Are you practicing your expectations?

Have you been told that your expectations are too high? For some business owners, this may make you feel that you should lower your expectations due to pressure felt by these comments, resulting in managing in a “settle-for” mindset to the detriment of your business or what you envision. Another consideration about expectations is in what you as the business owner expect of others and then what you practice and demonstrate to others.


If you are not practicing what you preach in your expectations, this may be why your expectations are not being met. To follow are five areas in which I have witnessed entrepreneurs being inconsistent in what they expect versus what they may actually be practicing:


1. Transaction vs. Relationships:  If your emphasis for increasing sales is focused on moving product and service versus identifying solutions and meeting the specific needs of your customers, then you may be professing you are all about relationships, but you are demonstrating a focus on making transactions for sales. It is perfectly acceptable to showcase a product or service in a marketing effort; just make sure it is being showcased with the customer’s needs and ultimate benefits in mind.


2. Expense vs. Investment: You want your customers to view your product or service as value-added and preferred over your competitors. You provide literature citing that it is worth the investment, especially if you are priced slightly higher. Do you approach your spending decisions in the same way? If you always go out to bid on everything you purchase, you are sending mixed messages.  


3. Commodity vs. Custom: If you are in a business where your product or service has become viewed as a commodity, your best offense is to tailor your approach or the offering itself to make it unique and value added. Is there anything in your business that you are viewing as a commodity? Then step back to consider how it can be differentiated for greater value to you with the right resource, expertise or support.


4. Reactive vs. Responsive: Being proactive and anticipating the needs of your customer are what set a good company apart from the great company. Having contingencies to be ready and able to respond versus scrambling to react is pivotal for ongoing success. This means practicing this same level of intention within your business and how you run it versus just in how you proclaim to serve customers.  


5. Attitude vs. Gratitude: I actually overheard someone say that thank you notes are for little kids. This speaks most clearly to the unfortunate mindset of “do as I say, not as I do.”  Expressing and showing appreciation should be an ongoing practice with you in life, in your business and with everyone around you. If you are selective about how you show gratitude, for instance, to customers, but not to employees, then take a step back and ask yourself what this is saying about you. 


One of the toughest things to do as an entrepreneur, owner or manager is to look in the mirror and truly see who and how you really are being based on your actions. Living up to your own expectations, by practicing what you preach, results in clarity and conviction by those from whom you expect the same. It also reaffirms what is truly important to you in your own success, as well as the success of your business.

Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.