Over the last two or three years, I have witnessed a trend that may result in the biggest percentage of small business failures in history, and it is all due to the new electronic age.
The Golden Rule, Do onto others as you would have others do on to you, is just as important in business as it is in life. Ask yourself, Am I A _Business Ostrich_? You know who I am talking about, the person who goes to a business mixer or referral group meetings, gives out and receives lots of cards. You e-mail and call that person a day or two later and BAM! No response...E-mails are not replied to. Voice mail is not returned. What happened? You call or e-mail a business that you believe absolutely needs what you have to offer, you get voice mail, no response. You know the e-mail went through, but no reply. You and the potential respondent have both lost an opportunity. You meet someone who tells you they have the perfect business contact for you. Your businesses will work so well together in a fusion-marketing program. You call a week later and get voice mail. You e-mail the contact and guess what...no reply. Welcome to the new and very scary world of the Business Ostrich. How will business get done if none of us is willing to take a little time to return e-mails and phone calls? The most unlikely contact can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us, if only we take the time to follow-up.
Shortsighted self-interest where any of us believes we are too busy or too important to return calls or reply to emails is the first step in assuring your business failure. When one person seeks to satisfy their own interests, they are setting in motion a cause and effect that eventually will destroy their business. Think about the consequences of being an Ostrich. If every business owner, manager and buyer feels they just don't have the time or incentive to return calls or respond to e-mails, who is left to do business with?
If you are an Ostrich, stop it! Here are the rules:
1 - If you really don't want someone's business card and will not respond to calls and e-mails, don't give them your card. Tell them that you do not believe the two of you can do business. Save them and you unnecessary time from your obviously very busy schedule.
2 - If you do exchange cards and you get a call or e-mail, take a moment to respond even if it is only to say you are not interested or you are too busy at this time to go further and will contact them at a later date.
3 - If there might be something that you may be interested in discussing at a later date, ask that they send you information and you will keep it on file.
4 - Why make an enemy of a fellow business warrior when you do not have to. You never know when that might come back and bite you on the ass! If you do not have time to return calls and e-mails during regular business hours, do it at night or early in the morning, but do it!
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from someone I met at a business mixer who is also a consultant. He asked me to come to a seminar his firm was giving on the following Saturday morning. His office is almost 20 miles away, and I am very conservative when it comes to using gas. I really didn't want to go, but we had exchanged cards and conversation and I felt obliged to attend. Am I glad I did...His firm introduced me to a new small business funding program that was perfect for several of my clients, and I now have the program in my permanent offerings. To date, I have made several thousands of dollars in fees and helped my people at the same time. That was a win, win situation that would not have happened if I was a _Business Ostrich_!
Business gets done when people communicate. Business stagnates when people become Ostriches. Are you hiding your head in the sand?