5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners
It’s tough to strike out on your own and go into business for yourself. Everyone has an opinion on what you should do, and they all want to proclaim it loudly. But advice on running a business isn’t one-size fits all.
- Just work hard and everything will work out. Parents and teachers have probably told you that if you just work hard, success will follow. It turns out that success relies on a lot more than just keeping your nose to the proverbial grindstone. Sweating it out in a field that doesn’t interest you, or for a product or service that has little consumer interest, isn’t going to get you very far. Additionally, when speaking to other business owners you will find that it wasn’t just hard work, but also a lot of luck that got them to where they are today. Forming good business relationships, networking, and being open and available to opportunities often played a huge role in their success.
- Do what you love. As Cal Newport points out in his book, Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You, we often think we have to love something before we pursue it. But the reality is that we learn to love the things we are good at. Instead, many business owners work diligently in fields they find interesting, and then begin to hone and refine their interests as they acquire more knowledge. If you intend to start a business, you will also need to consider how what you’re good at can be turned toward the creation of a product or service that is useful, inspirational, or intriguing enough to interest consumers.
- The customer is always right. Wrong. If you have a hot dog stand and a customer comes up who wants a hamburger, do you shift your business strategy to include hamburgers and therefore lose your niche? Customer feedback is only useful if they are in search of what it is that you’re selling. So if you sell sneakers and customers tell you there’s a sneaker they’d like in stock that you don’t have, that’s useful advice. Telling you they’d also like you to sell milk at the counter? Not so much.
- Going it alone. American culture puts great stock in individualism and the success of the lone entrepreneur. But the myth of the lone wolf businessperson who creates an empire is just that – a myth. Every great entrepreneur knows when to bring in help so they can successfully grow and diversify their business. Achieving growth beyond a certain point will be very limited if you try to do it all yourself. Call on the expertise of outsourced professionals like Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, which has over a century of business experience that it can put to work for small business owners like you. Ask for a free tour of our facilities.
- Grow or die. The relentless pursuit of business growth drives many owners today, especially those who want to take their companies public or sell them to larger companies. But what are your goals for your business? To make a profit? To have something to pass on to your children? To help others while making a living? Define your own measure of success, and grow or maintain your business accordingly.