BUILDING: Business Crimes And Repeat Offenders
Why there is no excuse for these mistakes in modern-day business + 1LD update (AND DISCOUNT)
It’s another day, another addition of the Frolics
I’m, as always, Ellen “Jelly” McRae, the writer/solopreneur/content creator/whatever you want to call me, with the goods.
By trade, I write ‘💜 1 Lovelock Drive 💜’ and romanceship articles using my experiences.
To my faithful, welcome back. I’ve missed you!
If you’re new to my blogletter, I’m pretty happy you’re here. Stay a while, get to know me, and come with me as I stuff up life, make amazing and dumb-ass career decisions, and share my *cough cough* wisdom.
Let’s Bring You Up To Speed
There have been some things in my career I’ve been sure of. Being a writer, telling my story, has always been a non-negotiable.
How I was going to be a writer, how I would put out my written word into the world, well that hasn’t always been easy. Who can relate?
When I started writing 1 Lovelock Drive, a relationship column, at the start of this year, I knew it was the right writing. Like the moment I met my husband, I knew 1LD was the one. What I was going to write about allowed me to:
Tell the story I had trapped inside that I needed to tell before I die
Create a genre of writing I would want to read
Create a product I could grow, nurture and turn into something bigger than a singular novel
Pursue the idea I dream about and want to work on every day when I wake up
There is no doubt 1LD is the right literary move for me. But I’m not just writing. The creative component of this endeavour is one facet of bringing my writing to the reader. Marketing, social media, product development, idea progression, administration, customer service, and more.
I’ve been known to rush in the past. Rush into love (pre my husband, of course) and rush into business production. I have pushed too hard, too fast, and fell flat on my bottom.
1LD is special. I owe this idea the right thing; no rushing, doing everything with a steady and considered approach and learning from my mistakes.
I want to wine and dine this idea, so I’m taking it back to the start, and doing it right.
My version of doing it right
I have dedicated a separate section to this 1LD adventure here in the Frolics, called “Highway”. This is where I’m going to offer behind-the-scenes insights into how I grow my idea into a fully-fledged component of my business.
This is a paid component of the Frolics. But as you are my loyal, faithful family, and you’ve been with me for so long now, I want to make sure you get free access.
If you would like to follow the Highway journey for free, forever, simply follow this link for your access!
This offer ends on July 31st 2022, get in quick! (And I will remind you in upcoming Frolics so if you forget, don’t stress! I got you 👊
Oh, The Mistakes I’ve Seen
Whilst on the topic of doing things right in business, it’s not possible to know what’s right until you’ve seen what’s wrong. And let me be succinct; I’ve seen some horrible business in my time.
I have also worked for some terrible businesses.
Let me qualify the level of terrible. For example, three businesses closed a year after I quit. These were pre-pandemic too, way before you could blame your business failings on the worldwide shutdown.
(Whilst so many business have legitmately closed because of the pandemic, many have used it as an excuse to cover years of operations. A conveinient excuse to use, and one that will gain sympathy from others.)
I had worked for so many dismal businesses that I didn’t know what a good one was for most of my employment years.
What I’ve always found interesting is the commonality between these so-called professionals. All were very different businesses offering varied products and services.
Yet they were all identical repeat offenders of identical business crimes.
It was almost as if they were trying to fail, with intentional violations of basic business principles.
They alienated their staff.
Their customers were happy to see them go.
And, possibly worst of all, they completely missed the mark with their product offering.
As we’ve scarcely survived the pandemic, more than ever we need to better for our businesses. Not only to ensure they are ‘pandemic proof’ but to ensure we survive anything ‘business’ throws at us.
Mistake #1: Allowing Extreme Staff Turnover
Notice I said, “allowing”?
When a staff member leaves a business, it is rarely because they hate the customers or even the work itself. They leave because the people they work for are awful.
‘Awful’ can mean many things in business. It can be:
The staff member is being abused, ignored, or bullied by the management.
The staff member is being underpaid, not paid what they’re owed or undervalued financially by the business
The staff member is socially undervalued, or not being recognised for what they offer the business.
The staff member can’t advance or progress through the business.
One staff member leaving rarely rings alarm bells with most business owners.
Yet, a high turnover of staff, a high percentage per year, indicates the workplace isn’t a desirable one to work in.
Businesses should be measuring the amount of staff who leave.
Here is what to track:
The number of staff leaving V. the reasons they provide for their departure
There are two reasons why staff leave; it will fall into one of two categories. They are:
EMPLOYEE DRIVEN - Staff will leave because of something in their life completely irrelevant to the business. These could be things like:
The staff became terminally ill
They have to leave their career to become a carer
Essentially, it doesn’t matter what you offered them to stay, no amount would be enough because of this personal predicament.
EMPLOYER DRIVEN - Staff will leave because they no longer want to work at the business anymore. Though they won’t always say this, they will say:
They’ve been poached - doesn’t even have to be a rival company
Change of career or career direction
Found an irristable opportunity
Unwilling to say - that’s a big red flag it’s not them, it’s you
My tips on how to monitor staff turnover:
When someone leaves your business, you need to find out why. Ask them in an exit interview about why they are leaving the position (which may need some creative approaches because some staff won’t tell you honestly why).
Record their answer into one of two categories: EMPLOYEE DRIVEN or EMPLOYER DRIVEN.
