February 10, 2016

Small Business Advice - Does the Owner Need To Develop A Work Persona?

Should You Develop A Work Persona?

Image found on businessnewsdaily.com

By Sean Claes

You opened your own business because you had a great idea and the want/need to be your own boss. That is fantastic! Now, you’ve secured a location, set up shop and stocked it with the things that you’d like to sell. Be it plumbing supplies, hand-made pottery, clothing or something else… they are the things that you hope people will want and moreover want to buy from YOU.

Now… a question you may have not taken time to consider… 

Who are you as a business owner?

It’s a real question.  It’s not necessarily who you are in your non-work life. In order to have the best chance of success, you should consider developing a work persona.

What is a work persona?

It’s kind of like acting… but it’s acting like yourself on your best behavior. You should be the best you on your best day… everyday for every customer. Think about it, in every job you've had, you've developed a different version of yourself... held back certain opinions...talked differently to co-workers than you do your family & friends... likely had a better attitude. That's a persona. As an owner, you're work persona is much more important. It sometimes defines the business.

Here are some things to think about when developing a work persona:

- It’s Not About You.

If someone walks in your door (no matter how well you know them in real life) and asks you how your day is going… don’t tell them. They just walked into your place of business… not your counseling or complaining session. You are there to serve them, not use them as a sounding board for your grievances. Things are going well.. and how can you help them?

- Sidestep Uncomfortable Conversations
If a customer complains about something that you have a great opinion on… don’t share it. They are in your shop and anything you say will reflect on your entire business. It’s not just YOUR opinion anymore; it’s the opinion of your entire company. If it's not an opinion that defines the product you're selling (I'd be surprised if a gun store wouldn't weigh in on something like Open Carry), don't comment. If I'm picking up a pizza from you, I don't want to hear your opinions on the Affordable Care Act. 

- Practice Safe Social Media.

Think very seriously about your social media posts. Make sure that your business Facebook page (you DO have one.. right?) posts helpful and positive things. When shopping I want to know about all of the great things you have for sale. Perhaps you can even post some funny memes that are related to your business or some stories that have come out in the news / magazines that are related to what you do. Keep it positive and make sure to invite them into your store.

Your personal Facebook page is your own… do with it as you wish… but make sure to use the “friends only” option when posting so only those who you have let into your inner realm can see those.

- Are You Part Of What You’re Selling?

Do you want to be the face of the business? If so, make sure you post about you along with your product for sale. Remember, part of owning a small business is trying to differentiate yourself from the competition. And ANYONE who sells something like yours is competition. What do you have that they don’t? To the untrained consumer… the difference is… YOU.

It’s the reward and burden of a small business. I have been treated poorly at a big box store and have ultimately gone back because they are cheaper than anywhere else. Likewise, I have been wronged by small business folks and I will NOT spend another dime with them. Now, I’m not the person who posts negative things on social media (but there are many who do), but if someone asks me what I think about a certain local business person, I may just tell them.

Why the double standard? Well, personally, I know I’m going to spend more money going to the small business owner (and most people who shop with you do as well) and that’s OK with me. But if the owner is a jerk to me or my kids, gives me bad service, and complains when I walk in… well. They just lost my business.

So… small business owners? If you aren’t a happy-go-lucky person who wants to make sure the customer is satisfied and walks out of your business’s door smiling and wanting to tell everyone they know about the great experience they just had... you might want to develop a work persona who IS that person. Now, I’m not saying be fake. I’m saying be the best you possible.

If that doesn’t work, you might want to find someone to work the storefront of your business and/or take the calls that CAN pull that off.  There ARE some people who should be “back of the house” instead of “front of the house” owners (borrowing the phrases from the restaurant world). You’ll be rewarded in sales.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Your work persona can help elevate your business to the next level, or it may just turn your dream into a nightmare. Choose wisely. People talk.

About The Author:
Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.

More advice can be found in Claes' 52 Week of DIY Music Advice - a series he wrote between 2010-2012 - link

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