I am sure we all have stories to tell around customer service that we have received or at least observed and perhaps these stories are not always about great experience either.
I have also attended client meetings in a corporate setting, where one of my colleagues spent most of their attention during the meeting checking their emails! Unfortunately I was not sitting close enough to kick him under the table, but I think in that particular scenario, it was just that my colleague had been around this client for too long and there was too much familiarity and as a result he had forgotten his role. He had become stale, lost his mojo as Austin Powers would say.
Of course though, there are businesses that really get this right and their approach is very professional. When I come across this I am always intrigued to find out whether it is the individual, or part of the culture of the business when there are several people working there. It is always great to discover its part of the organisation’s culture and DNA – it has become embedded – its how they do things.
You see when businesses perform in these optimal states, it is more likely that the behind the scenes, mirror what we all see publically as customers and clients or investors.
There are goals, targets, clear roles and responsibilities, systems and processes that provide the necessary support. However even when all this is present, there is still something else very important that needs to be in place. When businesses just starting off, small or even large have this, then they are much better positioned both in the short and longer term.
When businesses do not take this specific approach, well they are not looked at as favourably by their clients, or supporting organisations such as their suppliers, banks or the Shark Tank and typically there is inconsistency in their performance and subsequent uncertainty around their future.
This potential missing ingredient is what I refer to as being “commercial”. Of course when you are starting out, you do not necessarily need to appoint formal boards or committees, but you do need to step up and put in place sufficient rigour that controls your finances, manages your legal responsibilities and minimises your risks.
In future posts I will expand on how to develop your business acumen or commercial repertoire. For now though ask yourself these questions…
- Do I have full visibility of my finances? Do I know my position on a daily basis?
- Have I got a hand on all my legal obligations? Am I protected individually and is my intellectual property protected?
- Do I understand what risk mitigation is? Do I know all the risks that could occur in my business and have I put in place contingencies where appropriate?
- Finally, if I was to invest in this business as a sleeping partner, would I do it, or are there better ways I can get a return on my capital? (ouch)
If you are having difficulty answering these questions, then there are things you need to do and this may include research and education (many government departments provide a lot of great information), joining your relevant industry association or company directors organisation, drawing up a list of action items you need to work through, or even engage a business coach or seek a mentor. Any of these steps will certainly contribute to you becoming more commercial and in the longer term developing your own sense of business acumen or savviness!
Then and only then you may be ready for Shark Tank!