Three unusual business lessons

Dave Stitt
Dave Stitt, Leadership Team Coach and Author 

1) Pricing

Just after setting up my business nearly twenty years ago, I went on a course at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC). The course title was simple and timely for me: “How to set up and run a business”.

It was two hours long on a Tuesday evening every fortnight for 12 weeks.

On the very first night, twenty minutes in, the guy leading it suddenly paused, as if he had just thought of something.

“If you could get one thing out of this course, we wouldn’t have to do the course,” he said. “But you won’t get it, so we’re going to have to do it.”

We sat up then. “What is it?” we shouted. “What’s the lesson?”

Theatrically, he resisted, and tried to return to the topic.

We kept insisting: “No, tell us!”

After hemming and hawing for what seemed like ages, he said: “OK, here it is.”

Then he paused for more hammy effect.

Finally, he came out with it.

“Put your prices up,” he said.

The room, including me, went crazy.

“No way,” I said. “I’m just starting out, my market won’t bear it. My work will dry up!”

Everyone else said the same thing.

“OK,” he said smugly. “Looks like we’re going to have to do the course.”

Two weeks after it finished, I put my prices up, and have continued to do so as I’ve added more value.

The lesson is, it doesn’t matter what I think my service is worth, it’s what it’s worth to my customer.

Find out, and charge accordingly.

2) Shut up

The old gate-crashing, attention-grabbing, “look-how-good-we-are!” style of marketing doesn’t work. It’s counterproductive, wastes people’s time and hacks them off.

I know, because I produced glossy brochures for years, at great expense, and most of them went straight in the bin.

And it’s no good telling people “we are very good”, because nowadays “very good” is boring. Soon, “excellent” will be boring. As customers, we want to be moved, excited, and amazed. We want to talk about what we’ve bought, to tell a story about it.

As we approach the end of this decade, only “remarkable” will do. “Remarkable” means “inviting remark”. The right people, and lots of them, have to be talking about us positively and what we offer.

Instead of boring my customers with blather about me, I want them talking to their friends and peers – about me.

That means shut up, listen carefully, and deliver well.

3) Delegation

It’s assumed that once people get to be boss, they delegate, and they do it well.

They don’t.

“You just can’t get the staff these days,” people say to me, all the time. They also say: “If I want anything done right, I have to do it myself,” and “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

These are sure signs that a boss is not delegating.

Proper delegation gets very little thought or consideration because it’s old-hat. We think we understand it. But it isn’t, and we don’t.

I believe bad delegation is so widespread in organisational life today that it’s a pandemic, and lies behind chronically poor performance and low productivity.

Good delegation is a new art. It requires thoughtful design of desired outcomes and well-managed, two-way feedback. I call it “deep and deliberate delegation”, and I’ve written a how-to book about it. I hope you check it out:

About the author 

Dave Stitt is a leadership team coach and author of new book: Deep and Deliberate Delegation: A new art for unleashing talent and winning back time. Dave is based at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) and is currently leading their Leadership Development Programme for business owners located at the BIC.

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