Small business owners get 10 worst pieces of advice all the time. People love throwing their two cents in and it’s no different when you tell people you own a small business.
You may have heard people tell you how they grew up in the family business, how their nephew did a summer course in digital marketing, or even that they watch shark tank and consequently have the knowledge to advise on how you should run your business.
As you are no doubt aware, you should be pretty skeptical of their claims and instead, read up online from reputable sources that speak about what are the best ways to grow your business. While you can unquestionably gain some valuable insights from listening to others, it’s vital to take most words of wisdom with a grain of salt. Why? Because what may have worked for someone else’s business may not necessarily apply to your position. Besides, some advice is just…downright bad.
The thing you need to focus on when you’re starting is short-term wins because playing any sort of long-term game too seriously might take your business under before you ever have a chance to establish yourself. That is where this list will prove helpful to debunk some common claims that you may hear along the way and steer you in the right direction of growing your business.
10 Worst Pieces Of Advice Small Business Owners Get All The Time Post Highlights
- Write blogs on your website
- Posting a bunch of social media posts
- Hiring too much staff too early
- Don’t quit your day job
- The Customer is Always Right
- Not ‘wasting time’ checking & learning the accounting books
- It’s All About the Money
- Email Is Dead
- Be everywhere
- You shouldn’t focus on Search Engine Optimization
Write blogs posts on your website: Bad advice 1
Blog posts are indeed the “it” digital marketing vehicle of the moment. But that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that writing posts on your blog are the perfect digital marketing strategy for your small business. The reason why writing posts might NOT be right for you is that you just simply do not have enough time to write all these posts PLUS all the additional things that are supposed to drive readers to your piece of content.
It is extremely time-consuming in keeping up with blog topic ideas, researching what content to include and technical issues can be a big headache. Blogging can be very useful in driving traffic to your site and if you have the time and resources to commit to it – go for it. The reality is however, many small businesses have a small workforce and just don’t have the time or money to spend on writing content for blogs, so it’s best to start off using other methods.
If you have the resources needed to hire an excellent copywriter and teach them a thing or two about SEO, this can be a goldmine in the long term. But in case you don’t have these gold miners, ranking on Google’s first page is no easy feat and won’t come overnight, so your time is best spent elsewhere.
Similar to just mentioned, unless you have the bandwidth needed to go above and beyond on this one and post on social media while interacting on forums, groups, and online get-togethers with your community, you’re most likely barking up the wrong tree.
Instead, utilize one or two platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and focus on regularly posting engaging, appealing, and relevant content for your target audience. This is far better than going gung-ho and creating social media accounts across many platforms, leaving you the nuisance of having to manage them all simultaneously. You will receive greater results from managing well, a smaller amount of social media accounts, than managing poorly many social media accounts; it is a case of quality over quantity.
Hiring too much staff too early: Bad advice 3
This is a common suggestion you may hear – that you should hire staff to take the workload off you.
The cash is starting to roll in, and your small business’s future looks bright – maybe it’s the perfect time to hire some new employees? Wait, wait, wait. If you hire too early, you may not just bring yourself cash-flow problems, but the added stress of management as well. If you hire employees too soon, then you have to let them go, you have just wasted all that time and money in training them up, which is a mistake some small businesses may not be able to recover from.
Take the time to be strategic and cautious, and be honest with yourself in knowing when to hire. Keeping track of your growth and your future goals can help you in determining the best time to hire.
Don’t quit your day job: Bad advice 4
Just as this heading reads ‘don’t quit your day job’, it could also easily say ‘quit your day job’. As previously mentioned, what works for one person’s business may not necessarily work for you. There is no set time frame or one size fits all recommendation to follow and no-one can tell you when you should or shouldn’t quit your day job, however, timing can be everything. If you are just starting on your new venture and track positive growth for your business for consecutive months, don’t quit your job on a whim. However, you also don’t want to inhibit your growth potential by not giving your venture the time it needs to scale up.
