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7 signs that your company is too comfortable

When a company gets too comfortable, the minor details are lost and what was once success becomes a failure. Here are the signs of any company becoming too comfortable.

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too comfortable

Companies of all size make this common mistake

No matter the size of a company, what commonly happens when you hit a certain stride is that comfort sets in. It isn’t always apparent, and it doesn’t always end in dramatic tweet-offs or Yelp battles, rather results in dissatisfied consumers and clients.

On this topic, Omar Aqel has observed seven signs that your company may be too comfortable and in need of a change. Aqel is the Co-Founder of PTel, one of the original no-contract wireless companies in the United States, and Co-Founder of newly created GIV Mobile, a new no-contract wireless service dedicated to giving 8 percent of a monthly Unlimited Everything Plan to charities of the customer’s choice.

Aqel asserts that no business leader should ever quit learning, so in his own words offers the following seven signs based on his company’s culture that will reveal whether or not your own company is too comfortable:

1. Letting Emotions Make Decisions for You:

Work can be stressful at times but that is no excuse for allowing emotions to get involved. Oftentimes employees or even managers make the mistake of letting heated conversations between themselves and customers reach the point where they act out of emotion. For example, by denying a customer the courtesy of waiving a shipping fee because the customer was rude, he or she potentially lost that customer’s business.

If nothing else, letting your emotions get the best of you once makes it easier for them to get the best of you again. We teach our employees to understand our customers first before seeking to be understood themselves. It’s very unlikely customers are contacting us with the intent to be spiteful. More than likely, they are looking for someone to help them with their problem. Remember, your hurt feelings will last a minute. A lost customer will probably be forever.

2. You Forget You Need Every Customer:

We train our employees to treat each customer as if they were our most important one because I honestly believe that’s true. The moment you lose this mentality and take the customer for granted is the moment your company begins its decline. On top of making each customer happy, this objective creates happier employees. If a customer representative denies a customer’s request to waive a fee, a charge, etc. this could be considered “good” for our bottom line. Objectively, our employee saved us money.

But the customer representative doesn’t get anything out of it, right? Instead, they got an uncomfortable, maybe even heated, conversation. By telling our employees to treat each customer as the most important customer, we give them the freedom to do right by them. With this practice, our employees never hesitate to pick up the phone, making happier employees and in turn happy customers. Your business will never fail if the customers are happy.

3. Companies Don’t Give Back:

Many companies these days make an effort to be charitable to their communities and employees. However, this giving often time dries up with added success. Whether or not a company becomes too busy, I believe companies stop being charitable at their own risk. For GIV Mobile, giving to charity is the cornerstone of our business.

I believe it’s our responsibility as a company to give back in an effort to better our community and in turn, the world. Giving back fosters a community of “people doing good,” which is what our company stands for. On top of boosting morale, giving back also helps us appreciate how much we have.

4. Outsourcing Customer Support and Becoming Out of Touch with Customers’ Concerns:

Everybody knows that many U.S. companies outsource their customer service call centers to different countries with the benefit of reducing overhead. However, there is a reason these call centers have developed a negative stigma. Oftentimes customers will call these centers looking for assistance and end up on the phone twice as long just trying to explain their situation. Outsourcing customer service to another company comes with the risk that the employees will not have the same level of knowledge or care as your own employees.

Our customer service representatives are part of our company in more ways than one. We do our best to treat our customer representatives like family and instill in them a sense of pride at GIV Mobile. If they can’t answer a question they will find the person who can. Our customer service representatives want to do everything in their power to make sure the customer hangs up happy. Companies should constantly research if their customers are truly happy with the customer service they are being provided – if not, immediately make appropriate changes so that the next time they call, they are 100% satisfied.

5. They Don’t Regularly Train Their Employees:

A lot of lip service is paid to training when a company is first established. Often there are training regiments and procedures in place to audit an employee’s performance. However, when a company grows quickly or aims to cut costs, training sessions can become less of a priority or even an inconvenience. When a company allows training to fall by the wayside, they are communicating that the service they are providing is just “good enough.” The real issue isn’t a busy schedule; rather the attitude that “good enough” is acceptable.

