If you were to seriously consider the top attributes that make or break success in businesses, many things come to mind, but three are fundamental to all others.
Integrity is the one quality that tips the scale between a person or business that succeeds and one that fails.
In an interview with the owner of API Plumbing, Bill Ayoub, integrity is important for being a plumber, important for being an entrepreneur, and even more important for being a moral person in general.
To begin with, it’s a fundamental requirement for customers to value a company or even an employee. They need to know they can trust you in terms of reliability, quality, support, and character.
Once a customer or employer takes the risk of investing their time and money into a you, it’s highly beneficial to…
- Ask for feedback
- Use the feedback to gauge quality standards and evolving expectations of you and your services/products
- And build strong and honest data the you can grow on.
Furthermore, it is crucial to always keep in mind that those who pay you for your labor, services, or products are KING. And you have to ensure you uphold all contractual obligations and promises to the best of your ability to ensure people trust you to be able to do what you say and say what you do.
If they are left unhappy, you could lose their business, any business they could have referred you, and also any business that they drive away will have negative comments about what you do, thus causing even more damage.
Therefore it is vital for you to:
- Gain their trust in those moments, by honoring their opinions and doing what is right and necessary to remedy the issues.
- Take a hands-on approach for accounting and recording so that the progress of the company can be tracked and questionable actions can be addressed
- Ensure You and your leaders keep integrity as an aspect in every decision and action so it trickles down to every level of the organization.
Real business is based on trust and no one prospers and no business scales if you don’t have integrity.
2. Soft Skills
The second piece of advice that I learned, based off of the book The E-Myth Revisited, is important for understanding why being an entrepreneur is what actually helps you scale. API Plumbing also realizes that for them, a one man plumber would not scale, but an entrepreneur who hires amazing plumbers can.
They understand that many small businesses don’t work because it’s lead by technicians who know how to do the technical role of the job, but might not always have the soft skills needed by an entrepreneur to take themselves or their business to the next level.
As a technician, being an expert in their field, only enjoy working on what they are good at. They lack many soft skills, and often neglect other aspects of the business such as customer service, networking, and management.
An entrepreneur on the other hand, always has the future in mind and thinks steps ahead rather than the work that they are currently doing right now. While both roles or components of a business are necessary, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur if you are expecting your business to grow.
A great example of this is LaShawn Jenkins from The Jenkins Law Firm. He’s the owner, and his goals are to scale his law firm across the country. In order to do that, he needs more leads, more cases, and more revenues. Thus, he’s scaling up marketing for his law firm and getting more traffic. If he tried doing marketing himself, he would never scale because he can’t do everything. Thus, he’s applying the methods from the E-Myth perfectly: hiring others to follow processes / systems to achieve your results.
3. Maximize Customer Experience by Exceeding Expectations
And lastly, API Plumbing recognizes how valuable it is to think about the customer experience first to ensure it meets their expectations. Your business should always strive to be attributed to characteristics like trust and reliability.
If customers or people expect you to show up on time or within 2 hours because that is what you or your website says, then you need to meet that expectation because otherwise they may never call you back.
But sometimes it is easy to forget to emphasize relationships because it is a long term goal that needs to be constantly maintained.
Putting it on the back burner because you have “more important” short term errands that need to be tended to first. “More important” than taking care of the very people who support you and your business to put food on your table.
Thus you have to always keep in mind and think thoroughly about others and the steps to their experience with you. As it is crucial to building a successful business and scaling as an entrepreneur.
A great book to read on the subject of expectations and interacting with people is How to Win Friends and Influence People.
What does this mean for you while you’re in college?
Start now. Make a commitment to have integrity now if you haven’t already made that commitment. Make a commitment to not be afraid to network or ask a “bigshot” out to lunch for advice. Make a commitment to set an expectations, then exceed them!
I’ll give you a personal example that changed my life. When I was a freshman, my WPC 101 teacher brought in a successful entrepreneur named Michael O’Brien to speak to the class about entrepreneurship. Afterwards, I asked him out to lunch. He accepted. We hit it off so well and had such common interests that we met every single week for almost a year. Then we decided to become business partners and have started many companies together like Invisume (which was recently featured in the news), Usurp, and the Dental Internet Marketing Team to name a few. If I wouldn’t have had the guts to reach out to him because I was scared to “network” or didn’t have any soft skills, we wouldn’t have become business partners.
What does this mean for you?
The habits you create in college will most likely stick with you for the rest of your life. Start forming habits today for the person you want to become in 5 years. You’ll thank yourself in 5 years. Take action, even in the midst of fear. You’ll be glad you did.