While you might not think that Lance Armstrong is a good business model after last week’s final confession, there are some lessons that business owners can take away from his example. Read on for what you should, and should not do in business.
Honesty is the best policy– For almost ten years Lance Armstrong was involved in doping in cycling but it took years for him to admit his guilt. Instead, he often lied about his involvement with drugs. When it comes to doing business, honesty is always the best policy. There’s no point lying about something- including services or expected wait times. It will inevitably come back to haunt you later, so tell the truth from the beginning.
How to handle a crisis- Hopefully you won’t have to face international ridicule on the scale Armstrong did, but one thing you can learn from his final, orchestrated admission with Oprah is to take control. Step back from a situation when it looks like it’s spiralling and regain the reigns. Facing a customer backlash over a faulty product? Issue a mea culpa immediately and get on the PR frontfoot. Dealing with a sudden loss of supplier? Tap into your contacts and stretch yourself with research. You may find a better deal than you previously had.
Nothing’s worth sacrificing everything- While it often feels like spending your weekend dealing with your business is a good idea, there are other things in life to be enjoyed. Your friends and family for example. Sure, it’s ok to take a risk, and starting your own small business often is, but don’t lose sight of what you might lose if you put everything on the line.
When in doubt, seek help- Talking to Oprah was one of the best decisions that Armstrong made throughout this crisis. It immediately calmed down media speculation and offered him a caring shoulder to talk to (Oprah was never going to be as hard hitting as other US TV show hosts could have been). So learn to ask the professionals: whether it’s in marketing, website creation, accounting, PR, social media- there’s no shame in turning to someone who knows what they’re doing and asking for help.
Don’t do drugs- While this may be good general life advice rather than specific business advice, the means to the end is the point. Skipping important steps, cutting corners or generally being careless in how you achieve your business goals will be the first steps to seeing your business fall over. Always be diligent in how you treat your business, and you’ll make sure you never see yourself on Oprah’s couch for the wrong reasons.