I grew up being told that if you don’t expect anything, when you do get it, it will make you happy. In principal, this is what I am really aiming for. As a race, we all have expectations – from our family, friends, partners, clients, suppliers, community et al.
Here are some very basic levels of expectations – I know its stating the obvious but it is surprising how many don’t apply them to business or for that matter themselves. A lot of people I know and do business with have expectations but are reluctant to voice them let alone put it in writing.
One of the key lessons I learnt was to understand and evaluate what I am good at and what I’m not. This changes over time as I master and add new skills (yes, always learning) but I am honest in what I can and cannot do. Not just as a person but also as the owner of a small business. If you over-extend yourself, you will find that not only are you upset with yourself but the chances are that you are not going to be able to give 100% to whatever you’re working on – be it a personal or business project. Use close friends and family to help you evaluate this because underestimating yourself is probably just as bad as overreaching.
Managing your team
Its important that you clearly outline what you expect from them. Its also important to understand what they expect. Establish a common ground so that there are no misunderstandings. Not that there won’t be or haven’t been misunderstandings but these are probably because common ground was not established. Expectations change over time and its important to ensure a continuous open dialogue so that there are no misunderstandings.
Managing your clients
Like your team, clients have expectations (sometimes unspoken) that can create problems in measuring the success of a campaign or project. This is something that can very clearly affect your bottom line and its very very important to set these right from the beginning. If the common goals of a project are not identified, quantified, and measurable, then for the sake of your company’s reputation, it is better to just walk away rather than take it on. Especially for small businesses. You cannot afford to say yes when you know that you cannot deliver on (sometimes) unrealistic or unspoken expectations.
Managing your suppliers
If your suppliers let you down because you were not clear about what you expected, there is a disaster waiting to happen. Because it means that you have then let down your company and your client.
Once again – not rocket science but important to remember. Implied expectations are never manageable.