5 Outdated Beliefs That Are Hurting Your Business

Take your time.  Read through the list and see if you had or still have any of these beliefs.  No shame in being honest, all of us have probably had at least one one of the listed items pass through our minds as we begun to conduct and operate our business.   So much has changed over the course of a few years and over various industries that we cannot continue to hold onto outdated beliefs, especially as business owners.  Everything goes through cycles, phases and re-boots.  Holding onto what we think is right is because it’s what we’ve known all long is the equivalent to throwing money away.  And no one I know is in the business of doing that.

OutDated

  1. Your customers can and will find you — The Great Recession (I love still calling it that) turned many people into obligated self-employed persons.  People started their own businesses because they had to in order to continue to earn a living.  Skipping over the personal metrics of what that all means — you are not the only person doing what you’re doing or offering what you’re offering.  I don’t care how well your website was designed, how quick you launched the business or how much money you invested.  You don’t exist until you let people know you’re in business.  Which means, you have to find your customer, not the other way around.  Ideas: marketing — traditional and online, networking, community partnerships and word of mouth.
  2. There is no “free” money out there for small business owners  – It seems like it’s no money out there, but there is.  A lot of the times, it’ll be in the form of a contest, and other times it can be a private grant.  Either way, if you want to raise money that you’ll never have to pay back again, just be willing to put in the time.  I probably shouldn’t say this, but I suggest staying away from the SBA and Grants.gov.  Most business owners aren’t professional grant writers, cannot afford a grant writer, don’t have the time and energy to read through the mess they call eligibility requirements and will not meet the guidelines imposed to receive the government funding available.
  3. The customer is ALWAYS right — If the customer is always right, then why are they coming to you?  No, seriously, think about it.  If the customer had all the answers and knew where to find all the resources, why are they knocking on your door?  This is not said to inflate our own egos, but just to help put things into perspective when we’re questioned by a customer or client about our capability and knowledge.  We never want to approach them defensively, but with a bit of enlightenment.  A reminder, so to speak, that we can do what we do because of how long we’ve been doing it, how trained we are at doing what we do and what we know about what we’re doing.
  4. If it worked then, it will work now  — Nope, nope, never.  The problem with this belief should be obvious, but maybe it isn’t.  If you haven’t heard it before, let me share it with you now:  The only constant in business  is change.  Your customers will change, your prices will change, your hours of operation will change, your employees will change and yes, how you do and conduct business will change because the economy and market are always changing.  Don’t believe me?  Fine, don’t change.   Come find me in six months to a year’s time.
  5. Working smart outperforms working hard — Uh, no.  You can work smart, but you still have to work hard.  There’s no way around that.   And we’ve all heard it before: Work smart, not hard!  Let’s be honest, someone had to work hard to come up with that, so what does that tell you?  There really is no substitute for working hard and working smart just means you’ve taken all that hard work and created a system for it.   That’s truly what it is.  Yes, many of us have been working hard only to spin our wheels and get nowhere.  So how do we avoid that trap?  Direction.  Work hard towards something, not just for the sake of working hard.

It’s easy to hold onto what we know and what we believed was working for us when there’s so much new untested crap being thrown our way.  However, we have to be wise and responsive enough to separate what sticks and what sticks to the fan.  The times are always changing.  We need to make we adjust, set sail and flow with it.

Advertisements

Bring The Networking Opportunities To You

Networking is still intimidating for many of us.  No one wants to go up to a complete stranger, plaster a fake smile on their face and make introductions.  It’s awkward, it’s forced and by the end of it, we haven’t really ‘networked’.  Yeah, we might have collected a number of business cards, names and numbers, but we haven’t formed any real relationships with other professionals.  That part takes time.  And besides, networking events can be painful and a hassle (yet, we still go, right?) But wouldn’t it be easier if the people we wanted to touch base with and connect with came to us instead?  And not at some poorly thrown together event where we all have to wear sticker name tags?

Until we’ve gotten into the rhythm of formulating a strategy for networking, many of us don’t really know who we should network with.  We’ll go up to someone, do our little spiel, let them do theirs and walk away hoping we did good enough.  Ugh! How often have we done that?!  Instead, start small, start simple, start social.  As in, using social media.  It’s easier, takes the pressure off and gives us the advantage of doing a little research on the person and their company before we ever have to open our mouths.  One of the best places to practice social networking is on LinkedIn.  Because it’s simple.

  • Follow a person’s company page.  See what kind of updates they have, any links they share.  Google their website online.  Get interested in their business before you connect.  If they don’t have one, suggest, they start one.
  • If this person is consider a thought leader, follow their postings.  Comment on their postings.  Like and share their postings.  Make it a point to notice them and others they’re interacting with.  By doing so, someone is surely noticing you.
  • Share your company blog.  Don’t have a company blog? tsk, tsk! You already know you should have one.  And when you’ve loaded some posts onto it.  Share it as an update on your status.  Share it to groups you belong to on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t belong to any groups?  JOIN!  But don’t be one of those people who belong to like 37 groups!!!  How can they actively participate in all those group discussions, network effectively and have time left over to work in and on their business?  Not likely.  Pick… 4-5 groups.  Groups that matter to your business and industry.  No need for hyper-drive overkill here.
  • Take advantage of those offerings to connect with someone (LinkedIn gives you up to five people to connect with on the basic account outside your network).
  • Whenever you add someone new your network, immediately send them a message.  It’s doesn’t have to be a bio about yourself or a company overview.  Just a simple thank you for adding you and that you look forward to sharing ideas and connecting with them in the near future.  Appreciate everyone’s time and gesture.

Get engaged.  That is what networking comes down to, especially when it’s handled virtually.  No secret about how to do it, just get engaged.  Show others you’re someone worth knowing and they will come seek you out.   But, of course, you have to put yourself and your business out there.  In order for others to network with you, you gotta leave them some bread crumbs.