The Danger In Burning Bridges

There comes a point in business when relationships end. It could be due to wrongdoing or simply outgrowing. Sometimes it’s because you end it and sometimes it’s because someone else does. How it ends though, can make all of the difference, not only to your reputation, but your bottom line, future connections, and business opportunities. 

While it can be tempting (and let’s face it in some cases completely justified) to say exactly what you feel and burn bridges behind you, if you are wise, you will try to end every relationship as amicably as possible. By leaving the bridge intact, even if a little rocky, you at least still have the option to pass by again in the future if you ever need to.

In case you’re not convinced, here are some of the dangers you can face when burning bridges – regardless of whether you are in the right or the wrong.

1. The business world is small

While it can often seem as though you are dealing with a person or business in isolation, it is rarely true. The business world is small, and it’s made even smaller with online communities. 

People are well connected and often with people you least expect. You never know who knows who and what influence the person you are dealing with may have over their connections now or further down the track. You also never know what future opportunities could be missed or tainted because of a strained relationship or conflict. 

2. Everyone talks to someone

Everyone has at least one confidant, a sounding board who helps them work through their challenges. If you are lucky, then it is only one person, but if the situation is heated or interesting enough, it can spread like wildfire. Suddenly a lot of people know – or think they know – what has happened before you’ve even had a chance to share your side. 

The trouble with conflict, bad news and scandals is that it’s juicy, it spreads wide and fast, and can take longer to die down than good news. When you decide to burn bridges and react instead of respond, you never know who is behind the person you are having challenges with. Whose ear they are whispering in, what they are saying or increasingly, what they will write on social media. 

3. What you do and say can be held against you

When you are angry or upset, it can be easy to say things you either don’t mean or would normally leave unsaid. But a moment really can change everything. You never know who may be watching, listening or reading and what opinion they can form of you based on that one experience with you or impression of you.

While it is important to keep things in writing, be mindful that your tone, emphasis, and intent can and will often be misconstrued. Before you send anything ask yourself, is this a good representation of my character and what I stand for? Could this have legal ramifications? Would I be happy for this to be made public? 

4. Who you burn on the way up, can burn you on the way down

In business, there are never any guarantees. You can have a booming business one day and the next, due to circumstances that may or may not be in your control, end up right back where you started.

You never know when you will need a relationship or connection again, this is why it is so important to maintain relationships at all levels of your business journey. 

Yes, relationships will end, and you will outgrow suppliers, associates, and even customers. Just make sure it is done without ego or high emotion, because if you do fall, you normally see or need to lean on the same people as you climb back up.

There is no question that in business, there will be times where you will have to stand up to injustice, defend your position and point or view, and even burn a bridge or two. When you do though, do it with the full knowledge of how it will affect you and your business now, and how it could affect you in the future.

Amanda


How to manage fast growth and maintain your reputation

For many entrepreneurs starting a business comes with the dream of creating a fast growing company that customers love. But as demand grows and sales soar you can suddenly be faced with some very real and different challenges that you may not have planned for in your start-up. 

Sometimes all takes is one big customer, one media opportunity or one photo, status or campaign to go viral and you can be faced with a flood of enquiries and sales. To ensure you handle your growth effectively and maintain your reputation along the way here are five points to keep in mind. 

1. Streamline

The more you systemise and streamline each task the quicker it will be to complete and the easier it will be to outsource or delegate to new and existing team members as your business grows. 

Ideally you want to be systemising from start-up while still keeping your processes fluid enough to grow with you. This will ensure you can grow easily with minimal disruption to your business operations. 

2. Delegate

When you are experiencing high growth your time needs to be spent as productively and profitably as possible. Be ruthless with your to-do list and make sure any tasks that aren’t a good use of your time is delegated to another team member or outsourced professional.

3. Manage your cash flow

Staffing and other growth expenses can put significant strain on your cash flow, and if not managed effectively can cost you your business even despite its popularity. 

To prevent this, ensure you are receiving regular financial reports so you can prioritise expenses and plan around periods of low cash flow. Also be careful about the staff roles you look to fill first. While you will need support staff to get the tasks done, you will also need sales people to bring in new business to cover your growing expenses. 

4. Keep marketing

While stopping your marketing may seem like a good idea during high growth periods, it can drastically affect your cash flow. With increased expenses you need to ensure you have consistent income coming in. 

If you are considering stopping or slowing your marketing down, make these decisions based around your sales figures and budget forecast. Know where your leads are coming from as well as your slow periods, lead time and conversion rate. 

5. Watch your capacity

To maintain your reputation you need to grow your capacity as your business grows. Make sure you can comfortably service all of your existing customers and exceed their expectations as well as any new customers you bring on board. Your existing customer base really is your gold mine; they are the best source of new business so it is important not to burn them. 

Before you bring in new business or say yes to a project, ask yourself “Can I service this customer effectively and provide real value?” if the answer is yes, go for it, if the answer is no, be honest. If the answer is yes but not yet, then book the work in at a later date. While you may lose a sale, think about how much more you could lose if you can’t deliver and they tell people about their bad experience. 

How do you manage your business growth?

Amanda


Four ways to manage your business reputation

With your business reputation directly linked to your bottom line it is important to do everything you can to build and maintain it. 

While your business will inevitably take knocks from unhappy customers, mistakes you make and decisions you wish you could do-over, by following these four ways to safeguard your reputation you can still preserve your standing in the business world. 

1. Be personable, not personal

A lot of people get this concept confused, especially in the online world. Keep your personal life out of your business life as much as possible. Know what you will and won’t disclose and discuss with your customers, and be mindful of who is on – and who can see, your personal social media profiles.

2. Assume that nothing is private

As a publicist I can’t tell you how many times I see private information become public. Be careful what you put out in the public sphere and who you trust with information. You can only protect your content so much. 

What you write or say can be taken out of context, forwarded on to others or downloaded before you have deleted it, and programs or website changes to rules and settings can leave your information vulnerable. 

The best way to protect yourself and your business is to assume that nothing online or on your devices is private. If you aren’t happy for everyone to see it, don’t send or upload it.

3. Don’t run from adversity or negative feedback

You don’t need to be a saint to maintain a good reputation. We all make mistakes; it’s what we do after that makes the difference to our reputation.

Your character is proven in how you handle adversity, conflict and negative feedback. By taking responsibility for mistakes and handling adversity and negative criticism well (whether right or wrong) not only protects your reputation, it also wins you respect, and can result in more people coming to your aid and wanting to work with you simply because of the attitude you have.

4. Monitor your reputation

As your profile builds it is important to monitor what is being said or published about you. Monitor social media, do regular searches and set Google Alerts for your name, key staff and business name. Being proactive will not only allow you to stay on top of any negative feedback, you will also be able to thank those who are referring and promoting you.

If you do find negative feedback (depending on what has been said), don’t rush to delete it or complain, it can be an opportunity to turn the situation completely around. Many businesses gain likes and customers from social media simply by acknowledging, apologising and offering a solution to an unhappy customer.

How do you manage your business reputation?

Amanda


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