Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Walter Bond (@WalterBond). Walter is an authority on peak performance. Walter has delivered his entertaining and dynamic message to companies and associations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. His passion for personal development has been anchored by his professional basketball career. Whether it’s a new product launch, hitting sales goals, gelling as a team Bond is passionate about sharing his 31 Truths to Boost Peak Performance. For more information, please visit walterbond.com
SmallBizLady: How did you transition out of professional sports so easily?
Walter Bond: Easy! Playing basketball wasn’t who I was, it was what I did. My identity was not wrapped up in sports, so I could move on. Like professional basketball, I learned quickly who were the superstars in my industry, and then I studied them like a hawk. I surrounded myself with successful business people, joined a country club, and immersed myself in their world. I read books and paid attention to my new industry and learned quickly. I reinvented me in ways that guaranteed success.
SmallBizLady: What have you learned as a small business owner you want others to know?
Walter Bond: When you own a small biz you wear many hats. You need to be organized and know what your biz needs and make sure it gets it. Never stop selling, small businesses get distracted easily. Never stop selling. You can afford mistakes so be patient with your change to make sure it’s the right change. Track everything and keep score, how much money you make is the score
SmallBizLady: What is the single most important detail for sales professional?
Walter Bond: Be disciplined with your sales process, every day ask people to buy. Have integrity in selling, because of the Internet and social media the world is tiny your reputation is at stake daily. Don’t sell products, sell hopes and dreams
SmallBizLady: What are you thoughts on partnerships & Vendors?
Walter Bond: Vendors are critical for small businesses. Make sure vendors are good and have the same commitment to excellence as you. Don’t be afraid to fire vendors because you are friends. If they ARE your friend, they’ll be your friend afterward, too. Create partnerships with other companies that can complement what you do because it makes business efficient. When you partner with other companies and business you can share lists and market to a larger audience.
SmallBizLady: How should you develop your Brand as a small business?
Walter Bond: A brand must be developed out of passion, no passion no brand. Who are you and what do you do? The answer is not for the market. It’s for you! Who you are drives everything. Creating a strong brand is like anything in business, you must focus on it. A business can’t excel without strong branding. Commit to your brand. Communicate and display it consistently on everything. A website, business cards, letterhead, etc.
SmallBizLady: How can small business owners grow their leadership skills?
Walter Bond: Pro athletes have an off-season, why not you? It’s when an athlete works on their business, not in it. An off-season is the only way you can exponential growth and improvement. Keep raising the bar and not just keep the lights on. If you’re easy on yourself, life will be tough on you. You need to hire the right people and put them in the right places and you can’t afford mistakes.
SmallBizLady: How should a small business owner think?
Walter Bond: Most small biz owners stay small because they think small. Think BIG. Every big company was small at some point. You must focus on creating and owning a niche, all smart businesses own niches. Join an association and get active, for continuing education, networking and intelligence on where the industry is headed. Read tons of business books and always allow your thinking to be challenged.
SmallBizLady: Should you hire your family to work in your business?
Walter Bond: It’s not personal it’s business. Make sure they are worthy of hire. Family membership does not mean a free ride. Make sure everyone owns something. They’ll take better care of it. Have your employees own something, not just rent a job. The family needs skin in the game, or they won’t bring it to work daily. If you bring on family make sure they do the job. Confront the moose on the table when necessary. Everyone can see the moose when there is something wrong with a family member.
SmallBizLady: How important are daily habits for business success?
Walter Bond: We are creatures of habit – success or failure is linked to daily habits. Good habits, based on sound principles = success. Daily rituals are critical for small biz success. Schedule habits and rituals to guarantee everything gets done. Small business owners worry too much about competition, cash flow, etc. Stop worrying. Start good daily business habits. Keep score to know if you are winning or losing. Track everything so that you make decisions based on fact, not emotion.
SmallBizLady: How should a small business owner view their website?
Walter Bond: Your website needs to make you money if it doesn’t make you money get a new one. Buyers need clarity. I should know that within 3 minutes or less what you do based on your website. The questions your prospects want answered before they buy should be embedded in the base page of your site. Less is more. Think like Twitter. Too much text on a website is boring and overwhelming. Your copy should be efficient.
SmallBizLady: How important is it for business owners to build relationships?
Walter Bond: Small businesses can’t survive purely on transactions, you need to build relationships and build a solid customer base. When it is wrong, make it right. Build your base with happy customers, Make everyone happy, even the annoying customers. Over-deliver for customers to protect you when you don’t. Build trust with your customers to build your customer base. Invest time in building relationships with connectors (Connectors know everyone). They can give your business a boost.
SmallBizLady: How should a Small business Owner manage Work/Life Balance?
Walter Bond: You started your business to gain unlimited income potential, control, and flexibility. Do not become a slave to your business. Close the door and go home. Stress and mistakes happen when you are burning the candle at both ends. Take vacations and off-season breaks. The off-season is when you work on your business to improve all aspects of it. Have fun. If you aren’t having fun you’re in the wrong business. If you love what you do, that is priceless.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.