If you have been keeping up on my book that is featured in the Notes section of my Facebook profile, you know two of my friends own small businesses (though neither of them advertise on DiversePhilly - friends are the hardest to work with). Just the other day, I ran into one of my friends, let's call her Sue, at her business and she said I should stop speaking to her. I asked her "What is the problem?" She said, I was disloyal to her by taking my daughter to her ex-employee's competing business. She also said, "If I am her friend and she does not like someone, then I should not like someone."
There are a few problems with this scenario. As we move the company to the business owner stage, these are the lessons I take with me:
1) Employees are not your friends. Sue thought her employee was her friend and that is why she was upset when she no longer chose to work for her. You can be friendly with your employees but they are not your friends. The employees can become resentful if you hold a paycheck over their head. Always treat your employees with respect (they generate your profit margin) and create an environment conducive to friendly relations.
2) Loyalty - As a customer I am known to be hard to satisfy. Treat your customers as you want to be treated. I stopped going to Sue's business because they have been known to smoke inside of the business and use foul language. Instead of asking why I did not use her services and use that as a learning experience, she used the guilt tactic of loyalty.
My loyalty exists in servicing my clients to bring them information, relationships and success stories they can use to be inspired and grow their business. Though we are friends, loyalty will not keep me as a customer. I left my children's day care center (which is owned by another close friend) on three separate occasions (and I still manage to come back) because my philosophy has been yes, we are friends, but when it comes to exchanging money for services, it is strictly business. My friend who owns the day care center was able to take me back (after some begging) because she shares the same philosophy. Creating a business relationship should not enhance or deter a friendship. I recently found a LinkedIn profile that had 58 recommendations. That is my new goal to reach this year. I only have 50% of that number and am looking to find ways to add more value to my clients and garner more recommendations of a job well done. I want to create an environment where the standard is excellence (see success stories above). Though excellence is not obtainable, it can still be a goal. I am already planning what it takes to win the Greater Philadelphia Chamber's Excellence Awards. Will you join me?