Business, especially your own, can be a minefield of challenges. All business come across challenges sooner or later during their operation. Difficult clients, unreliable suppliers are just a few of those challenges. Just the changes you have to deal with on a day to day basis when you’re in business can be quite overwhelming. Add to that the challenges in everyday life, no wonder, on a bad day you’d feel absolutely floored with all you have to tackle… so you need the skills to be able to stand up for yourself and carry on.
There are no guarantees in life at all. However, in business, there are 5 sure-fire ways to ensure to put your best foot forward.
I’m a big believer in advocating for yourself when you’re in business. You are empowered as a business owner when you know with absolute certainty that you did the best you possibly could to achieve a good outcome.
Self-advocacy is when you speak up and stand up for yourself in issues that affect you. Practising self-advocacy is learning the skills to find, understand and apply information that is relevant to you, your rights and your responsibilities.
Here are the 5 key things you can do to advocate for yourself from a position of calm and strength:
1 – Take your time to assess the situation in question.
You don’t have to deal with it immediately. You may react from an emotional rather rational mindset. Wait until you are in a position to view the situation in a balanced way. Consider all aspects of an issue, situation, argument or misunderstanding.
It’s OK to sit with it for a while, maybe even a day. Think through what is happening and what you can do to handle the matter with reason and compassion in the best way possible. Don’t react from emotion. Respond instead when you’re ready.
2 – Encourage the other party to consider your solutions, suggestions, offers or thoughts before responding to you.
Give them ample space to do that. This will allow the other party to also respond instead of react. Sometimes a solution may not seem possible because emotions may run high.
Giving them time to think about your solutions also gives them a chance to cool down. It will also provide an opportunity for them to see thing clearer and more manageable.
3 – Refer back to your contract, terms and conditions, clients agreement or service contract.
These are professional documents provided either by you or your client. Use it as a negotiation tool for a win/win outcome. Referring to these documents will remind all parties what you both agreed to and what steps can be and need to be taken to resolve any issues. Make this a friendly discussion and prevent the issue becoming even bigger than it’s necessary.
4 – Ensure you have a basic understanding of Consumer Law.
This covers things such as code of conduct, your responsibilities and obligations as well as your customers’. Search for consumer law that covers your state as well as federal if applicable. Consumer guarantees contained in Consumer Law legislation will trump any unfair contract terms you might in your terms and conditions, client agreements etc so make sure you get proper legal advice if you are unsure.
5 – Educate yourself on how you can self-advocate and negotiate.
It’s empowering when you know what questions to ask, when it’s appropriate to make an offer, when to supply information and when to compromise. Self-advocacy empowers you to choose your battles while focusing on building your business skills and growing your services. It helps you acquire the knowledge you need to successfully and actively participate in decisions being made about your livelihood and your business.
Taking the time to respond, opening the lines of communication, referring to your contract, some knowledge of the relevant consumer law and self-advocacy skills will put you in the best position to navigate a challenging situation with a client and stand up for yourself in your business.
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.