Turn on the television today and you see that corporations have deception, fraud and unscrupulous behavior in their business model. Class action lawsuits have become an expense related to the cost of doing business. Large companies have the lawyers and the public relations budget to deal with this in a way that may benefit them; even though they are shortchanging clients and customers.
Yes, unethical behavior is a common practice. But, what about you, the small business owner? How are you handling clients and customers? And, how trustworthy are you as a customer?
When you are a small business, all you have is your “WORD” and your “REPUTATION” All of the branding in the world won’t help you if your credibility is on the line. People work long and hard to build an image both personally and professionally, but it can be easily destroyed by making unprofessional choices in how they deal with people. If people feel as if they cannot trust you, they certainly will not do business with you. Relationships can take years to build, but a matter of seconds to destroy.
The mistake that people make all too often is they believe that they can actually get away with business practices that are less than professional and no one will ever know about it. Well, your clients, the people you hire or purchase from may not call you to the carpet, but they may just ease off of dealing with you. And once you burn someone, they may have no problem sharing your shortcomings with others.
A woman once hired me to speak for her organization. She promised to pay me when I arrived at the event. My husband and I drove for almost 2 hours, and hired a sitter so that I could accommodate her, only to get there, gave my speech and there was no check. She promised to send me a check, but she never did. In fact, she was very rude when I pursued her and even went as far as insulting me.
Nothing can make a relationship go sour more than when someone refuses to adhere to a financial obligation; especially when the person owed the money practiced in good faith. A few years later, a friend was about to engage in a similar situation with the woman. I felt obligated to warn my friend by sharing my encounter.
I believe that the woman in question, believed no one would ever hear of how she dealt with me. You never know what opportunities you will miss simply because you opt to deal in a less than favorable business manner. Some say, “It’s not personal…it’s just business” I believe that how you handle your business is who you are personally.
I never give people an opportunity to make a “repeat performance.” By that I mean, once I know that someone is trying to dup me or string me along…I vow not to do business with the person under any circumstance. Yes, I will treat them with respect, but I seldom forget and will make an effort to not do business with them.
If you have a business that is struggling and you have to make some major changes that may impact your relationship, be upfront with people. They will understand, especially if you have always dealt with them in good faith. It is not worth risking your personal or professional reputation by doing anything less than what you would expect from others.