with a completely anonymous work force. Imagine the level of control I have in this situation. When I started, I had tested the concept and was satisfied it provided value. Yet, I was still pretty scared of it so I priced it way low to compensate. Fast forward over a year later, this service is growing and my anonymous work force has serviced many happy customers. There is a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong.
Once, I had a worker write a very vulgar review filled with swear words. Imagining this situation in the beginning of my service may have been enough to stop me from pursuing it. The customer brought it to my attention and was happy to accept my apology and a few extra responses as compensation. I also added a feature to let me ban misbehaving workers to my system. I learned that bad can happen but when the bad happens, it’s also a chance to shine.
Part of being in business is having the courage to own some task and tell the world you can do it. Don’t worry about what can go wrong–it will. When it happens, you’ll find customers are happy to work with you so long as you’re fair and treat them with respect. When starting, focus on inspiring confidence and realize the rest will work itself out.