In this age of constant change, I usually find myself writing about what has changed. Yet I find that periodically it pays to reflect on what hasn’t changed in business, probably won’t change in the foreseeable future, and is still critical to our success in our professional career, as well as the success of our business. Here is my list of the basics that some people in business tend to forget:
- Showing up consistently must still be priority one. I’m not talking about clocking in to work and physically putting in your time. I’m talking about being present mentally and engaged, with a full focus on the business work at hand, and contributing to the team. According to recent Gallup data, only 32 percent of employees are fully engaged today.
- Customers and peers still expect follow-up and timeliness. I still expect people in every business I call to answer the phone, or at least return the call in a timely fashion. Today there are many more ways to make contact, including email, social media, and web site queries, yet a common complaint I still hear is that no one ever responds.
- No one wants to hear that you are too busy for them. Every smart professional and business owner needs to reflect regularly on what they have really accomplished in a given day or week. Results of consequence should never include how many meetings you attended, or hours spent at work. Businesses grow based on customers served.
- Number and quality of relationships is still critical. Business connections and networking are still the source of major new clients, new job opportunities, and most promotions. Relationship building does not happen without effort, and the right people won’t find you automatically. It takes initiative on your part, just like it always has.
- It’s good for your business to find a work-life balance. Successful business people find a way to escape the pressures of work on a regular basis – through family, a hobby, sports, or other recreation. Every human body needs time to rejuvenate, for maximum productivity and creativity at work. Take some time to get totally away from the grind.
- Your job in business goes well beyond any job description. There is no simple formula for delighting customers, and anticipating the next business challenge. Your ability to satisfy the needs of customers and peers in any role can never be fully defined by a job description. Yet declaring that something is not your job will not impress anyone.
- It’s not how many things you start, it’s how many you finish. Crossing the finish line ahead of competitors is what gets you paid, and the only way your business will thrive. Investors in new businesses look for traction and results, not ideas. People who proclaim to be thinkers, rather than doers, rarely get funded, and rarely succeed in business.
- Customers and peers want to follow leaders, not processes. Even very detailed business processes can’t cover all the important cases. The best businesses people have always been the ones who are skilled and empowered to push the limits, and manage tough situations without excuses. These will lead your business to success.
- Managing cash flow is still a major key to business operation. According to financial experts, 80% of small business failures today are caused by poor cash flow, and that hasn’t changed for a long time. Cash is king when it comes to the financial management of a growing company. Entrepreneurs need to manage cash flow daily and personally.
- Honesty and integrity in business still pay big dividends. A couple of the most important factors in any business and career continue to be honesty and integrity, which breed trust. It is very difficult to have long-term success if your customers and your peers don’t trust you or don’t think you’re honest. I don’t believe that will ever change.
Thus it’s still critical to spend as much time at work focusing on the things that don’t change, as you do on the things that must change. More importantly, these things that don’t change can be your anchor for stability and enjoyment, leading to real satisfaction as well as success. What more could anyone want from work?