Another column about New Year's resolutions? Nope—a column about the one thing you should consider doing next year to help grow your business.
You can make tiny resolutions about the tiny stuff in your business, or you can make one big resolution that’s built to last. I’m into efficiency, so I’m going for one:
This year, I will treat my business with respect.
You commit to doing certain things and adopting behaviors because in the long run, they may make your business better—and they all fall under the umbrella of respect for your business. And right now, there are three areas of your business craving the respect they deserve.
Your Financial Act
Are you treating your business bank account like your personal piggy bank? Does inventory control have you weeping in a fetal position in the corner of your warehouse/basement?
Knowing where your money goes and where it’s coming from—that’s a key foundation for most successful businesses. Without that knowledge, that spiffy website you built, that cool coffee shop you created and that bad-to-the-bone blog you wrote may disappoint.
Your Brand Act
Have you sat down recently with your team and asked them who they think your audience is? Does your website clearly state how you alleviate your audience's pain points?
If your brand is looking a bit more confused than you'd like, consider putting this act at the top of your list for the New Year. Here’s the benefit: When you know who you are, why you’re different and why people should care, it’s a lot easier for people to connect what you have with what they need. And that is where customer magic happens.
Your Audience Act
Who’s in your world? Are your Facebook page and blog comments overrun by people and words and language that’s just not OK with you? Are the members of your community contributing to the conversation, or are they starting fights?
It's up to you to oversee how your customers and fans conduct themselves while they're under your brand roof. If your audience is more kerfuffle than kapow-I-love-ya, it may be time to rein them in and establish some basic expectations for human behavior.
A comment policy is rarely a bad idea. This can go at the end of every blog post above the comments section, stating what is and is not acceptable behavior for your site visitors. It’s your home—don’t let someone waltz in and do their business in the middle of your business. Comment moderation isn’t a bad idea, either. When folks decide to comment on your blog, you can put in profanity filters and other filters that trap comments that include links or curse words from appearing automatically.
You can’t arbitrarily apply standards if you’re going to go to the trouble of having them. My blog and Facebook audience know that disagreements are welcome, as long as they’re done respectfully. But when you see bad behavior, you may want to kindly call it out. Explain the sticking point, and ask for something different in the future. If it keeps happening, you should consider putting the hammer down and giving the troublemakers the heave-ho. This is your house, so keep it nice for the community.
So what act will you clean up this year? Your business craves respect, and frankly, you probably do a dang fine job of getting done what needs getting done all year long. But none of us is above a bit of improvement, especially when it comes to giving our businesses the respect they deserve.
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This article was originally published on December 30, 2014.