7 easy ways to wreck your business
It’s not as uncommon as you might think – there are many Gerald Ratners in this world who step in with both feet and, unable to extract themselves, dig a hole that’s nigh on impossible to climb out of.
Opening one’s mouth and being disparaging about one’s products may be a hazard that only a rare few will trip over, but there are other dangers that both budding entrepreneurs and established business owners need to navigate with care:
- Ignore customer feedback. It’s so easy to become complacent when things are going well and ambitious plans have been defined. To the point that customer comments and especially complaints that threaten or disagree with your planned utopia are readily dismissed as a one-off or a crazy customer. But customer feedback – especially negative feedback – is one of the most important sources of business intelligence and ignored at your peril. Always remember the first golden rule of business – the customer is always right. And don’t forget the second rule either – when the customer is wrong refer to rule one.
- Appoint a shaky sales director. There is probably no role more critical to business success (other than the MD/CEO) – and a sales director who isn’t top of the game in terms of selling and team leadership is potentially catastrophically damaging to your business.
- Don’t plan for under-performance. As well as a normal business plan, you should also have a plan for when you don’t achieve your financial goals – with a well thought through strategy for how you survive. Failure to do so often results in panic when revenues fall short – and panic usually means rushed short-termist damaging decisions.
- Don’t plan for over-performance. What a great problem to have most of us say – but businesses commonly fail because they grow too quickly and run out of cash. Just like under-performance, over-performance needs to be pre-planned, thought through and worked out, so you know exactly what to do and how to manage.
- Rely on one or a few customers. Oh so dangerous. You build infrastructure – aka overheads – then, wham, you lose a major client and all the revenue that they brought to your business disappears overnight. To avoid this, when the going’s good build other sources of revenue to reduce your reliance. It will always hurt if you lose a key client, but shouldn’t be catastrophic if you spread the risk.
- Don’t respect the people who work for you. It’s hard to believe perhaps, but time and again there are employers who treat both employees and suppliers as a resource to be exploited. When the going’s good perhaps that’s not catastrophic – although it will severely limit your success – but when there’s a rough time, don’t expect them to stick by you.
- Fail to take great help and quality advice. Entrepreneurs/business owners who think they know it all are destined for failure. The one thing all successful business people have in common en route to success is two open ears, two open eyes, and a brain that’s receptive.
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