Some days, I wonder about people. I wonder if we’ve forgotten all method and manner of decorum—if we’ve lost all means to effectively communicate with one other. I wonder if we know how to conduct ourselves as business men and women, as friends, and even as human beings—or if we’ve all taken leave of our senses.
Some days, I wonder more than others—to the point of fearing for the future of civilization. And before you accuse me of melodramatics, hear me out.
As an authorpreneur, I sometimes require the service of others for things like printing, graphic design and accounting. You know—things that make my eyes glaze over.
And while I may be a small fish in the big pond—I’m not printing 1,000 shirts at a time, for example—one never knows what the future holds. That small job today could be the big job tomorrow—and even if I’m never placing million dollar orders, at least the work is consistent. Not to mention you’d get a hand-signed card at Christmastime—maybe some homemade granola or bourbon-spiked egg nog, too. (I thought that might get your attention).
Yet for the past year, I can count no less than half a dozen businesses—small local businesses like my own—that haven’t bothered to respond to various requests for service. Keep it up and shop local will get a bad reputation.
Anyway, in an effort to get the bee out of my bonnet, I decided it’s time to issue a quick primer on doing business in 2018—to establish a few guidelines for improving the general state of affairs in money-making ventures and everyday relationships.
1. Answer emails within a day of receipt when at all possible. If someone has approached you with something you don’t have the answer for, that’s fine too. Tell them as much. “I’ll get back to you asap” is an acceptable response. If you’ll be out of pocket for more than a day—maybe you’re vacationing in an Italian villa—use an autoresponder to say so.
2. Answer texts within a few hours. Because we all know you saw the text. Well, unless you’re my parents. The world could be on fire and odds are excellent that they won’t be reachable by cellphone. If you aren’t my parents, though, send a thumbs up or send a thumbs down. Send a “please hold”. Just send something. If you can’t muster that, do us all a favor and disengage from the world of texting.
3. Strike the word ‘busy’ from your list of excuses. Busy is never a valid excuse. Unless of course you’ve been saving puppies from a burning building. In that case, you’ve been busy. And you should probably get back at it. I’ll hold your phone.
4. If you aren’t interested in doing something, just say so. Whether it’s a request to volunteer your time, appear on a expert panel, or print 10,000 shirts. If you can’t do it or don’t want to do it, no is still a respectable response and it trumps silence every time it’s tried. Just try to say so as nicely as possible.
5. As one of my mentors is fond of saying, people do business with people they know, like and trust. If you aren’t likable, approachable, or trustworthy—and if you aren’t living up to the first three rules, the person who runs you out of business will be yourself.
There you have it. The short list of five rules that stands to save families, friends, and businesses throughout the world. OK, now I may be exaggerating. Regardless, these five practices are simply a matter of common courtesy, which is something we could use a lot more of these days.
Is that asking too much? Some days, I wonder.