Business practices that never go out of style
Timeshave changed since I started working with business owners in the early 1990s. While I’d have to say I’m pretty “with it” when it comes to staying on top of new trends, there are some new-age things that I just won’t accept. And neither should business owners.
I’m not the only one. Take a look at this short Anchor Advisors video:
Here is a list of some old-fashioned practices that are like a classic blue blazer — they never go out of style:
1. Thank-you notes.
When was the last time you got a thank-you note? How did it make you feel? I’ve never heard of someone receiving a sincere thank-you note and not feeling great about it. While I occasionally email thank-you notes these days, the old-fashioned, hand-written thank-you note really packs a punch, especially because it is so rare. I try to write a thank-you note every day, to my team members (send it to their home so that they open it in front of their kids), my clients and prospects, and referral partners and strategic partners. When was the last time you sent a thank-you note to someone who did something you appreciated?
2. Dress for success.
My kids think I’m crazy, but I believe there are places where you can’t wear flip-flops, and while I think the flap over Mark Zuckerburg’s hoodie is a little crazy, you can see by the reaction that for some people it is a very live issue. I always try to dress a little nicer than expected, even when clients say, “You can wear jeans.” Wearing nice clothes shows respect for those you with whom you are meeting. While most people opt to “dress down,” why should you do the same? This is an area where it’s better to be conservative. I also find that I’m more careful with my words when I’m dressed more formally, and that’s not a bad thing! What does your look say about you?
3. Cash on hand.
For the last 10 years debt has been cheap – so a lot of people have borrowed. An army of young MBAs will show you how leverage can boost your return on investment. But now that we’ve had a banking crisis, I was hoping that some of this thinking would have changed. Sadly, I’m not seeing it. On the one hand, the MBAs are right, growing your business on other people’s money can be very profitable. But nothing gives you more options and independence than cash. If you have cash on hand you can invest when others are scared, when you see an opportunity that others don’t. You can make a commitment to a non-profit that you care about or you can take a vacation. When you owe none of those options are open to you. Cash in the bank is the most powerful leverage you can have! With money in the bank you are free! What are you doing to get free?
4. Home-cooked meals.
I cook dinner for my family five nights a week. I don’t just heat something up – I start with actual ingredients. I think this communicates love, it shows that I’m investing time in my family, and it means they have at least one healthy meal every day! What it doesn’t mean is that I can work late every night, or that I can be out at every networking event. It means that if I want to keep this commitment to my family that I have to quit early some days, I have to plan my meals (and often do some cooking) ahead of time, on the weekend, or in the morning before work. There are things that are more important than work – for me this is one of them. What are those things for you?
5. Phone calls instead of emails.
Ok, I’m going to admit this upfront. I hate email. Happiness to me is an empty inbox. But this isn’t about the medium. I see it all the time an email message going back and forth, a reply every 2-3 minutes and both sides totally missing the other. Stop it. Seriously, this is crazy behavior. Pick up the phone and call that other person and resolve the issue much more quickly. It works – you should try it. Are there times in your life when you should get on the phone with someone instead of emailing?
I know that some of these things make me old fashioned, but I’m ok with that. You can never go wrong doing what’s right.
Make sure to check out our video if you haven’t already!