There are many important things that are commonly overlooked by entrepreneurs. Some do not look like much to the outside observer. But that’s the point. They’re the little things – the easiest to implement – the most forgotten – and the ones with great impact. How many times have you heard the phrase “It’s always the little things”? That’s what this article is about and it’s about more than business.
To me, successful entrepreneurs are more than a laundry list of interesting attributes, business successes, and achievement. It’s the little things they do – and don’t do that make all the difference professionally and in life as well. Be a good human being and entrepreneur. Remember the golden rule – always – when nobody else is watching.
Here is a list of things, in no particular order, that I’ve found to be valuable when it comes to the little things.
All of the suggestions below will not sustain themselves unless they’re coming from the heart. Back up the moves below with good intentions and they’ll create so many positive things for you. Promise.
Meeting at a restaurant? Minimize interruptions by telling the wait staff you’ll flag them down if you need them.
Pre-pay the bill. Go to the bathroom and pay for the meal before you get back. You can also ask the wait staff not to bring the bill to the table. This will avoid the awkward “I’ll take the check…” “No let me…” debate at the end of the meal. End these conversations now and forever. If you are “on the fence” about paying for the meal… default to paying.
My uncle told me years ago to “Never let your drinks get half empty in a business meeting or you will be interrupted.” Constant interruptions for the filling of glasses are more harmful than you think. You may even want to let the wait staff know to not disturb you unless you wave them over. Thank them with a little extra tip after your meeting as they’ve worked with you to make it a success.
Send a personalized thank you after meetings – and make sure they are timely. It makes a good impression, and its good etiquette. If next steps have already been decided, place a small recap in the thank you. This is subtle, but really goes a long way.
Not sure what to write in your thank you note? The Lettrs app makes it easy to send personalized note – either by mail or email. Try the mail option to make a lasting impression – how often do people get mail that they actually want to receive?
Don’t save the celebrating for a big win. It may never come and you must enjoy the ride you are on now. Celebrate a “win” every few weeks. At least once a month make sure you are patting yourself on the back in some way, and “raising a glass” to your team for their hard work.
Invest in your online image – it should reflect the offline you. Your profile photo is what people associate with you and your business. It shouldn’t be a selfie – but it shouldn’t be a corporate photo either. Show that you’re human! Make sure you’re socially approachable.
Enlist the help of a professional designer unless you have the skills to design a professional business card yourself. Or you can try OverNightPrints.com. It lets you download a Photoshop template for your card, and then tweak it to fit your needs. I’ve designed all of my business cards this way and they have plenty of options.
Even though you don’t need a team today, know who you WILL need on the team. Your future state. Build relationships with those people today locally or virtually through oDesk and Elance. Maybe there’s something very tiny that you can work on now with them.
Get some time back for the little things. If you can, hire a virtual assistant to handle some of the tactical stuff. Try Task Rabbit or Zirtual to find the help you need or ask a friend for help.
Show gratitude to your advocates with a quarterly “Thank you for being my advocate! I appreciate you!” gift. Pick 3 people who have made a difference – like people who share your tweets or are active members of your team. You can use the Lettrs app for this as well – but keep your printed letters minimal since it’s not very green!
Use SendOutCards to send gifts and cards. So easy. It stores all your contacts, and even sends you reminders for special events. They print, stamp and mail everything for you. It’s a great way to keep top of mind with people you need to keep in touch with, but aren’t necessarily family or friends. Surprise them with unexpected gratitude, or send a birthday or holiday gift.
A random questionnaire filled out for every team member, with things like their hobbies, favorite food, most fun they ever had, can be fuel when you need to think up ideas to express your gratitude.
Use CardMunch if you aren’t already. I love this app – it’s the holy grail of business card apps. It easily turns business cards into contacts on your phone for you to save, send a follow-up email to, or connect with on Linkedin.
Before a networking event, spend 15 minutes researching the organization, some of the attendees, etc. Be sure it’s the right networking event for you. If there is a panel of speakers find the one you want to talk to and know the one question you need to ask them. Doing your research before an event is commendable and the person you want to speak with will appreciate you doing your homework and the flattery won’t hurt your mission either. Remember your time is valuable and know your goals before you leave the house.
Pick three goals before any networking event so you can stay focused. Why are you going? What do you hope to accomplish? Who would you like to meet?
Nothing will ever diminish the handshake and true eye contact. Really look people in the eye. This matters more than you think. My father drilled it into my head as a kid and it’s never steered me wrong.
Try out an improv class! I did, and I promise you, it works. You get to ditch the jitters and learn to think and act at the same time. Again this was another thing that helped me not care about looking silly, failing, and what other people think.
The little things matter and there are a few tricks to help you. I call them micro-isolations. Micro-isolations help you be much more present by cutting out all the noise and giving your mind a subtle reminder on seemingly insignificant things to stay focused on like eye contact. These simple things create enormous differences. Secondly, they help blast away nervousness and jitters in social scenes. I’m an introvert, believe it or not, and these things really helped me in the past.
Okay – your turn. What tips and changes have made a big difference for you? I love these things.
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