The Key to Business Success

Setting expectations.

That’s it, you know. This very basic, and yet completely underutilized activity is THE key to business success.  Whether you are a one-person business crocheting scarves in your basement for your online customers, or a multi-national corporation, it’s exactly the same.

Here’s the inevitable metaphor: parking tickets. You’ve probably gotten a parking ticket, I know I have. When you get the ticket tucked helpfully under your windshield wiper, you are usually given a helpful week or two to pay the fine.

Angrily, you pull it out from under the windshield wiper and toss it in your glovebox as something that you’ll deal with later. But here’s the interesting point: the clock is ticking on your grace period and the most compelling point is that it NEVER gets easier!  The fine goes up and up as more time passes, and eventually you (depending on your state) could end up with a bench warrant for your arrest!

The point here is that dealing with crap like this early prevents the huge issues.

So back to the Key to Business Success: If you’re going to be late in delivering something to a customer or colleague, there is a moment before the actual deadline when you KNOW that you’re going to be late. That’s the moment to call.  Not within 60 minutes of the actual deadline, not sometime after the deadline has passed and LORD please, not after the customer calls YOU to tell you that you’re late.

 I know and you know that there are those magical times when a million things could go wrong, but none of them do and you come out of a potentially scary situation looking golden.  But then there are the other 98% of situations that are decidedly non-magical where one or two or a thousand things do go wrong and suddenly you look silly because there you were actually banking on LUCK. This is the one that drives me craziest. If you know, form your experience in the world, that what you deliver to your customer is not going to be what they expect (in time, or in quality, or in some other way), TELL them.

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