Jim Schweigert President, Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

Competition in the seed business is fierce. The market share battles are creating more urgency for companies to strike now. This pressure can lead to overextending resources, making unsustainable business decisions or setting unrealistic expectations.

Here are two business practices to create long-term business opportunities without putting your company at risk.

Over Promise and Over Deliver

If you under promise in today’s competitive environment, you are leaving the door open for a competitor to offer a more attractive solution. Business decisions are being made at a faster pace every year. You don’t often have the luxury of having two to three “trial” years to earn new business. You need to make sure each perspective client or customer knows exactly what your business can do for them. Do not to sell yourself short.

You absolutely cannot under deliver on the expectations you create. The moment you don’t meet those expectations the client or customer could be lost. Setting expectations you can’t deliver on will quickly erode your reputation and negatively impact your business. Doing what you say you can do will build trust and give your clients and customers confidence in your performance and lead to future opportunities.

Fix Any Mistakes Quickly and Fairly

There is no such thing as perfect seed or perfect performance, but your clients or customers can still have a perfect experience. The moment something doesn’t go well is when your business integrity and reputation are tested. Treating your clients and customers fairly and resolving issues quickly proves you stand behind your company’s and/or products’ performance. When faced with performance issues, take immediate ownership and offer solutions.

Also, you cannot wait to alert your client or customer. Almost every issue has a resolution, but if you wait too long to communicate the problem, options may no longer be available. Quickly assess the situation, communicate the problem, take ownership and offer an immediate resolution. You’ll demonstrate your integrity and built trust with your client or customer.

The old adage to “Treat others as you want to be treated.” really does apply to business. I believe it’s even more important now than ever. The fight for every acre, every bag and every dollar is intense. Getting too caught up in the moment could lead to decisions that produce short-term results but damage your reputation in the future.