10 Ways To Knockout Your Competition


As you compete for business opportunities, it’s important to look for new ways to stand out from your competition. Presenting yourself as a polished professional is a powerful way to earn respect for your business, and to show yourself worthy of the success you want. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs fail to recognize the etiquette blunders that keep businesses from reaching their full potential.

So, BrandMakerNews asked a diverse group of small business consultants and etiquette coaches to highlight the top mistakes entrepreneurs make when running their companies. Their responses, not only exposed common business flaws, but also presented helpful etiquette tips to help entrepreneurs keep their businesses (and their manners) in check.

Here are 10 ways to knockout your competition as you present yourself as a polished business professional:

1. Take the high road- We have countless opportunities to be drawn into gossip and rumor mills. Just because these inappropriate conversations exists, does not mean you have to play along or engage in them. Tell your colleagues that you don’t engage in that kind of thing, and build a reputation as a stand up man or woman who does not talk dirt about others. -Alan Stern, Stage Right Organizational Development

2. Invest in professional branding- When small business owners hand out business cards with email address that read like XYZ@yahoo.com or XXZ@hotmail.com, it conveys a message that they are just starting out and have not yet made it in their chosen field or industry. The good news is that the cost to own your own domain (and email address) is very low, and there are tons of low cost graphic designers who can design a professional logo for your business. Invest a relatively low amount up front to legitimize your business or pay a fortune over the long-term. -Chris Bryant, Chris Bryant Presents Inc.

3. Dress appropriately for your business- Ladies, remember that fashion dress does not necessarily equal business dress. Save the plunging necklines, short hemlines and dangling earrings for evening, opting for conservative dress for business. Gentlemen, make sure your clothes fit correctly, shoes are shined and all body art is concealed. (Unless, of course, you run a tattoo parlor.) Both genders: have your hair professionally styled and maintain that style carefully.   -Kathie B. Martin, The Etiquette School of Birmingham

4. Remember dining manners- Dining manners are something professionals should be mindful of when meeting with clients, business partners and executives. Simple table manners like not using your fingers, not speaking with your mouth full and placing your napkin on your lap should be top of mind during lunch business meetings. It shows respect, poise and professionalism. -Jen Olewinski, Olewinski Group

5. Don’t share too much information- Small business owners and entrepreneurs have to learn how to put a period on the end of a sentence or thought. Don’t keep talking and tell everyone about your financial struggles or how challenging it is to make your business profitable. Be positive. Be authentic. But don’t ramble on to your customers about how hard it is to be a business owner. Remember, running your own business is a choice. Continuing to be a customer is their choice. Give them a reason to return. -Bill Horton, BizFix

6. Learn proper phone etiquette- Do not pick up the phone with a “hi” or a “yeah”. You need to, at least, state the name of the business but preferably your own name and then the businesses name. “Good day this is Steve. You’ve reached Steve’s Lock Company.” -Jane Paterson, 1st Class Etiquette

7. Do not undercharge- A low price, especially below market value sends strong messages that you aren’t a strong business person, and that you don’t believe in yourself, your products or services. Starting low sends the message that the quality of your work may be lower than what the market demands. Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth, EVEN if you are just starting out. - Anastasia Valentine

8. Prepare for your meetings- If you make an appointment to meet with someone, then you need to be fully prepared to meet them. Arrive on time, and show up with all the bare essentials like a pen, pad of paper and business cards. Entrepreneurs invite doubt as to how well their services will be when they attend meetings unprepared. -Patricia Ann, The Wedding Studio

9. Stop bombarding people with your business cards- Too many entrepreneurs hand their business card out like a deck of cards- hoping one will land a sale. The proper etiquette is to wait to be asked for your business card. And- make sure you have professional looking cards. People won’t take you seriously if your card doesn’t look professional. -Arden Clise, Clise Etiquette

10. Respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner- You’ve got to make the time to get back to people, ideally within 24 hours, and treat them as though they’re your only client. Yes, entrepreneurs are busy with many aspects of running their business but people deserve the courtesy of a reply and if you can’t manage this basic courtesy, people will do business elsewhere. -Cecilia Pita, Savoire-Faire

Entrepreneurs, use the tips above to knockout your competition, and to show that you are polished professionals that anyone would be proud to do business with.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their expertise to BrandMakerNews’ Roundtable Discussion. If you have any other business etiquette tips to add, please share them below…

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