Thoughts on how to run a business. Part 2.

– In my previous post I mentioned that it is essential to look the part – if you are meeting your clients, that is.  It made me remember a young couple, back in the Uk, who came round to our house to offer their services.  The house we had bought (just) was one of the very last derelict renovation jobs available in Sussex and, despite two babies, we took it on.  The young man in question was a builder, and with him was his wife.  Both wore very smart suits (they may well have been cheap suits, but they were smart), and the woman carried a briefcase.  We didn’t need them but we were pleasant and polite and after a few pleasanteries they went away.  Now, the builder was dressed in a suit which somehow made him look out-of-kilter with the job he was hoping to tender for.  Clean jeans and an open-necked shirt would have been better, perhaps a jacket.  The woman’s garb was more suitable for the secretary of a businessman, not a builder.  She’d have been better off also in clean jeans, a pretty top and a jacket.  We didn’t need them anyway, so it was not their clothes that lost them the tender, but it didn’t help.

– Another mistake this couple made was that they came round in the evening.  Well, the poor things had been at work all day, and only had evenings available.  But I had also been at work all day (teaching), I was a young mum of little kiddies, I was trying to get them off to bed, to make supper and bring the laundry in, and the last thing I needed was this pair turning up.  It is far better to make an appointment if you possibly can.

– Do not be in awe of your client.  S/he is not a god!  If there is something about him that makes you feel “small”, just picture him sitting on the loo!  It all depends on what your line of work is, but a man-to-man attitude to your client is usually better.  Without being familiar, which many older people consider rude, treat your client as near-as-damn-it your equal.

lorry physio

– Christian names/first names.  What a conundrum!   I have to say that I don’t like being addressed by my Christian name willy-nilly.  Talking to the bank on the phone yesterday the young man said “is it all right if I call you Catherine?”   And that was fine.  But face to face would not have been right.  I am probably 30 years older and, although I may have said to him “just call me Catherine”, it would not have been his place to assume it was OK.  I think the golden rule is that, if the other person is considerably older than you, you need to address them formally and only use their first name if they invite you to.

– be organized!  Honestly, I cannot work if things are untidy.  I work from home, being a novelist, and it is essential to me that the office is clean and tidy, that things are in their proper place where I can pick them up easily.  I used to know a man who ran his own business, and his office was a total tip; he admitted that he spent a ridiculous amount of time looking for things and that the week before the arrival of the VAT inspector was always a nightmare of trying to find invoices which could be in his car, in any number of pockets, wallet, desk …..  Truly, do your best to find some little system that keeps you organized.

– again, this depends on what your product is, but in most cases your product should shout BUY ME! or perhaps COME ON IN ! ( That is why it is important to dress the part because it says I AM THE ONE YOU NEED!)  There is a small hotel-restaurant in the village here which looks closed even when it is open.  When I once commented on this to the owner she replied “oh, people only have to glance in the window!”  Needless to say she is invariably empty.  To boot she is frequently closed because there are so few customers.  She needs parasols outside, some potted plants, a little music and the place would shout COME IN!  COME IN!  


– never try to blind your client with science!  S/he is not a fool (well, s/he may be but that is not the point) and you will not be thanked for pulling wool over somebody’s eyes

– if your vehicle is a rusty old banger (as was my case once upon a time) try to park round the corner from your meeting.  With the best will in the world, an old banger does not inspire confidence.

– last but not least remember YOU.  Know when you need to stop. Have a rest. Go to the gym.  YOU are almost certainly the most important asset your business has and you need to take really good care of that asset.

Click here for Part 3

Click here for working mothers: an extract from “A Call from France”


Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site:-            “A Call from France”          “French Sand”         ”The Man with Green Fingers”        “Saying Nothing”

They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.

Posted on 29/01/2013 by Catherine
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