Keep Your Promises and Other Must-Read Business Tips
A look at how to be a better leader, communicate with potential clients, keep your customers happy and more advice for business owners.
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A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
Entrepreneurs are known for making grand statements and inspiring other people with their visions of what is possible. But it's one thing to be a visionary and another to be someone who makes empty promises. "Poor leaders motivate those following them with false promises of promotions, success and a great tomorrow, but rarely deliver on those promises," says marketing and business-development expert Lewis Howes.
If you catch yourself doing this, and especially if it's a habit, you need to reassess your leadership tactics. A manipulative leader will dangle the goals and aspirations of his employees like a carrot to get them to do what he wants. But eventually employees will get fed up and most likely find somewhere else to work. Even if you don't intend to be manipulative, says Howes, "if you commit to something but don't follow through, it can send the wrong message to your employees, who you are pushing to deliver the best results." More: Signs You Might Be a Terrible Leader (Yes, You)
Make your message as simple and efficient as possible.
Getting a potential customer or client to take action isn't easy, but it's easier if you communicate as efficiently as possible. "Don't presume the audience has any interest in what your message is," says Tom Haley, a creative director at Chicago-based Jellyvision Lab, a company that provides personalized multimedia content for its clients. While you may eat, sleep and breathe your business, your customers don't. Give them what they need to make their decision -- nothing less, nothing more. More: 5 Simple Ways to Get Your Customers to Listen to You
Think about the space your employees are in.
One element of keeping employees is providing an environment in which they will enjoy working. Peace, Love & Little Donuts, located in Pittsburgh, sets itself apart from other doughnut shops partly with its unusual flavors, such as maple-and-bacon, and partly by providing such an environment for its staff. The psychedelic décor and 1970s music fit with the shop's "Feed Your Inner Hippie" slogan and provide a fun atmosphere that its workers, many of whom are young college students, won't mind spending a shift in. More: Why Happy Employees Are Your Key to Successful Branding
Debrief yourself every Thursday.
It's all too easy to let your time dribble away in emails, small talk and other distractions rather than being productive. To stay on track, sit down and give yourself a debrief every week, preferably on Thursday. That means assessing how you have spent your time and how you have improved (or slackened) your focus and productivity over the past week. "Doing this kind of debrief on Thursday, instead of Friday gives you a sense of achievement from reviewing that week's work, which provides extra energy to carry on before the weekend," says Jason Womack, the founder of The Womack Company, an Ojai, Calif.-based productivity-training firm. "This also gives you time to organize anything that needs to be done before you leave the office for the weekend." More: What You Can Do Today to Make Tomorrow More Productive
Make disciplinary conversations objective, not subjective.
When one of your employees is behaving unprofessionally -- perhaps making inappropriate jokes or dressing in a way that isn't suitable for the workplace -- it's obvious that you need to sit the employee down for a serious talk. But it's important not to rely on vague words, like "professionalism," that can be interpreted subjectively. Refer instead to your company guidelines. That will make the substance of the conversation objective rather than subjective, says Susan Strayer LaMotte, founder of exaqueo, a workplace consulting firm. If you don't already have clear company guidelines for workplace attire and behavior, now is the time to create some, so that your employees will know what is expected. More: Difficult Conversations: What Not to Say