“So, how’s business?”
As entrepreneurs, we often get asked some variation of this question. People really want to know, and true information from someone who is actually out there making things happen can be so much more valuable and interesting than media coverage.
Even among good friends or in “small-talk” settings, questions such as these represent big opportunities. Your response says something about your character and subtly indicates whether you are a person with whom others may or may not want to do business.
It is absolutely true that everyday conversations can open doors or close doors. I’ve witnessed both and have come up with a few guiding principles:
Never Complain! You might not have had the best week. You might be concerned about the direction of the market. Clients or cash flow might be more of a challenge than usual, but the fact is, going negative is simply the easy way out. If you are able to look at the big picture, identify opportunities, and focus on what’s positive, you position yourself as a true expert and a person of character.
Don’t Criticize! Of course, clients can try your patience. They’re human. Rather than sharing a story about a recent experience with a frustrating client, establish yourself as the professional who is committed to shepherding clients through whatever rocky terrain might emerge throughout the transaction.
Let’s look at two different approaches to answering a question about business:
Q. So how’s business?
Lose/Lose Answer:UGH! People just don’t seem to get it. I’m working with a couple right now who has no grasp on the reality of the current market. Their budget is completely out of line with what’s available. This is not 2002!
Win/Win Answer:Great! Lately, I’ve been directing clients to some great opportunities. I love it when people can have an open mind and consider options that they might not have thought about.
The second answer positions you as a professional who enjoys helping clients and is committed to finding solutions.
View every encounter as an opportunity. If someone asks you about your business, it’s good to be prepared with a brief and positive answer. What’s even better is to keep in mind that good manners and good marketing often go hand in hand. In other words, remember that people tend to want to be asked about themselves. So turn the question back on them. Find out what’s behind their question. Let them know that you are interested and that you care. Continue the conversation going two and three deep with questions to try and truly understand where they are coming from and what specifically they are interested in knowing.
In large and small ways, throughout everyday conversations and actions, character shows up. When your character is what fuels your life and your business, it can propel you forward in wonderful directions.