It's business time

Hooray! Smarta is HERE! We’ve been born, we’re alive and we are HERE FOR YOU.
Now, enough self congratulation. It’s time for business.

So, first things first. We are not the only big new news, not the only applauded, altruistic and eagerly-anticipated new arrival on the scene. There is the small matter of Mr B Obama, of course.

And the fact that pretty much everyone except the KKK expects the new President of the United States to single-handedly end the global recession, stop the world from melting, and instigate peace in every nation of the Earth.

Yup, we have realised. This is a pretty tall order. But for more than 38m Americans – not to mention the rest of the world - who tuned in to see his electoral speech, tall orders are just the beginning of a mountain of expectations. (Just as a taster, the results of a BBC World Service poll of 17,000 people in 17 countries revealed that more than two thirds of those questioned think that he will strengthen US relations abroad.)

How do you manage such high expectations?

The first key lesson is the old business adage that it’s always best to under-promise and over-deliver. This leaves you, of course, looking like you’ve massively over-delivered thanks to the handy margin of productiveness you’ve created for yourself by under-promising.

But if a client – or a country, or even an entire planet – has already set expectations so high that any hopes of under-promising are far, far behind you, the best next step is to restore the natural order and pull their feet back down to the ground.

If you’re a business owner, this means assessing their expectations quickly and thoroughly and working out exactly how much time and man-power their targets would take to achieve. Then hold a polite but firm meeting with them at the absolute earliest available opportunity to explain that their aims or just not feasible within the budget or time constraints they’ve given you.

Now, such meetings may go well – but they may not. To avoid trouble, make sure you can explain every detail of plans to the client, and why it isn’t feasible. Definitely, definitely come up with alternative plans, make compromises and offer new ways forward.

Finally, if they are really after something you can’t deliver, it may be worth your while and theirs referring them elsewhere. You certainly don’t want to fail them, and the goodwill and honesty can go a long way towards your reputation and future custom from them.

On the other hand, if it’s you reading this, Mr President – I think your focus on hard work made the point nicely. Even the lowest of expectations in business can’t be reached without that.

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