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Inspiration: The Business Plan by Stanford Business

Jim Ellis talks about the elements of a successful business plan as well as common mistakes related to its development and use.

What you Need to Know About a Business Partner

What you Need to Know About a Business PartnerTons of businesses are started with business partners and a lot of entrepreneurs swear by the business partner relationships. Before you sign up for a business partner matchmaker, however, here are some things you should know.

1. Ask yourself the right questions.

Can you work with someone? Not just can you work with them specifically, but are you the kind of person that can work with a partner. If you play things close the vest, you might have a hard time working with a partner. If you’re an introvert, maybe you want to sacrifice the comfort of working alone to finding someone more outgoing than you are to handle the networking and interactions.

More specifically, can you work with the individual in question? Starting a business is like getting married. It’s a big commitment, you’ll be spending most of your time with that person and your business. Make sure it’s someone who isn’t going to drive you crazy and complements your work style.

2. Define your goals

You need to find out if you share business goals with your partner. Do you have the same priorities? Do you want to have the same priorities? In some cases, you may take an approach that has you focusing on one aspect of the business and your partner focusing on another. If this is the case, you will have different priorities, but you still need to have the same end goal. Where do you see your business in five years? Where do you want to go from there?

Also, it’s a good reason to have a business plan.

3. Get to know them

Before you jump into the business bed with a partner, you should probably get to know them. Try to work on a few projects together. Again, think of it in terms of a marriage. Maybe you won’t agree on everything, but you should be compatible with each other and enjoy each other’s company. Get to know your styles of business and whether or not you work together.

4. Write it up.

What’s your partnership agreement? Don’t forget the step where you lay everything out with your business partner. Think of it as a pre-nup. If you ever do decide to go your separate ways, you’ll know who gets to keep the dog. Remember, a business partner is not the same as an employee. You’re in it together from the start.

Finding the perfect business partner might be the easiest thing you do for your business. It might also be the hardest. Keep these things in mind while your considering.

Do you have a business partner? How did you find her/him? What have been some of the advantages of tackling a business with a partner? Share in the comments below.

 

The Customer is Wrong

Our society functions under the mantra: the customer is always right. This is a notion that has been fed to us since we entered the work force. No matter what, make sure the customer leaves happy.

Small businesses and startups rely heavily on word of mouth to find loyal customers and advocates for their businesses. Your customer can be your greatest ally. If you can give them a great customer service experience, you have a fan for life. At this point, you know how to treat customers. Be kind and courteous. Address their issues in a timely fashion. Make sure you listen to their concerns and discuss things with them to make sure you both understand each other.

So, what happens if you can’t make a customer happy?The Customer is Wrong

There are people out there who want to test how far that can go without holding up their end of the deal of being a customer. While you should never assume someone’s trying to scam you, some customers might be testing the waters.

In this case, you want to work closely with your employees and customer service staff. Don’t automatically assume they did something wrong. Customers can abuse products and policies, demand unreasonable resolutions, or verbally abuse your staff. When you step in, make sure the customer knows the buck stops with you.

Don’t belittle your team or employees. Trust that they did all that they could to give the customer what they asked for.

When things start to get hairy, you should start collecting the records of your interactions. If you have a paper trail of evidence that shows this customer has made a habit of being a bad customer, everyone on staff can be appraised of the situation. In the future, don’t work with this customer.

While you might lose one business opportunity, you will show your support for your team.

If you want to learn more about dealing with no-pay customers, check out Business Beware.

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