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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
The Sun

Dittmar: More advice from business gurus


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Sometimes I write a column that gets folks talking, and my last one on potential business mistakes did just that. Some of you wrote “Great advice!” and “I wish someone had told me that a year ago.” So I decided to continue on with other tidbits from real business gurus. Here are some more mistakes to avoid.

Who would have thought three years ago that free-standing GPS units would be obsolete? Now we all have one on our smart phones, making that dashboard box unnecessary. You know what else is going the way of the dinosaur? The landline at home. Who needs that extra expense?

The market changes quickly in every industry, making it important to keep an eye on new technology or customer preferences. We can’t make the mistake of doing things the way they’ve always been done.

We need to understand our customers.

Face it, they pay the bills. We need to take the time to learn how they use our products and services, so we’re giving them what they want. Too often we make the mistake of designing our products based on what we think they want. And just as soon as we think we’ve got it all figured out, what they want changes. It’s a constant process.

Do we think our best customers are our target market? What about our own employees? They’re our hands and feet and are usually the first contact customers have with our business. It’s a mistake to hire them and just turn them loose. They need to be mentored and supported with constant encouragement and the right tools to help them do the job right. Happy employees pass their enthusiasm on to the customers, making their experiences better.

Almost every company I know of struggles with communication issues. Good companies create a clear communication path so information is shared with both employees and customers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone knows what you think they know. Talk to everyone! Dash off that newsletter. Hold weekly meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page.

It’s true, no one’s perfect. Even the gorgeous lady who lives two streets over with the perfect house, smart children and movie star husband. Nope, she’s not perfect either. We all have something we need to work on. We can all improve our products, our services, our delivery, our processes. It’s a mistake to think we’re the best we can be.

And finally real business gurus tell us it’s a mistake not to celebrate our milestones and success stories. We get beaten down a lot in business and the daily grind, well, grinds. We need to take the time to stop and acknowledge how far we’ve come and remind ourselves why we’re in business in the first place. We don’t have to wait until the end of the year to celebrate. Let’s resurrect that summer company picnic. Let’s hold those pizza parties when we hit a new goal.

The more we can avoid some of these classic mistakes, the better, the happier and more profitable we’ll all be.

Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at (813) 634-5111.

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