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Are you a “Big Hat- No Cattle” Kinda Business Owner?

It’s a noisy world. There’s a lot of “big hat-no cattle” stuff going around these days. You’ve heard the old saying. In Texas vernacular, he’s the guy who struts his stuff like a big-time rancher. In reality, all he has is the 10 gallon hat.

There’s really no ranch. No cattle. It’s all show. Smoke, mirrors, or in our world today, internet hype and flash.

If you’re in business, you don’t want to be this guy. You don’t want your business to be filled with nothing more than empty promises. In today’s noisy world where everyone claims to be an expert, you want to find a way to set yourself a part from the other guys.

One way to do just that is to initiate trust with your customers. Easier said than done.

I find that my entrepreneurial clients fall into one of two categories. They either create trust as a natural part of how they do business. It’s just who they are; they don’t even have to think about it.

Or, they have no idea what trust is actually about.

If you fall into the second category, here’s a few things to consider. Remember, trust is comprised of two basic elements: Competency and Benevolence.

What this essentially means is that you have to be real and true in what you know and what you have to offer. And, you also have to care enough about your clients to meet their needs.

I’m not talking about pretending to care so that you can get the business or close the deal. I mean, really care.

You can’t fake caring for your customers anymore than a rancher can pretend to feed his cattle. Over time, they’d just wander off and die.

So, it is with you. If your expertise is built on empty promises—if you fail to show you sincerely care—your customers will wander off to somebody else’s ranch.

Let’s explore this a bit further.

Authentic Competency

Authentic competency is a complex matter, but here are a few things that can move you in the right direction.

  • Be clear on your strengths and your level of expertise. Market from there.
  • Don’t oversell your strengths. You can’t fake this stuff. Customers can tell what you know and what you don’t know. Build upon your talents, don’t embellish them.
  • Stop copying everyone else. Do the hard work.
  • Learn and develop yourself so that you are that expert in your field. You don’t have to be better than everyone else. You just have to be real in what you can offer.
  • Share your knowledge based on your expertise and experience. Refer the rest to someone you trust. You can’t be all things to all people.
  • Create value for your customer. Don’t assume that a client or customer is yours for life. Continue to add value or they will move on.

 Responsible Care

My #1 rule at Spano & Company is that every customer is treated as though he/she is the only customer. What this means is that I’m never too busy or too important to listen or to meet their needs. I don’t take them for granted, and I’m all in to get them the results they’re after.

Responsible care, however, doesn’t mean that you don’t set boundaries. Boundaries help set up a professional environment that enhances mutual trust and respect. This is an important factor that many business owners fail to acknowledge. Set those boundaries up front in whatever form is appropriate to your business, and it’s a win for everyone.

Responsible care also means that you leave your ego at the door. There’s simply no room for a spirit of arrogance in a relationship built on trust. Your clients don’t care how many followers you have on FaceBook or Twitter. They only care about one thing: being your #1 customer.

No matter how “all that” you think you are, remember this. You’re not doing your customers a favor by serving them. Your business is serving them. Without them, you have no business.

One of the easiest ways to let them know they’re #1 is by honoring your commitments.

Here my challenge to you.

Spend the next two weeks being very intentional about how you represent your products and services to your customers.

Are you speaking from competence and expertise or are you embellishing? Are you showing that you sincerely care? Are you honoring your commitments? Are you referring to others when you don’t have the answers?

Think about all areas of competence and care and how it’s impacting your business. Where do you need to make changes in 2015?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. December 9, 2014