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9 Behaviors Small Business Owners Should Avoid

(updated 2021) 

Small business owners have a lot on their plate, and they don't usually have a lot of resources to get it all done, including time, money, and staff.  These conditions make it tempting to take short cuts, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But, there's some things that always deserve your full attention:

Skip Due Diligence
Implementing a quick solution to an un-vetted problem may seem like a great idea, initially; but in the long-run, a well thought out plan of action is much better. Establish processes and procedures that provide for objectivity, such as an independent review or committee, to ensure that you consider a broad spectrum of perspectives, to choose the most effective solution, and to avoid unforeseen consequences.

Assign responsibility for each phase of the project/program/event, track the progress, and hold team members accountable for their performance. This way your client gets the best possible product/service – avoiding disappointment or confusion.

Implementing a quick solution to an un-vetted problem may seem like a great idea, initially; but in the long-run, a well thought out plan of action is much better.
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Be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. Take stock of your resources, (human, materials, networks, suppliers, etc.), work within those confines, and allow for an appropriate margin for error. You’ll never wow a customer by being stretched too thin. When resources are spread thin the product quality may become sub-par, and an obvious turn-off for customers.

Under-commit and over-deliver. The goal is to win the customer's approval, to garner respect and admiration, and to ignite the desire to recommend your organization to their networks. You'll accomplish this by providing a quality product/service that meets or exceeds your customers expectations.

Lose Focus of the Mission
There’s nothing worse than dealing with a confused organization. And if the organization is confused, then so too are the potential customers.

If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you're not making time to be reflective: Is your organization in alignment with your original intent? Or does the original intent need to be refined? All healthy organizations have robust internal communication systems. Employees need the organization’s leaders to show them how the mission translates into current and future initiatives. Without a clear understanding of the purpose and direction, employees cannot advocate and relay the desired image to current and potential customers.

Forget About the Customer
It’s a cardinal sin to forget about the customer. Really. They are the cornerstone of your organization. If you don't solve a problem for the consumer, why does your organization exist? There’s a lot of moving parts in business, and it can become easy to allow other concerns to cloud the focus. You must fight against this constantly. 

The second part of this battle is the customer has an ever changing face, need, want, and desire. If you don’t stay up-to-date concerning the changes, your competitor is likely to successfully arbitrage your efforts. This doesn't mean that you give away the bank trying to make your customers happy. There are limits to the adage that "The customer is always right.” But never forget that they are the reason you exist, without demand, there's no need for your supply. 

Listen to your market's opinion to work towards an understanding or agreeable solutions. In any case, as a going concern, the customer should simply never be disregarded.

Become Inflexible
Those that survive the storm are not unyielding nor are they too lenient. When presented with new information, we have to be willing give new consideration and change strategy, policy, and behaviors as required.

The only thing that’s certain is change. Accept it and deal with it to the best of your capabilities. Otherwise you risk missing new opportunities by being stuck on obsolete technology, theories, and  consumer needs.

Forget the Earth’s True Trajectory
The world does not revolve around you. Everyone else knows it, and you should know it too.

Be patient in your endeavors, especially at work. Everyone has commitments, responsibilities, etc. Be understanding and work with others to accomplish goals. The world has its own idea about things and a mind and will of its own. You may or may not be a part of the equation from one day to the next…be patient. We are all interdependent and although it may be “easier” if everyone bent their will to yours it is unlikely, and makes for a miserable workforce. World domination requires people who are willingly bought into an idea. That tends to occur when individuals are appreciated in their own right.

Fail to Maintain Branding Efforts
Don’t underestimate the power of communicating with your audience simply by showing consumers what you want associated with your brand, including name, design, symbol, and slogan.

Approximately 90% of communication is non-verbal cues. Perhaps this is because extensive verbal language is much newer human development than non-verbal communication. Visual and emotional cues still dominate our landscape of understanding: colors, shapes, and short and sweet slogans. These are easy to grasp cues – the ones that stick with us – but only if you remind us, periodically.

“Embracing the spirit of creativity does not guarantee a win. In fact, it could open a door to failure. But as the saying goes, "You never know unless you try." We do not have to wait for an incubator or an economic crisis to capitalize on creativity. Any organization can create a sustainable environment that allows for exploration and norm divergence without judgment or punishment for perceived failures.”

- Embrace Creative Failure to Realize Your Best

Over Complicate Matters
Communications, processes, and procedures tend to be inherently complex, so it’s helpful to clarify and to streamline processes to arrive at a more basic and easily understood conclusion. Complexity does not equal intelligence, a good challenge, or superiority; it simply causes confusion and frustration. When consumers encounter a clear barrier to understanding, they’re not intrigued. They’re usually annoyed, frustrated, and reticent to continue with your organization. Besides, I bet someone else wants their business and is willing make it very easy for them.

Forget to Breathe
Remember to take a break when necessary. You’re only human and everyone will be happier if you get the rest and personal attention that you need. No one likes cranky adults - Really.

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