Keep a tally of the number of employee-driven exits versus the employer-driven exists. Always understand why your staff choose to leave.
Also, add the volume of staff into your records. How many staff have left in each month, quarter, year. Always understand how many staff you’ve had.
The businesses I worked for never did this, nor did they consider themselves to be the problem. Every reason for why a staff member left would go into the employee-driven column.
Bad businesses often blame the staff they hire. That they attract unreliable staff, immature staff who don’t value the opportunity.
What bad businesses need to realise is that staff don’t leave good jobs.
Mistake #2: A Distorted Assumption About Customer Feedback
It alarms me when businesses disregard customer feedback. Yet, it happens more often than you think.
Even the businesses that actively seek feedback will ignore everything they collated. If what the customer is saying doesn’t align with their values or budget, they scrap the feedback.
Customers are often treated like the enemy at war. They:
Think the customer has a problem/issue and is taking it out on them
Think the customer is out for some sort of misguided revenge
Think the customer isn’t real ie. a bot has sent in the feedback
Thinks the customer is being unistifably negative (if it’s constructive feedback and needed)
They are people you need to lure in and trap. Once caught, the business tortures them with their offering in the hope the berating will force them to buy.
Many bad businesses consider customer feedback to be negative and unconstructive.
Customers are the backbone of your business. And without them, your business doesn’t exist. By ignoring their wants and needs, you end up alienating your customer. They stop buying from you, no matter how in-demand your product currently is.
In short, listen to your customer, or perish.
What you’re missing by not listening to customer feedback:
Opportunities to improve your offering - Feedback points out areas of your business that your customer wants, doesn’t want and needs more of. You have tangible evidence to pursue different ideas or ditch ones that aren’t working.
Opportunities to grow - Accepting and taking on feedback is all part of being a mature business owner. It helps you grow a thick skin and prepares you for far worse things that will happen in business.
New ways of thinking - The business world is constantly evolving. You can’t rely on what you’ve learned in the pages of a text book ten years ago. Your customer is ahead of you; learn from them.
Mistake #3: Setting and Forgetting
This is a very common trait of bad businesses, yet so many don’t realise they’re doing it. It’s the idea of ‘setting and forgetting’.
Setting and forgetting within a business is when they make a decision, or implement a process, and leave it. The business continues with their operation without reviewing the process.
It’s almost as if the business declares the process effective before knowing so. They:
Don’t evaluate efficiencies of the process
Don’t analyse improvement opportunities
Don’t overhaul the processes with the changing trends or technological advances
Assume the process works because the process exists.
What’s the risk of setting and forgetting in business?
Let’s look at technology as an example.
I used to work for a (defunct) shoe brand that used point of sale machines that were from the late nineties. They relayed the data to the head office using the phone line. This meant no one could be on the phone and process a sale at the same time.
This antiquated system posed many issues, including:
Reliable data measuring - If nothing is live, up to date, it’s hard to measure success.
Impossible returns process - The system did allow for returning products easily, or looking up past purchases, or even having a customer account.
They couldn’t offer modern retail gratitudes, such as loyalty systems - These were surging at the time, all the rage and this business couldn’t compete
They couldn’t even keep an accurate and up the minute stock system - When asked what another location had on hand, staff couldn’t look up stock.
What the business thought about this antiquated technology: the system could process sales, so that was good enough.
When asked why they won’t update the technology, this shoe business responded. “Why fix what isn’t broken?”
Whilst it wasn’t broken, it could have been significantly better for the customer. And for the staff.
As you can imagine, these challenges caused significant issues with the staff. Only more reasons for them to quit.
Breaking The Cardinal Business Promise
I’ve intentionally left this issue to last because it’s one of the biggest sins of bad businesses.
It’s almost cliche because there are so many who lament over this issue. Yet despite the noise, businesses continue to make promises they can’t keep.
Breaking promises to customers is unacceptable in our modern landscape.
Customers have so many options. There is rarely a business offering a unique product or service that customers can’t find somewhere else.
With these options comes wavering loyalty. It doesn’t take much to push a customer away.
A promise broken with a customer can vary so much, and that’s why bad businesses often don’t realise it’s happening. A promise is anything you ‘guarantee’ to happen. These can be:
Store opening times
Email response times
The minute you can’t meet that guarantee, customers lose faith in you.
Don’t forget your staff
Breaking promises to staff breeds distrust and fuels staff turnover. Your staff take your word with incredible seriousness. When you say that you’re going to pay them on a certain day of every week, fortnight or month, they live by that promise. They make plans by that promise.
When you don’t meet that basic expectation, they don’t trust anything you say you will do. Even if you deliver time and time again, the overpromising has done its damage.
Staff and customers aren’t alone. Suppliers, trades and stockists, as well as shareholders and alike stakeholders, suffer too.
Pick My Brain
I hate to say it, but I write about my experiences in business because I’ve worked in a lot of different businesses, and owned several myself. Writing, website design, freelancing, administration, retail, hospitality.
If you have any questions about the solopreneur or business life, drop them here! Anything you would to know, I will do my best to answer. 😎
You’ve freakin’ got this!
This journey isn’t the same without you. And I sure know you can’t find success without support, somewhere to vent, and people just like you. Join me here on The Frolics as we grow our careers together!
Ok, so this isn't enough for you?! Damn, I love your style! You can reach me and get more right here 👇