The world of business is riddled with myths and ill-truths that dictate how small business owners run their companies, the majority of which are outdated or simply don’t work when put into practice. Here, we look at 10 of the biggest business myths we all need to stop believing are true.
Moneymaking may be the overarching goal behind every business endeavour, but it’s certainly not the chief single of success. Small business owners should aim to build a strong and growing company that is trusted by its customers and staff, rather than a simple cash cow that’s here today and gone tomorrow. Get these things right, and the green shoots of financial stability will come about quite naturally — so you’ve no need to focus all your attention on making money.
From a small business perspective, competing with larger businesses in a similar sector can be disheartening, particularly if they offer lower prices on their products. But, rather than lowering the price of your products to a financially unviable level, it’s better to focus on offering a better service and unique selling point (USP), to encourage people to come through the door or to your website. Think of ways to solve the problems of your customers, and forget about always offering the cheapest price.
While it’s important to be realistic about what your customers can expect from your level of service, working under the mantra of under promise and over deliver isn’t a shrewd move when it comes to earning and retaining customers. In truth, businesses should look to over promise and over deliver to be successful, and not simply undersell to their customers in a bid to exceed expectation.
Even the most revolutionary and ground-breaking of new products, designs and services aren’t guaranteed to be successful. In their haste to launch a new product and start making money, many small businesses fail to invest in the appropriate distribution and marketing setups, which are arguably more important than the product itself. Sure, customers will always be interested in great products and services, but only if they’re distributed and supplied efficiently.
The world is full of pioneering businesses built on brilliant yet simple ideas, and this, though encouraging, can often have a negative impact on fledgeling start-ups trying to compete. But, while it’s great to dream big and come up with new and unique products, doing something first doesn’t always guarantee success. Provided you take your business in a different direction to your competitors, and stay true to your company ethos, there’s no need to worry about offering similar products and services as a rival business.
Every business owner experiences failure at some point, and this is no reflection on their leadership, values or ideas. Even the most successful business leaders must learn how to deal with failure, and this all starts with not seeing every little failure as a negative. Failure, or the ability to learn from failure, is knowledge and experience, which are both essential in the pursuit of business success. Don’t let small failures hamper your business’ vision for the future.
More customers means more money, right? Well, not necessarily. While established businesses have the scope to attain a larger customer base, small businesses may find it more valuable to focus their efforts on keeping their existing customers happy before branching out in search of new consumers. Not only will this improve brand loyalty and increase word-of-mouth recommendations, it will prevent the demand for products and services from outstripping supply — something which could prove detrimental to growing businesses without the appropriate distribution in place.
Learning how to delegate jobs to in-house staff or external freelancers and agencies is arguably one of the steepest learning curves for any small business owner. With the reputation of the business at stake, it can be very difficult for people to let go of the reins and assign key tasks to others. But, if you try to do everything yourself, you’ll quickly come unstuck and the business will fail to grow as it should. Discovering that it’s OK not to do it all is one of the most valuable skills you can learn as the owner of an SME.
While it’s always necessary to listen to and empathise with all customers, the notion that every customer is always right is an outdated business ethos. If every business in the UK operated on this particular policy, it would be difficult for any of them to turn a profit, let alone stay competitive in their industry because not all customers are created equal. It’s important to understand your customers and which of them are most valuable in the long-term so you can focus your attention and investment on delivering what they want and need.
Landing one huge client is a dream win for most small businesses, providing a valuable safety net for the future. However, chasing the big fishes of your consumer base can prove a massive distraction, hampering your chances of securing smaller and potentially more loyal clients and customers. Not only that, but placing your eggs in one basket can be a risky move; it’s often much better to split your assets among a collection of smaller clients, reducing the impact should something go awry.
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