Business Bad Habits

September 26, 2016

Running your own business is something you’ve dreamed about for years. The moment is here. You have set up shop, you are in full operation and trade seems to be going well.

No doubt you have put your heart and soul into your enterprise. You have gained considerable experience in your field, you have read every business and management book available, and you have done on your homework on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship: adopting industry practices that have been tested and proven to work.

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There is no reason to doubt your talent, intelligence, passion, and dedication. But succeeding in business requires more than energy and cleverness. You must also master the intricacies of human relationships. Little things, details that you may have never considered, can make or break your entrepreneurial venture.

Promising businesspersons of all stripes slip into bad habits that can lead to ruin. Here are 4 of the most common:

1. Talking too much

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The desire to make the pitch and the sell can be overwhelming. When you meet your customers, you go on and on about the utility of your product or the value of your service. You talk about your offerings and your business unceasingly. So much so that you do not see the glazed look in the eyes of the persons you encounter.

The response is not a result of rudeness. It is just that your customers have realized that you are more concerned about the thing you’re selling than you are about meeting their needs. In the end, that is why they have come to you: to get a solution to some problem or difficulty they’ve encountered. And that must be your focus.

If you find yourself babbling about the greatness of your product or service, you need to take a moment. Reset, rewind, and remember why you’re in business: focus on listening to your customers rather than telling about yourself.

2. Badmouthing your competitors

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Keeping your competitive spirit alive is essential. You should always be aware of what your rivals are doing and how they are doing it. But resist the temptation to badmouth them.

You will make no gains by putting down your competitors. No one likes a snake. And that’s how your customers will see you if you go around bashing other businesses.

So, you should avoid starting false rumours, pointing out the setbacks and failures of your rivals, or spreading any other gossip meant to harm or discredit their brand. You should especially watch what you say on social media—such postings have a way of getting around quickly.

3. Poor writing

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Do not think you left good diction, grammar, and style behind when you turned in the last term paper of your academic career. There is a reason why your teachers harped on about such things. They matter in the real world.

Most of your customers are not pedants. Indeed, many of them may have their own issues with using the English language properly. But they will notice mistakes in spelling, word choice, and grammar on your marketing materials, emails, social media postings, and every other medium through which you communicate. You are in the spotlight, which means people will more heavily scrutinize what you say and how you say it.

Being casual about English usage is one of the worst habits you can get into. Your personal and professional communications reflect the standards you hold yourself to. If you are careless about the way you write, people will assume you’re just as careless about other aspects of your business performance. Prospective customers will turn away from you. Current customers will start to doubt you.

The way you write may seem like a little thing, but this minor detail can significantly handicap you.

4. Failure to communicate clearly

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Closely related to the last point is the need to communicate to your customers clearly and consistently. You must be able to speak simply and directly. This doesn’t mean speaking to customers as if they were idiots. People hate condescension above all things. The point is to tell people exactly what you can and are willing to do for them.

You must also show consistency. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. You must communicate in a way that expresses reliability and trustworthiness.

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