Small business owners need business etiquette
“...but you only need to know business etiquette if you’re the CEO of a large corporation!”
This statement was deposited into a conversation I was having with a very progressive business woman. It was deposited by her husband who was, in his words “a retired small business owner.”
Here we were, on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, relaxing after a long day of business deals and no deals, discussing how much business we thought small business people fail to get, simply because they did not have good manners.
What’s more, we were concerned that they actually believed that it was not necessary for them to understand and apply business etiquette because they were not top brass in “big business.”
And here was her husband providing tangible evidence of the very mindset we were cussing about!
I was just about to think that “idiots travel too!” when it occurred to me that that would not be good etiquette of any kind and so I killed the thought.
Good business etiquette is recognized and understood across business and borders in much the same way that “taxi” is understood in any country. Even when you can’t speak the language, displaying good business manners sends the message that you are “open to business.”
Even as you get my point, I know you’re asking: what really is business etiquette?
In his book “Business Etiquette” David Robinson describes it as “the commercial application of acceptable personal behaviour.” This is my favourite definition because it’s simple and can be easily understood by any person smart enough to start a business.
Implementing this definition means that all you have to do is to first find out (if you did not already know) what socially acceptable personal behaviour is and then apply a “commercial” version of this to your business.
The big question is why would you even want to do this? Why is it important and how can you even benefit from knowing and using business etiquette when doing business?
Well, right there at dinner, off the top of my head, I came up with 8 ways in which you and any other small business person can benefit from having good business etiquette and leveraging this skill to make money.
Here are 8 ways leveraging business etiquette can work for you.
1. Allow you to present yourself with polish and poise
When you display good manners when you’re doing business, it helps you to quickly earn the respect of your customers and suppliers and create goodwill for you and your business. It also signals to the world that here is a small business person who can be taken seriously.
2. Increase your self-confidence and self-esteem
As you become better at conducting business in a professional and ethical manner, you become known as a person worth doing business with. This increases your belief in your capacity to do business in an effective way, which in turn increases how you feel about yourself.
3. Help you easily do business across countries and cultures
Business etiquette is the commonly understood framework for business interactions. When you expand your business into other countries and by extension into other cultures, relying on commonly understood patterns of behaviour increases the speed at which you can connect with the market and its key players.
4. Improve the relationship between you and your customers
Think about it…an important part of good business is having good manners and treating people well. When you treat your customers decently and fairly, even those that are irate and rude, they will stay with you over the long haul.
5. Increase your earnings potential and competitive edge
People are most inclined to do business with people whom they know, like and trust. Good business manners increase the opportunity for potential customers to get to know like and trust you. And this goes straight to the bottom line.
6. Position you to attain power and influence
It is pretty well established that a small business community will look to find leaders from within itself. Financial success, though important, is seldom enough for you to become a person of power and influence. People want their ideal leaders to also be able to demonstrate that they have good interpersonal skills, know how to conduct themselves socially and know how to treat people well.
7. Win the support of those who can help you to achieve your goals
One of the great benefits of having good business etiquette skills is that people are generally comfortable with and around you. And equally, you with and around them. This helps to build trust and credibility fast – a platform from which to achieve your business and personal goals.
8. Lead to increase productivity in your workplace
In your workplace, your good business etiquette leads to good working relationships, especially when you make it a requirement for everyone to treat each other as you treat them. When there are good working relationships in a workplace, this reduces the amount of time and effort spent on “outing employee fires” and this leads to increased productivity.
For me, being tactful, being kind to people, being on time for appointments, doing something thoughtful for another person and generally applying a commercial version of personal acceptable behaviour have opened many doors for me. Doors that I believe would have remained closed if I had used any other approach.
So much of your success will depend on your good personal and business behaviour.
Here is another thought on that:
“Today, nothing else can bring the success until and unless you have good etiquette,” says Pria Warrick, President/Executive Director of Delhi-based Pria Warrick Finishing School.
Well, I hope I have convinced you to get rid of that mindset that believes good business etiquette is only for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Without it, I know you will make many unnecessary faux-pas in certain business situations which could severely damage your reputation.
On the other hand, knowing and applying business etiquette will prevent you from earning a reputation for being rude and gauche and can even help you to make more profits.
So now that you know what you should do, choose wisely and if there’s any way at all we can help, please do let us know…
To your superior business etiquette...