6. Lack of Discipline, from Top to Bottom:

The art of discipline cannot be overvalued in any company. A manager might avoid using discipline for fear of being seen as the “bad guy,” but more often than not he or she will come off as lazy, incompetent or apathetic. This can cause employees to lose respect for them. A lack of discipline can also translate into a lack of feedback, causing employees to feel stressed by not knowing whether or not they are doing a good job.

Discipline often gets harder the higher one climbs up the corporate ladder, but if a CEO can’t find it in his or her heart to discipline the managers, one can hardly expect managers to do the same for their people. Discipline always starts at the top.

7. They Forget to Thank Their Customers:

A friend of mine once told me an interesting story: her father never threw out his trash at a fast food restaurants unless the lid had “Thank You” written on it. Quirky, to say the least, but that story had a significant effect on me as a businessman. We always thank our customers. When customers call in, e-mail us or even if they are returning a product, we thank them.

Of course we want to show our customers gratitude, but by thanking them we are constantly reminding ourselves, as well as the customer, how valuable he or she is. Your customers don’t have to give you their business. If you’re selling socks, so is someone else. At GIV Mobile, we remind ourselves that appreciating and thanking our customers is essential to maintain a long-term relationship.

The takeaway

Becoming to comfortable is not synonymous with complacency – sometimes overlooking the simple details can cause a decline in the perception of your brand, and as Aqel said, every customer counts. Revamp your efforts today to keep your business successful.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Entrepreneur

Startups love pondering inclusion, yet half have no women in leadership

(STARTUPS) Tech startups are a huge part of discussing diversity and inclusion, but something as simple as hiring women in management somehow remains elusive.

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According to the Silicon Valley Bank’s annual report, over half of startups have no women on their leadership team. None.

As hard as this fact is to believe, it is also hardly breaking news. Organizations who have surveyed startups and technology companies for the past several years have seen that long-standing trends that disadvantage women and other genders in the tech space are still at play.

Like many other gendered debates about the treatment of women and other minority workers, this problem is seemingly a Catch 22 or a chicken and egg situation. Critics will continue to argue that the reason ladies aren’t in leadership roles is because they don’t have innate leadership qualities or that once their non-male employees have proven themselves, then they will start getting the resources and promotions that they say that they desire.

Like many other myths about women in the workforce, these beliefs only serve to reinforce the status quo by transferring the responsibility for these frustrating conditions onto the marginalized party.

These beliefs are busted not only because they’re tired gender clichés, but because we have hard data that proves the financial and cultural benefit in long-term effects of women leadership in tech.

However, for all the discussion of diversity initiatives, the likelihood of traditional funding going to women-led startups is still small.

For now, startups with women in leadership roles were more likely to get their funding from investing teams that were also led by females. Wouldn’t it be great if other investors began to not only understand that in 2019 it’s imperative that a company’s leadership reflect the diversity of the employees that comprise it? That workers will be more motivated, feel more understood, and have greater buy-in when they identify with their management?

Empowering women is how more get involved in tech. Diversity of leadership helps organizations thrive. And if something as simple as binary gender diversity is such a tremendous challenge, all other diversity issues are still (unfortunately) a large mountain to climb.

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Business Entrepreneur

C. J. Walker: America’s first self-made millionaire was a black orphan

(ENTREPRENEUR) When you think of our nation’s first self-made millionaire, C. J. Walker is probably not the picture that may come to mind, but this generous genius made it to the top, breaking every glass ceiling possible.

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These days, it seems like Oprah gets all the bragging rights. I don’t think it’s quite fair that some car-gifting mogul gets to bask in the glory of a path that was paved a century ago. **No offense, O Great Winfrey. You’re cool, too. Please don’t take my Altima back.**

It’s time to pay our respects to the first female self-made millionaire in America. My friends, I’d like to introduce you to your new idol, Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C. J. Walker.

