I am in the real estate business, but have been an entrepreneur since I was much younger and have built businesses across many different industries. I have been in the grocery industry, the wholesaling industry and the real estate industry each as a small business owner. So when I write the title to this particular article, I may be in the real estate business, but the topic relates to every small business owner out there – regardless of industry.
If you own a small business, you do not have the time to deal with having enemies.
What Are Your Most Precious Resources?
I have given a number of talks around the country on many different topics over the last few years, but there is one particular talk that always creates a lot of feedback from the audience. And for some reason, there is one particular part of the talk that gets the most comments and questions. The talk is all about marketing your business, and toward the end I tackle marketing distractions. One of the biggest distractions I cover is why you don’t want enemies in your business.
Usually the audience is able to pinpoint a few reasons why they think you should not create enemies in business and the biggest one is because of what they say about you. I’ll get to the answer on that in one minute, but that is not why you don’t want enemies when you are a small business owner. At my talks, I let the audience give their reasons and then I clear it up for them in one simple answer.
You do not want enemies in business because they distract us from what is most important. When they distract us, they suck away our most precious resources; our time and our story.
When I reference enemies I use that word because it is powerful. In my marketing presentation, I use it as a metaphor for all the things that come along with being a small business owner. In the real estate industry, most of us face many different enemies. Sometimes we are faced with competitors, new start-ups, disgruntled past partners or employees or even clients. I also make an assumption during the talk and I make it again right now — most of us have no intention of purposely creating an enemy to our business. Unfortunately, it just happens.
Those enemies can then act in many different ways. They may spend their time talking about you to their colleagues. They may spend their time talking about you or your company to other industry peers. They may spend their time talking about you to their clients or even your clients. They may spend their time writing articles or blogs that are about you or your company. The fact is, that an enemy to you or your business can come in many different forms, and they can act in many different ways. And often they will speak in opinions hoping to shield themselves from any culpability. In my presentation, I caution that this is one of the greatest threats to our businesses growth and success. And again, the threat does not come from what they are saying.
The biggest threat to our businesses is how we respond.
I said earlier that an enemy to our businesses is a threat to us because they consume our resources of time and story. As small business owners, and each of us is a marketer of our business, our job is to tell others our story. It our responsibility to separate what is most important about our companies from all the distracting noise and communicate that to our clients and our prospective clients. Most business owners are fiercely proud of their companies and when someone becomes your enemy by communicating negatively about you, our first inclination is to fight. But fighting is often where we get thrown off message.
I learned early in life that the more time I spend talking about someone else, then naturally I am spending less time talking about me. The more time I spend fighting baseless comments or negative attacks, the less time I spend communicating the positive message I want to communicate about my company. This is where an enemy of our business gets us distracted and where they do the most harm. The words someone says about us may be bad, but our reaction is what hurts our business.
I want everyone to realize that I am speaking of course about an enemy who is trying to hurt you, but what they are saying is false or twisted to reflect poorly on you. I think I have spent enough time in my articles discussing the proper way to conduct your business that if you are still doing things wrong and someone else points them out, you are not dealing with an enemy to your business. You have operated your business poorly. There is a difference. And that is where your reaction really matters.
The Golden Rule of Business
I’m not really sure if there is a true “Golden Rule of Business,” but I have always lived and operated by one since I first became an entrepreneur. For me the rule is simple.
Conduct Your Business In Such a Way, That If Someone Were To Speak Negatively Of You, No One Will Believe The Words They Say!
As a business owner, this is why I do not worry about someone deciding to be an enemy and is why you should not worry about someone becoming an enemy of yours. There really is not a grey area in the real estate business. In most of the real estate niches that I am aware of, and almost certainly in every business I have ever been involved with, there is a definitive line between right and wrong. My family has always worked hard to operate our businesses on the right side of that line.
As the chief marketer in our company, I have worked hard to communicate the story that we want investors and the public in general to hear. The story of the good we are doing in the community by renovating houses, providing a service to investors and tenants, and providing an opportunity for small businesses who rely on our company to grow and to thrive. Those are stories worth telling. We work very hard to create not only transparency, but also a very close and open relationship with our clients. We work hard to create a solution for each of our investors that works for their needs first, and our needs second. That is how you build a successful and thriving business. Those are the facts that we choose to focus on in our marketing messages.
When someone else, regardless of reason, decides they want to attack our business – and it happens on a weekly basis – I learned that the best response was to not get thrown off message. The time I would spend defending us or attacking them would be time I could not get back. The more of my message that focused on them or the way they were attacking, and not on us and the way we are helping others would be message I could not get back. The two resources that I could never recover happened to be the two resources I would be wasting. I have found that nearly 100% of the time, when someone is attacking me, they are wasting breath, keystrokes and ink, as no one is listening. They are falling into the trap themselves and spending more time talking about others instead of talking about themselves. Classic example of wasting their precious resources.
Now do not get me wrong, internally (personally and within the business) I might be fuming, but externally I have to remember what is most important to me and my family, our staff and our clients. Those are the same things you have to consider. You will have no control over when or why someone attacks you and it can come from the most random times and people. But you can control your reaction. If the attack does not hurt you, don’t let it. Spend your time moving you and your company forward and leave the negativity behind.
If you’ve operated your business with integrity, no one will believe them anyway!