Here are 7 insights I have distilled based upon my experiences over the years. Perhaps they can serve as a helpful reminder to those of us seeking to sharpen our approach in the coming year.
Do what we promise, completely and on time. Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, rather than this being the rule, I regularly experience folks who miss deadlines for a host of reasons (both real and manufactured)....and as, or even more importantly, they don't communicate these misses to their partners/customers. Truly maddening. Take a position. Be decisive: "Sitting on the fence is a good way to get yourself shot" Richard Blanch.
It's ok to say "no". Lots of business people seem to be uncomfortable when it comes to declining a would-be business partner's offer. Rather than say "no" outright, they will put the other off, give (real or manufactured) excuses to delay a decision or otherwise hope that the partner will grow weary and go away without having to deliver to them the bad news. While this approach may seem kinder than being direct, it is actually a monumental waste of everyone's time. It's okay to say "no"...really...it is.
Make things happen. As someone who annually interacts with hundreds of corporate suppliers, clients, entrepreneurs and peers, I can quickly discern the doers from the talkers. I seek out the former and ignore the latter. Time is too precious to waste on folks who lack drive.
Finish strong. I have seen many great ideas squandered by flawed execution. Sure, idea generating is more fun than grinding out the finished product. But because we can't take ideas to the bank and because our reputations are built based upon the substance and quality of what we deliver to our customers, we must finish what we start...and we should always strive to do it with excellence.
Put business agreements in writing. A gentleman's agreement is fine when one is dealing with a gentleman. Unfortunately, people can get goofy when money is involved, particularly small business owners and entrepreneurs. When one has limited financial resources there is a very understandable need to be very careful about spending. Well crafted written agreements help partners to keep their word.
Be a "giver". My friend and colleague John Ruhlin likes to categorize people as either "givers" or "takers". It's easy to correctly guess which type makes more of a positive and lasting impression on others.
I hope 2014 was a great year for each of you. Let's each commit to make 2015 even better!