This gal had just about every card in the deck working against her. Both of her parents and all of her siblings before her were born into slavery. Her mother died when she was five, and her father passed the following year. Orphaned, she lived with her older sister until she married at age 14.

As if that wasn’t enough, a mere two years after her first child was born, Sarah’s husband died. I mean, she just couldn’t catch a break. Unfortunate event after unfortunate event. She then moved to St. Louis to live with her brothers, working as a washer woman for a mere dollar a day. Classic rags-to-riches stuff.

Her brothers worked at a local barber shop, and she wound up learning a thing or two about hair care while sharing a home with them. This planted the seed that would lead to her working with Annie Turnbo Malone, selling African American hair care products. As she learned more about hair, she must have realized she had a knack for it, because she decided to roll up her sleeves and put some indie elbow grease in.

After moving to Denver to work on her own products, she married Charles Walker, who provided the advertising know-how that would help her venture succeed. She adopted the name C. J. Walker and began traveling and training women in the fields of beauty and sales.

Eleven years later, in 1917, she called her first convention of so-called “beauty culturists” in Philadelphia. Here, she rewarded her top agents as well as those who were the most philanthropic towards local charities.

What I love about C. J. is that as her business grew, so did her awareness of the social climate around her. She never forgot where she came from, never hesitated to give back, and never gave up. She lectured on topics such as women’s independence, helping educate other black women in the ways of business.

Upon her death, it was determined that she was the wealthiest African-American woman in the country. In true C. J. style, she left two-thirds of her future profits to charity.

If I ever get mega-famous, I’m doing it the C. J. Walker way: Keep a level head, educate and help others, and put your community first.

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Business Entrepreneur

7 books every entrepreneur should read

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You’ve heard it said, “do as I say and not as I do.” Read these books from authors who have figured out what works and what doesn’t when starting a business.

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The power of books

If you’re thinking about leading a startup, but not sure where to go, the internet is often the first place we look. Surely, you can find dozens of blogs, articles, stories, and opinionated editorials that can help give you something to think about.

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However, there are tons and tons of great books that can help you think about what you need to get started, how you need to change your mindset, or challenges you may confront as you begin your startup journey. Take a look at the following 7 you may want to add to your bookshelf.

1. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business
This text not only boasts a 5 start rating on Amazon, but offers what few books do – practical, tangible, down to earth advice. Where lots of books try to tell you a story, talk strategy, and share wins, author David Rose instead focuses on advice that assumes no prior experience – and breaks it down from the fundamentals.

2. Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation
Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom focus on creating a lean startup by offering a step-by-step process that focuses on nailing the product, saving time, and saving money. The first step is about testing assumptions about your business, and then adjusting to growing it (hence: Nail It and Scale It). Strong aspects of this book include a great theoretical foundation, and an easy to follow framework.

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup
Wasserman’s strength here is that he focuses not only on the financial challenges, but identifies the human cost of bad relationships – ultimately how bad decisions at the inception of a start-up set the stage for its downfall. This book is a great tool to proactively avoid future legal challenges down the row, and also discusses the importance of getting it right from the start.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Horowitz writes about his experiences, taken from his blog, in a way that even inexperienced managers can touch and learn. The advice here really focuses on leading a start-up, and what lessons his experience has given him. Presented in a humorous, honest, and poignantly profane way.

5. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Blank and Dorf here standout due the sheer mass of this text. A comprehensive volume at 573 pages, my favorite piece for new investors is a focus on valued metrics – leveraging data to fuel growth.

6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
A personal favorite of mine, this book is recommended for entrepreneurs not because it’s focus on business, but as a reminder that those of you wanting to start up are people. You have limited resources to manage as a person, and will need to adjust your perspective on what you care about. This book is about changing your mindset to pick your battles and be more focused.

7. Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
Bill Aulet starts with an approach that entrepreneurs can be taught, and breaks down the process into 24 steps, highlighting the role of focus, the challenges you may encounter, and the use of innovation. This text wins due to its practicality for new start-ups, and a specific method for creating new ventures. It also features a workbook as an additional, optional resource. Check it out on Amazon

GET READING!

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