The Business of Bullying

Business cannot be done without other people. People can fill various roles in business, they can be customers, vendors, or other professionals in the same field. In simple terms, I estimate there to be 2 arms of business; the customer side (who patrons your business, the ones that pay your mortgage) and the support side (the vendors who enable you to do what you do - i.e. the nurse to the doctor). Though I also appreciate and admire the zealousness that some business owners have in protecting, honoring, and ultimately delivering for their clients and customers, I am at times honestly surprised that they can still find people who are willing to fill their support side.

The question in this entry is this: when does the esteem for your customer become a bad thing?

As a small business owner myself, I understand the need to side with your client, however, when that so grossly violates those that support and enable you to conduct your business, I would venture to say that you have become a bully in business. Even further, I cannot understand how business can be successfully or ethically conducted when service to your customer greatly outweighs the respect and consideration for those who support you. In my opinion, at ground level, it's a lack of integrity.

Although this doesn't sound like a heart-warming post, I have found great insight in recently learning this lesson which, fortunately for me, was gleaned by someone else's poor example. When recently a business owner tried to swing their proverbial "weight" around and back me into a corner, I acknowledged what was happening. I immediately took a stand for myself and the integrity I choose to run my business with. The best part? Probably shocking them by turning away their business.

By consciously choosing to run my business with a code of ethics, I have set up check points to prevent myself from becoming snarky, overly competitive, or even a bully. The reward for this diligence is that I also get to choose who I work with. No amount of money or number of contracts in a year is worth me risking who I am and what I stand for. Unfortunately, for the business owner I was supporting, the scales were tipping.

Now I'm not saying I'm perfect - there are many examples, I am sure, of humility to throw on the table. However, I refuse to be a victim to insecurity, bullying in business, or small thinking. I want to embrace each challenge, surround myself with people who support me and keep me in check. I want to celebrate the successes of my competitors and colleagues and support them in ways that are unique to me. I love collaborating with other professionals because in the end, that's what business is about - recognizing you can't do it alone.

It takes people, not power.

Avoiding the Bling Cha-Ching

It's that time of year again - no, I'm not talking about Valentine's Day. What I'm writing about spans much longer than a mere day; in fact, it's an entire season. Wedding Season. il_340x270.539154858_262l

Wedding Wire indicates that about 33% of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, making January - March very busy time for nearly everyone involved with the wedding industry. Whether you're a business owner or vendor piled under writing contracts and pricing proposals or you're here because the proverbial stars have aligned in your love life (yippee!), here's my advice to avoid getting taken advantage of and Beware of Bling Cha-Ching.

1. Although I'd love to think that every bride has an unlimited budget to make her wedding the most fabulous day ever - I don't believe this is true and I also don't believe you should go into debt to live this fantasy. I've heard horror stories of couples banking on their wedding gifts (checks and cash) to cover the cost of the fabulous party they just threw. My encouragement is this: your friends and family think that YOU are fabulous enough and that's why the showed up. Don't outdo yourselves and be upstaged by your dress, your flowers, even your paper (gasp! Did I just say that?!).

2. Don't believe the lie that you can't do it on your own....I mean, part of that is true (if you don't believe me, check out Pinterest fails or try eating a really poorly baked wedding cake...gross). However, don't play into the insecurity that you aren't creative or that you have to pay everyone for things you know you could do. Try tackling things like wedding favors, decor (ie - go antiquing or thrift store shopping for mismatched vases or dishes), create your own photo booth with a retro Polaroid camera, make your bridesmaid jewelry, or wedding party gifts.

The caveat to this is don't DIY everything. Don't let Uncle Jim take your wedding photo or video. Don't let your aspiring project runway little sister take charge of your fashion. And don't bake your own wedding cake. See my take on that here.