The best advice or pearl of wisdom, business or otherwise, I ever received is to under-promise and over-deliver. What does that mean? Under-promise what you can do, and over-deliver what you've promised. Every. Single. Time.
I've worked with people who understand the basic principle, and agree with me when I bring it up. But they FAIL completely when it comes to putting the concept into practice. They say their work on a project will be completed in a week, and it takes them three weeks. They're perceived as non-trustworthy, and sometimes downright lazy.
This one of the few times in life when you can actually manage how others perceive you.
Scenario: My client comes to me in a panic on Monday, “We’ve got to have this ad done by Thursday! Can you help?!” I repeat back the details of the project so I make sure to understand it completely. In my head I know I can have it done by Tuesday so I agree. I try to get it done on Tuesday but it took longer than I thought it would and end up delivering on Wednesday. If something happens and I can’t deliver until Thursday, I’ve still met my client’s deadline. What’s the benefit here? It’s not just making yourself look like a hero, which of course it does. It’s FREE INSURANCE on your time. If your computer crashes (which mine has), if your basement floods (which mine has—twice!), if you've had to take one of your kids to the ER (which has happened to me more times than I care to count), you can still deliver on time. The client learns that you are good for your word, and you gain credibility; you're perceived as reliable and trustworthy. This is a reputation that will spread all by itself.
By under-promising and over-delivering, you manage how people are perceiving you, and you get to CHOOSE to be the hero or the asshole. Deliver on time (or even early) and you're the reliable HERO. Deliver late (even with legitimate cause) and you're the unreliable ASSHOLE. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out which way you'd rather be perceived!
What pearls of wisdom do you have?
Thanks for reading,
p.s. My pearl of wisdom for you is to under-promise and over-deliver. Every time!
Good juju-spreader, storyteller, graphic designer. I'd love to hear from you!