When you’re a small business owner, you get used to people giving you advice. Sometimes you seek out their insights while other times they share whether you want them to or not. While the advice is almost always well intended, it’s not always good. In fact, sometimes it’s downright awful.
Here are some tips that well-meaning people give to small business owners that definitely should NOT be followed.
1. Never turn down a paying customer
Money is a good thing. But that doesn’t mean you should say yes to everyone who comes through your door. Not every person who approaches you is good for your business. If your gut tells you something is off—maybe the person is very demanding or constantly questions your prices—it’s in your best interests to say no.
It’s not necessarily about the client, either. You might be very busy, and taking on another project means you’ll be giving them subpar service or using up your valuable personal time.
If possible, turn them away graciously by explaining that you’re very busy and cannot give them the attention they deserve. Consider recommending another business for them that they could turn to.
Don’t say “yes” to everyone who walks through the door just because they’re a paying customer.
2. The customer is always right
It’s often in your best interests to ensure an unhappy customer is addressed and their needs are met. But there are clients out there who will never be happy, no matter what you do. It’s okay to try to make things right with them, but you also run the risk of word getting out that you’ll bend over backwards to make customers happy. That just encourages more unhappy people to come your way. Or it encourages people to find reasons to be unhappy so they can get additional benefits from you.
If it’s a normal part of routine that customers are constantly complaining and getting some sort of reward, you need to examine your business. If the customers are truly right, then it’s time for some changes. If they aren’t right, stop treating them like they are.
3. Do what you love
In an ideal world, we’d all have jobs we love and make endless money with no added stress, all without giving up any of our personal time. That’s not how the world works. Just because you love something doesn’t mean there is a market out there for it.
It’s more important that you find something you are okay with doing—don’t take on something you hate—that fills a need. And it has to be something enough people would be willing to pay for.
That’s how you make money in business.
Everyone has advice about running a small business, even if they have never run one of their own. Some of the advice is helpful but much of it is harmful. Listening to that advice can lead a small business owner down the wrong path.
When someone offers you advice on your small business, ask what credibility they have to share their insights. Have they owned their own business? Do they have knowledge of the industry you work in? Have they learned lessons you could learn from? Was their business similar to yours?
Remember, just because someone is offering advice doesn’t necessarily mean their advice is relevant to you. And just because they offer the advice—or just because the advice is a common saying—doesn’t mean you have to follow it.
Got a question about your business? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.