Great Ideas for your Small Business: Tell the Truth—It’s Critical
this idea may seem obvious, but telling the truth is critical to business success. Being truthful helps hone your vision for the company. While you may be tempted to hype sales figures or inflate projections to make yourself feel better, don’t. These little untruths will come back to bite you.
Convincing yourself that things are great, or even OK, when they are really terrible creates serious trouble sooner or later. Successful business people admit they need help. They are willing to acknowledge mistakes and change direction, no matter how embarrassed or upset they may feel. They base their decisions on fact, not fiction, and take responsibility for their actions.
Telling the truth to your employees shows you care enough about them to share the good and the bad news. In most cases, keeping bad news secret backfires. Smart employees will eventually pick up on negative information and feel betrayed by your silence. If you are facing a cash- flow crunch or major crisis, rally the troops around you, ask for their help, and work together to turn things around.
Being honest with customers and suppliers is critical to forming strong relationships. If you make a mistake, quickly admit it and find out what it will take to remedy the situation. Making excuses, pointing fingers, and shifting blame will get you absolutely nowhere. Customers appreciate dealing with a company that admits it’s not perfect but works hard to untangle problems.
Deal in an open and clear manner with all your vendors and suppliers. If your sales are slowing, and you know you won’t be ordering as many cardboard boxes, yards of cloth, or other regular supplies, give your suppliers a heads-up.
They will appreciate your candor and, in many cases, stick by you if you are going into a temporary slide. If your business is seasonal, make sure they understand the fluctuations so they can serve you better. Telling the truth in negotiation also has a powerful effect.
This goes against most negotiating strategies, but I’ve found in my dealings with blue-chip corporations that being truthful works. If I want the deal to close, I tell my lawyer or agent to work out the details as quickly and as amicably as possible. We begin from a positive position and sort out the details. We are very clear about our expectations and how we like to do business. I know people appreciate our straightforward approach.
Down the line, if something doesn’t feel right, I try to get out of it as smoothly and as ethically as possible. Sometimes the chemistry isn’t right, or you realize you’ve made a mistake by taking on a certain aspect of the project. Maybe you simply don’t like dealing with the people you have to deal with.
So tell the truth and move along. People will respect you, and new opportunities will surely replace the ones you leave behind.