Six Rules Every Business Owner Needs to Obey

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As bloggers, designers or photographers running our own businesses there are a million and one things to juggle and keep track of. It can sometimes feel like you have 27 balls in the air at once. Here are the six rules that I think you need to follow so that you drop as few of them as possible.

1. Be gracious

Never ever forget the importance of good old fashioned manners. Whether its replying to your emails in a timely fashion, sending a thank you note or even turning things down with grace, never underestimate the power of being polite. In an industry where competition is rife and reputation is everything, this is more important than ever. Even if someone is awful to you, smile and let it slide. Never bitch and moan in public and always, always be the better person.

In a hectic world full of tweets, status updates and emails sent via phones while on the move, it can be all to easy to forget just how much these small gestures can mean.

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2. Manage expectations

Managing expectations from clients, colleagues or anyone you work alongside is imperative to a smooth-sailing working situation. Be realistic with what you promise people and lay everything out from the off. Always strive to under-promise and over-deliver and if you ever can’t deliver something that was expected, be as honest and as gracious as possible.

Never avoid these awkward situations, simply apologise, do what you can to limit the fallout, learn from it and move on.

3. Keep your social media on point

Your social media interaction is one of the biggest genuine indicators as to what you are like as a person and a business. Remember this when you’re thinking of posting that moany tweet or ‘outing’ the person that’s wronged you. We’ve heard it all before but don’t bitch and whine and never air your dirty laundry in public. Similarly don’t only use your social media to rave about everything that’s amazing in your life or to repeatedly promote the same thing again and again. There’s a very fine line between keeping things interesting, engaging and positive and just being a big, boring show off.

Anywhere you are visible, strive to present your very best self. Before you post anything think “How would I feel if my ideal client saw this?” or “Would I walk into a room full of strangers and shout this at the top of my lungs?”

Similarly with your blog or website, make sure the way you present yourself is as perfect as possible. Do the images load properly? Are they all clear and consistently sized and edited? Have you spell checked?

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4. Realise when its time to say no

We can’t possibly commit to everything that’s asked of us or accept every opportunity that comes our way. Not only would we not have time, but not every avenue is right for us or our businesses. Recognise when you’re over stretched and don’t be afraid of saying no to people. Again, be honest and gracious if you turn people down. A simple “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I just don’t have the time to offer the level of commitment I’d need to for a project like this” seems like a good place to start.

People will understand that you can’t do everything but don’t avoid these situations or conversations because you’re scared of turning someone down. Saying no will not damage your reputation, never replying or responding to pitches or enquiries will.

5. Accept that you will be criticised

Realising that you will, at some point, face criticism or come up against opposition is a freeing exercise. Spending your time worrying that one day you might have someone say something mean about you is only going to make you censor yourself or not run with your ideas. Know that one day you may experience a situation like this, accept it as a possibility and don’t allow it to limit you. The way they feel about you is not your problem, it’s theirs. There is nothing you can do to change them, all you can do is strive to be the very best version of yourself.

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6. Always be thinking about what’s around the corner

Never ever rest on your laurels. It’s a sure-fire way to get overtaken by a more eager competitor. Always strive to improve, always be thinking “what’s next?” and always push forward with new ideas. I don’t know about you but I’ve always sucked at being bored, and as stagnation is a fast track to falling out of love with your business, I’m always thinking what my next grand scheme might be. Never get stuck in a rut and if you feel yourself going that way, ask yourself “What can I do to fall back in love with my business?”

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16 comments

  1. “Remember this when you’re thinking of posting that moany tweet or ‘outing’ the person that’s wronged you. We’ve heard it all before but don’t bitch and whine and never air your dirty laundry in public.”
    I think this point is one of the most difficult for me (and the “say no” point, definitely). It’s like asking me to stop breathing. Not that I don’t agree, of course, and I am really grateful to Marcio (point 1. -> check!) for being that really calm and patient husband that makes me remember to behave. :)

  2. I made a really bad mistake last year of calling someone out for copying my work when actually they hadn’t. I’m blaming my overprotectiveness going into overdrive after having a baby but I still feel uber guilty and stupid about it. Great post Kat x

  3. Nearly did that too, Lindsey. I guess my biggest fear is to write to someone and call her by the wrong name, or worst (?), create a post and put the newly weds’ names of the last/next post. I know this will inevitably happen, the sooner or the later, and that I’ll have to deal with it, but it panics me already.

  4. Claire

    Good advice Kat, and I like that it comes from the perspective of a blogger / business. The ‘rules’ for more established types of business are clearer: as the face of my calligraphy business I have to be professional, efficient etc. As a blogger the lines are more blurry (because personality comes into play in such a big way). So these rules are fab and add perspective to that side of my online businesses.
    Thanks!

  5. I’m especially interested in #6, as I get bored so easily. Do you ever get stuck in a rut with Rock ‘n Roll Bride or ever think about doing something different? How do you handle that?

  6. great guidance, as always! Sometimes it’s hard, but the long term benefits (as well as not causing ourselves to regret something!) are invaluable. x

  7. Hi, thank you! This post is really useful for me as I literally turned my hobby into a business just last month, so all of this is new and sometimes a bit overwhelming!
    Have to say, I do remember the people on Facebook etc who are very polite and encouraging towards me and others, so I try to do the same!

  8. Excellent post thanks Kat. I think replying to people is so important (Kat is an excellent example of replying to my recent emails! I really appreciated your fast and friendly responses)

    Trying to organise a styled shoot recently for my portfolio I understood that not all the businesses I contacted would want to / have time to be involved, no problem there. But to not get a quick reply from some was definately a disappointing experience and has affected my perception of them.

    Good tips for social media use too – I will remember them x

  9. Wow – firstly I love the post. I have had a business for over 6 years now and moved from a shop to trading from home. I particularly like the bit ‘when to say no’ people often think because I don’t have a shop my prices should be lower – but I charge for what I think I am worth ;o) This means sometimes I have to say no when they ask for discount. I feel mean – but then as the tv advert says ‘cos I’m worth it!’ Keep up the great work and I am so please I have found your page.

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