Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If honesty isn’t the best policy, it is a close second.

OK, I lied. Honesty is the best policy when you try to land your first customer. Telling the truth may seem like such a simple thing, but it's often overlooked. You’ll hear lots of advice about working hard, working smart, never giving up, and so on. But a commitment to the truth often gets left out.

We all want to be truthful in our business, but honesty can become an early casualty as we try to persuade a teetering prospect to commit. We start hedging the length of time we’ve been in business. We count our spouse and children as staff. We include the UPS guy as an employee. We set steaming mugs of coffee at empty desks when visitors come. We suddenly have phantom customers. I mention honesty at the beginning of this blog for a good reason. The integrity of your venture will color everything else you do. If that’s not enough reason, truthfulness can also help you land Customer #1.

Before you call on your first prospect, make a pact with yourself to accurately represent the depth of your company. This does not mean you have to loop a sign around your neck that says “We are a tiny company.” In fact, you should always present your story in the best possible light. The best possible light is the truth: You’re new and you’re small. Being a small, new company does not have to be a liability. More than a half million new businesses open their doors each year in America. If the rest of us were afraid to become their customers, commerce in this country would grind to a halt.

If you convince yourself that your company’s size is one of its strengths, and in fact may be one of your greatest assets, many of your prospects will believe it, too. No, not all prospects will want to do business with a company that's just two minutes old, but many will be open to it. And why not? By golly, your size is your strength. If you need convincing, I can give you two compelling reasons without having met you. More on that next time.

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