I have seen many books and articles on how to create your “successful business.” Many are filled with quaint and pithy sayings that are actually the worst business advice that one can follow.
- “Do what you love.” No, do what you are good at while making a good living. Remember, the goal of a small business is to make a living. Of course, if you hate your job, you will not succeed at it. But, in order to run a successful business, you may not have to love what you are doing, but you must be good at what you do and be able to make a good living while doing it.
- “Work hard and success will come.” Hard work and perseverance are definitely necessary in building a business, but it is more important to “work smart” than to put in long hours and micromanage every aspect of your business. Also, working hard and persevering will not guaranty a successful business if there is no market for your product or service, or if you fail to advertise, maintain proper cash flow, and curb expenses.
- “The customer is always right.” Of course, I always try to avoid disputes with clients and compromise in the event of a disagreement. However, a smart business owner cannot constantly reduce his prices or comply with every demand a customer makes. A successful business owner must obtain a fair price for a good product or service.
- “You have to spend money to make money.” True, you have to invest capital to allow your business to grow. But I have seen many businesses start too big by renting and decorating an office or retail space that is too big, purchasing too much inventory, or hiring too many employees. You do not need to spend a lot to start your business, but you do need to spend wisely.
- “Your business is like your child. Nurture it and it will grow.” Your business is not your child. Your business is a source of making a living and attempting to enjoy what you do 10 hours a day. I have seen many business owners ignore the facts that their businesses are failing because they cannot give up on their dream, or they have invested too much time into their “child.” When some businesses are not successful, there comes a time when you must stop the bleeding, cut your losses, and close your business.
Running your own business can be the most rewarding professional experience. You are your own boss. You set the pace and schedule. You nurture it and grow it. But remember, work hard, but work smart.
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