When contemplating whether to quit your day job, you should ask yourself whether you have enough money to support yourself while your business takes off if your business model is profitable and scalable, can you cover expenses and are you truly ready to tackle the challenges, late nights and highs, and lows of running your company full time.
The Customer is Always Right: Bad advice 5
This famous saying is supposed to encourage you as a business and your employees to work hard to provide your customers with the best product or service possible. And while customers and their opinions are generally significant to the overall success of your businesses, they’re not always right.
If you’re changing your offerings each time a customer makes a demand or you’re continually giving discounts, I’m afraid you could be hurting your brand as well as your bottom line. People associate the price of something to its quality, if you are constantly reducing the price of your products based on your customers’ demands, it may damage your image and your perceived quality.
6. Don’t “waste time” checking & learning the accounting books (terrible advice!)
You may hear this one quite often, where people see accounting as something that they don’t need to check because they have somebody doing their books for them. But then…how do you ever know if the decisions you’re making are the right ones?
When do you make a new hire? When is the right time to run advertising campaigns and how much can you discount your products? Exactly…READ THOSE STATEMENTS!
7. It’s All About the Money
Not necessarily true. It’s unfortunate, but way too many business owners prioritize money over ethics, service, and integrity. Your main goal should be providing exceptional service, and ensuring customers are satisfied with your product or service, am I right?
Making money should take a back seat to the importance of serving customers. This isn’t to say not to focus on your cash flows, you absolutely should. But by prioritizing delivering outstanding customer service and providing a great customer experience, will increase your loyal and repeat customers who are much more likely to recommend your brand to others.
8. Email is dead
Nobody uses email anymore. W r o n g.
Please don’t let anybody tell you this silly piece of advice. Email is still one of the best ways to reach out to your existing and potential customers and can be done by yourself, or for efficiency and better ROI, you can hire an email marketing agency.
Email marketing can earn you a potential ROI of 4400% and remains one of the best and easiest ways to communicate and engage with your customers. While you may hear advice that you should ditch email advertising and focus on social media, the engagement rate for social media lies at 0.58% while an email average open rate is 22.86%.
Being a small business, there isn’t always time for routine tasks involved with email marketing. A professional form builder tool can take the pressure off you by automating your emails such as sending welcome emails and purchase confirmations by integrating with messaging apps.
9. Be Everywhere
Countless folks are going to give you advice about using YouTube, or maybe Pinterest, advertising on Google, attending this and that networking event, getting on Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Stop. Trying to be everywhere will be a waste of time. Choosing a particular social network or selecting a magazine to advertise in just because it worked well for somebody else’s business wouldn’t be the best possible advice. You need to be wherever your customers are. Not mine, not theirs, but only your own.
Spend time in running some tests and identify what works best for you, where your customers are, and be laser-focused on that one venue until you can afford to outgrow it.
10. You shouldn’t focus on Search Engine Optimization. Or should you..?
Whoever gave you this advice has forgotten about the power of organic search, probably because they prefer to invest in a paid activity that brings short term results. Are they wrong? No. Are you? Heck no. Organic traffic sources are a more valuable traffic source as it directs the highest amount of traffic and indicates your content is of high quality.
The biggest problem here is that SEO is something that takes at least 4-6 months to get the ball rolling in the right direction to start generating traffic. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it, since it’s THE main method to get traffic to your website in a sustainable way. It just means that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in this basket, so if you don’t have enough time, SEO should be lower down the priority list until you can afford to hire an agency or a marketer.
At the end of the day, the most important advice you should be listening to is your own (after you do thorough research). Only you and your associates truly know the means and goals of your small business. Blindly following people’s advice instead of listening to your instincts is what can get you into trouble. Sure, coaching and guidance can sometimes be very helpful to get you where you desire to go, but remember, only you know what’s best for you.
Tegan Tedd is a content marketer at Paperform. She loves writing about marketing, technology, and workplace productivity.