by Tracy Vides
Life often teaches us profound things in the most unexpected ways imaginable. A plane crashing into a building teaches us to tighten security at airports. The worst stock market crash of all time teaches us to think twice before taking a loan. A government whistleblower makes software companies tighten their security policies.
While most of us aren’t faced with such dramatic situations on an everyday basis, there are a number of life lessons that we’ve imbibed over the years through events, big and small. So can we apply some of these life lessons to our work? Of course! What’s the point of learning a lesson if it’s not applied productively, right?
Here’s a list of my favorite life lessons and how they translate in an online business setup.
1. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
This is probably one of the first few things we learn as children. Be nice to others and they’ll be nice back to you.
Apply this philosophy in dealing with your customers. Be nice to them, try to genuinely help them out and fix their problems for them and you’ll be amazed to see how they turn into unpaid brand ambassadors for you. Avoid the temptation to cut corners with customer service or pass off sub-standard products and services on to them. That’s a surefire way of inviting the wrath of your customers who’ll be nasty back to you and ruin your reputation through word of mouth, social media and the like.
Relevant Functional Area: Product Design & Quality Control, Customer Service
2. Look before you leap.
This old adage reminds you of the need to be self-aware and equally in tune with your surroundings. Assess your present position and the potential ramifications of your actions before you take any step. Always be measuring the effectiveness of any promotions or campaigns that you embark on.
In an online business, this job is made really easy for you by the numerous freely available analytics packages that you can pick from. Tools like KISSmetrics or Clicky tell you how much traffic your site gets, how much of this it converts, exactly what your customers are up to, which elements on your site are working well, which pages contribute to maximum drop-offs, and more. When you build new pages, use landing page creators and split testing tools such as GetResponse to build the perfect site that works for your business.
Apply this data to make informed decisions about your website design, marketing tactics, and overall business strategy. The days of doing business by your gut feelings are long gone.
Relevant Functional Area: Analytics, Marketing, Business Strategy
3. Power comes from sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.
We’ve all heard the saying that ‘information is power’. Many of us, in an attempt to gain power over others, tend to withhold information from them. We believe that it’ll give us an upper hand in the relationship.
We couldn’t be more wrong. In this day and age, information is freely available. By holding back information from others you’ll only earn their distrust, not an upper hand.
In business, as in life, share your knowledge freely. Create manuals, how-to guides, and instructional videos – use whichever tool you think is best suited to disseminate your knowledge among your users. This will build your reputation as an expert and will grow your brand reputation manifold among your users as well as your competitors. Without you needing to ever create an advertisement for your brand, the knowledge you share will speak for itself and build your brand for you.
Relevant Functional Area: Content Marketing
4. Try and try until you succeed.
There’s a certain level of determination that goes into achieving success. Hard work and a never say die attitude are the two sides of this coin.
Apply yourself 100% to promoting your business. No one said it will be easy, but no one said it would be impossible either. Identify potential leads and follow up with them regularly. Be in touch with them consistently, even when you are not selling them something. Blossom your leads into clients by being a friend and offering them any type of assistance or information that they may need to make them convert. Be persistent and your hard work will eventually pay off.
Relevant Functional Area: Business Development
5. Every cloud has a silver lining.
This life lesson reminds us that there’s always a ray of hope even in the darkest of times. Now that is something all business owners would do well to remember. But in this digital age, this saying can also be taken literally, at its face value.
To change the metaphor itself, every ‘cloud’ does have its silver lining in today’s cloud-focused era. Turn to the cloud for managing your business applications more efficiently and remotely from any location. This is extremely important for cash-strapped startups that need to save money wherever possible.
The cloud also enables collaboration, easy access, and quicker, more transparent transactions in today’s always-connected global workplace. Smart cloud-based tools bring together disparate functions like inventory management, sales reports, CRM, project management, and others neatly under a single app. Now that is convenient.
Relevant Functional Area: Sales, IT, Project Management
6. Charity begins at home.
This does not really refer to charity in the monetary sense. (Didn’t we all wish for that as kids?) It’s about being kind and generous to your family and loved ones and this behavior will automatically spill over into our interactions with outsiders as well.
Apply this very simple, yet extremely powerful mantra while working with your employees. Treat them right, and be generous with praise or monetary appreciation for a job well done. Make your employees feel like they are one big family, to reduce friction between team members, encourage cooperation and improve productivity. A motivated employee who enjoys working at his workplace will spread the good cheer to customers and business partners, thus improving customer and partner relationships on behalf of your organization.
Relevant Functional Area: HR
We have a choice. We can approach business as a cut-and-dry set of decisions and activities that we engage in, for 40 to 50 hours a week at our workplaces, and forget about it once we step out of our offices. Or, we can derive real joy from our work by applying the philosophies that make us happy in our personal lives, to the things that we do in our work lives.
One approach gives us 40 hours of drudgery per week. The other gives us 168 hours of joyful living each week.
As I said before, the choice is in our hands.
Tracy Vides is a content marketer and social media consultant who works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene compared to her illustrious She Owns It counterparts, Tracy has started off well by building a good online reputation for herself. She’s now a “serial blogger” with posts featured on Sprout Content, Steamfeed, Soshable and elsewhere.
Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat any time!