“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” — Sir Winston Churchill
I am a firm believer that while we must learn from the past, that past should not only consist of our own experiences but those of others as well… this is why each year I share some of the key lessons I’ve learned (or relearned) with you. So without further adieu here are my top 3 for 2010:
#1 – Beware The Runaway Barter
While barter can be a tremendous catalyst for both increasing business and affording the small business owner things they may have difficulty paying for otherwise, barter can also be a major detriment as well.
The 2 biggest potential downsides are:
- Excessive willingness to barter can devalue your products and your brand. This is critically important because it can quickly train your prospects and clients to not want to pay you with money… and cash flow is critically important to the health and success of a small business.
- Allowing the barter to become lopsided where one company consumes more than the other and thus creates a huge gap in the amount one company owes the other is very dangerous. Why? Because things happen! Businesses no matter how well their intentions, go out of business all the time. Try collecting on the barter owed you then.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that barter should at least be considered as an option for doing business, I’ve just learned the hard way to be smarter about it. A better practice that we learned from our CFO this past year was to set a threshold for how much barter credit to extend each client and to reconcile barters monthly whenever possible. Now that’s sage advice!
#2 – Embrace The Silence
We simply live in very noisy world. A world where the pace of life seems to be speeding up as well. It’s no wonder stress levels for many are through the roof. Facing those kinds of challenges, how can a small business owner productively get things done? Let alone come up with new and innovative ways to grow the business.
Well for me at least periodic quiet time has become critically important aspect of my game. This is the time when I step away from our computerized world and clear the brain. I meditate… I journal… I think… I do whatever it takes to get quiet so that I can focus long enough to enable my “A” game to shine through.
#3 – Commitment To Being Strategic
Every week without fail, we held a formal executive team meeting where we both reflected on what transpired the past week as well as planned out the future ones. In our planning we’d set goals and determine our strategies for achieving them. We’d talk through our open projects as well as properly reflect on recently completed ones in an effort to grow from our experiences. We’d hold ourselves accountable and course correct as a business as needed. Bottom line… our productivity and results both individually as well as as a team skyrocketed!
All in all 2010 was a solid year for us… one that I feel will become a critical stepping stone for much more future success!
So how did you fare in 2010? what lessons did you learn?
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