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To mark our 10th birthday here at WebBox, I’ve been sharing the ten lessons I’ve learned during the last decade in business.

In my first post I talked about the importance of instinct, focusing on your strengths and great service.

In part two, I share the other most important lessons I’ve learned since establishing the agency in 2008.

And kicking off this week, I’m talking honesty:

6.  Honesty counts for a lot

One of my most treasured personal values is honesty, and I put that at the heart of all I do in business. It’s becoming an increasingly rare commodity, which is a shame because clients really value it.

It’s important to be as transparent as possible with clients, to speak up when a brief is unrealistic, and to own up if and when things go wrong. As long as you find a way to fix it, clients appreciate honesty. It really is a virtue.

7. Don’t rush in

It’s tempting to go in all guns blazing when a new brief lands on your desk. You want to show you can deliver, which is of course important. But more haste less speed is also a truism for a reason.

When we take on a new project, we invest time at the outset to make sure we have the most insightful, informed approach, whatever the project.

Whether that’s organising focus groups to ensure a new website will meet the needs of a diverse range of audiences, or working alongside Google to gain insight and trend data to inform our PPC campaigns, I’ve learned that it takes time to plan a successful project. I’ve also learned that investing that time at the outset can save you headaches further down the line.

8. Give and take

Our business is based on building strong relationships with people who are prepared to invest their budget and trust with us. Like all good relationships, this is always about given and take.

Sometimes you have to be prepared to be more flexible, because there will be times when you need something from a client in return, be that a testimonial, a referral or some patience when a project hits a bump in the road.

Be prepared to be magnanimous, and you’ll be surprised at how much people are prepared to give in return.

This also goes for how I work with my team. Flexibility around working hours and patterns has paid dividends for me in terms of loyalty, motivation and results.

9. Strive for excellence and don’t let things get in your way

Google has a phrase they use when describing how they work: “Expanding the art of the possible”. For me, this is about always striving for excellence in all you do.

It’s inevitable that you will come up against hurdles, but it’s important to see them as obstacles to be worked around, not insurmountable barriers to your end destination.

Don’t say “but”, say “yes and….” – it makes a huge difference to results.

Sometimes for us,, this means spending longer on a project that we planned or going with our gut feeling on the best approach rather than the easy option.

10. Set realistic expectations

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to set realistic expectations, both for myself, my team and with clients. There is little point promising the moon on a stick because you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

For me, it’s about using our knowledge and experience to guide clients towards what is realistic, and achievable. Where we can, we use data and examples to strengthen our case – clients invariably appreciate the honesty and expertise.

I’ve found that it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver and remember that we are the experts. Biting off more than we can chew helps nobody and won’t win that all-important repeat business.

I hope that you resonate with at least some of the points above.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this article. Why not join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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