3 Characteristics of Lousy Business Owners
Over the last holiday we went on a family trip and having five kids left the vehicle quite a mess. Think Twister meets Hoarders.
I’m standing there trying to subtly brush the fries out of the bottom of my van into a crumpled up grocery bag while balancing the huge car vacuum hose over my shoulder when I hear “You’re such an a**hole!”
Of course, here I am thinking I was being yelled at for the runaway crumbs that tumbled out the vehicle door when it opened.
I turn around to see this red-faced man pointing into the face of this young-blonde-mom (thank goodness not me) who had complained her money was “stolen” by the vacuum cleaner. Apparently she had dug out the last four quarters under her mounds of ground gold-fish and crumpled up apple juice containers and was extremely frustrated that her last coins were sucked up by this machine instead.
The man yelling this awful term was apparently the owner of the carwash who had taken offense to her accusation of “theft” by this inanimate object. The young mom, with mouth wide open at his response, jumped into her vehicle and tore off without so much as a word.
I, the only other customer at the car wash now, quickly picked up a renegade straw wrapper and finished vacuuming for fear this owner would yell at ME also.
Lousy. Absolutely lousy customer service by a business owner wouldn’t ya think?
I surely hope none of y’all act this lousy to your clients – and I imagine you don’t. But even if you don’t act this way, we all feel a little lousy sometimes right?
That is normal in business (Mr. Meanie’s actions aren’t normal).
In fact, throughout my experience as a business owner and observing others, I’ve found three characteristics of lousy business owners I want to share so you can avoid being lousy – ‘cause if you succeed, we all succeed. A rising tide raises all ships, right?
#1 – Communication snafus
The situation above is a classic case of communication snafu (or else the owner is legit just a jerk to his customer). Identifying whether you have a professional and clear communication method is the first step to avoiding situations like this and ensuring your clients fully understand each step of what you say and do. Whenever you type out or say something to a client or potential client, try to preemptively strike down any questions that the individual may have.
For example, let’s say you are advertising a Free Custom-Designed Leather Bound Wedding Album with the purchase of your highest wedding collection between now and next Friday. What are some questions those reading will ask?
-How many pages are in the album?
-How many images can be included?
-Who picks the images?
-How long will it take to get the album?
-How many proofs do I get to see?
By providing all of this information up front, you will eliminate any potential communication issues that occur.
Another example of a communication snafu is one that you may not realize even happens. It is the failure to let the client know the next step of the process. You should never, ever leave your clients having to play five-hundred questions with you (similar to the example above) about simple things such as what to wear, where to meet, how long until they receive a gallery etc. This is especially true in the booking process before they even become a “client”. It is recommended you operate with the sandwich method:
Bread = Pleasantries
Meat = Answering their questions and the main reason for the communication
Bread = Inform of the next step in the process with an action item for the client to take
Eliminating any communication snafus will help to keep the business and client relationship positive.
#2 – Lack of confidence
The next characteristic of a lousy business owner is one that many of us don’t realize can hold us back. Confidence is such a driving force that without it we will be either standing still at the start line, going extremely slow, or even (heaven-forbid) going backwards.
I have often seen that a lack of confidence is not the result of an internal issue, but rather a lack of external supports in one’s business. Supports include appropriate management of money, understanding how to work with a client’s psychology to secure purchases at a certain pricing level, and commitment to long-term planning and vision, to name a few.
Take for example, Betty. Betty is a photographer who was coasting along for a few years in her business. Every month she held her breath hoping for inquiries, and did what she could to get the ones who did email her, to book her. Betty became burned out and run down. She ended up with next to no confidence and was about to pack it in. We worked together and were able to identify the supports needed to shore up her business and give her the confidence to assert herself as a business owner. Establishing a clear business plan, purposeful vision, and grasp of business workings catapulted her into a confident attitude. How did this attitude impact her? She became more assertive and purposeful in her actions, which has led to consistent bookings, far-outreaching her business goals.
Confidence is key in business. Don’t let it escape you.
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#3 – Arrogance
Many times as business owners we have this controlling type-A personality and believe that since everything has been “fine” with our certain way of doing things, there’s nothing that needs fixed. This is all well and good until something comes to a head with a client or business partnership and the lousy characteristic comes out: arrogance. The characteristic that puts blinders on you and doesn’t allow you to accept either your wrongdoings, or that your actions aren’t the optimal choice for your business and clients.
Strong business owners can have lousy moments. That is okay. We are human. (Just don’t be a jerk!)
But you don’t have to BE lousy in these moments. I want to help you not be lousy (that’s mighty non-lousy of me, huh?). I want to help you truly identify if you have any of these characteristics and make a conscious effort to avoid them!
BizRevamp – the online webcourse for photographers – can help you avoid these lousy characteristics and is OPEN for limited enrollment here. In BizRevamp, you will learn how to nix these characteristics with lessons on formation, taxes, pricing, client management and more!