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4 Small Business Take-Aways from the Wells Fargo Scandal

Once again big business has let us down.  As if banks didn’t have enough bad PR with the whole Great Recession housing crisis and “too big to fail” nonsense.  Now we have Wells Fargo – – another leader in the banking industry proving once again that corporate America can’t be trusted.

Since the Great Recession the United States has seen a resurgence of small business ownership. Consumers who are sick and tired of of people-corporations squeezing every drop of revenue from us have either left corporate America or made a choice to support more local businesses. That gives small business owners and marketers tremendous opportunity to fill in the ethics-gap left by big business. Check out these small business take-aways from the Wells Fargo scandal.bigstock_vector_burglar_3457584

Set Realistic Business and Sales goals.

Stealing and cheating is never right. No matter what. I am not saying the employees who opened all those fake accounts are innocent. But I have worked in sales and I understand the immense pressure to achieve sales goals.   If Wells Fargo truly cared about their customers (more than their shareholders), they’d have set more attainable goals so their employees didn’t have to commit fraud to keep their jobs.

Small Business Lesson: While goals are important to the growth of your business ALWAYS remember your #1 priority is delivering value to your customers.

Work With Your team – Not Against Them

Wells Fargo’s mess started with the out-of-touch big wigs at the top making decisions and setting unrealistic goals for those on the front lines, who deal with actual customers every single day. They were so focused on stock prices and making shareholders money that they lost sight of their own mission: “We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.” If they had worked with – and listened to – their customer service teams instead of dictating from above, they may have been able to avoid this scandal.

Small Business Lesson:  Hire good, smart people and listen to them. Don’t get so blinded by your own ideas and visions that you allow yourself to lose site of the bigger picture. A good team can help you stay grounded AND support healthy, organic growth.

scandall-wells-fargoYour Brand (and Your Reputation) are More Important than the Bottom Line

I don’t know too many small business owners who got into it for the money. Sure we all want to make a decent living and build a comfortable life. But most business owners I know started a business because they wanted freedom, autonomy, independence and they had something of value to offer the marketplace.  However, once you get a taste of success, it’s easy to forget that and start chasing the dollar – and that’s when things start to get slippery. When you start being in it for the money rather than the love for what you do, it becomes far too easy to let your values and ethics slide.

Small Business Lesson: Hang your mission statement on your wall and read it every single day and ask yourself, “Am I living up to that mission?”  If not, it may be time to reevaluate.

As a Business Owner it’s your Job to Take Responsibility – for Everything!

Shit rolls downhill. If your team isn’t producing enough, selling enough or delivering enough take a good hard look at yourself; you are ultimately the one responsible. And rather than pointing the finger, you should be taking a long hard look in the mirror.

Small Business Lesson:   As a business owner, it’s your job to hire the right people, create a culture that produces and delivers value to customers and manage in a way that inspires creativity and brings out the best in people.


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