Everyone has bad habits. The key to overcoming them is to first recognize they exist, then become intentional about breaking them. That first part is actually the most difficult, especially in the context of running a small business.
When you have been doing something the same way for a long time, it is difficult to recognize that there could even be another way to do things. Once you do realize this, and that the way you are doing it may not be the best way, the intentional part becomes the last hurdle.
Being Too Nice
Being too nice is a business habit that can easily blend in with the great business habits of being a flexible employer and offering great customer service. Those things are great. However, if do not draw the line between flexibility and being overrun, or customer service and free service, then you have a problem.
Being flexible means you work with employees within the parameters of what is good for the business. Offering great customer service means you work with customers within the same parameters. Once the business suffers, you are being too nice.
Break this by offering flexibility within clear limits, and providing customer service the same way. Can employees switch shifts with other employees? Sure. Can they simply not show up for a shift and expect no repercussions? No.
May a customer exchange a product purchased recently? Of course. Maybe even without a receipt. Can they exchange for a higher cost product when the current product does not work, and only pay the difference. If there is no receipt, or the product was obviously damaged by them, no. Not without some sort of warranty contract.
Being Too Mean
The flip side of this is, of course, offering no flexibility and no customer service in fear of becoming too nice. Few employees can work effectively with no flexibility, and no customer will become a repeat customer if customer service is non-existent.
This sounds like the same thing as too mean, but it isn’t. This refers to all aspects of business ownership. Offering zero flexibility in receivables, inventory, and even operating hours can come back and bite you if you are not careful. Flexibility within reason is almost always a good thing.
Where is that reason? Where is the line where reasonably flexible becomes door mat? The line is drawn where the business begins to suffer. If money is consistently lost due to being flexible, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Order needs to be restored, and guidelines need to be revisited, re-established, and followed.
Bad habits do not have to mean bad business. Take stock of how you run things, evaluate your habits, and determine where changes need to be made. Then get busy making your business the best it can be.
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