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Wellbeing / Business values

Eight common business assumptions

Over the years, I have heard many interesting beliefs that business people hold about themselves and their business. Here are the most common business assumptions I encounter.

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1. “I’m not good at the technical/computer stuff.”

I often hear this from women. There is such ready acceptance of this as a personal shortcoming, when clearly there is a lot of poorly designed technology out there; and good teachers are rare.

Given the pivotal role technology plays in many businesses today, this is a risky and dis-empowering business assumption. Outsourcing to experts does not abrogate you from the need to critically consider each decision. You really do need to know the big picture basics.

2. “I’m not good at the soft stuff.”

I usually hear this from men.

The soft skills – empathy, the confidence to openly engage with another person – are essential to building authentic relationships.

Certain personality disorders aside, every one of us are born with these abilities. Unfortunately, outmoded concepts of masculinity and “business-like” behaviour scare many men into suppressing these skills, because they are seen as “weak”. Thus many go to work as less of a full person.

Relax! It is okay to be more of yourself.

3. “I must be cheap.”

This is the position to take where there is no obvious differentiation. “Cheap = more customers” seems to be incontrovertibly logical.

"I was once told I am too nice for business, while a female entrepreneur friend apparently needed to be more hard nosed."

People, however, are not rational. Cheap is not always the most attractive, nor will you necessarily attract the customers you truly want.

Cheap is seldom sustainable beyond the short term. Every business that has engaged in a price war knows this.

Think beyond price. Get into your customers’ heads and hearts. What would make their lives genuinely easier? How can you offer more value?

4. “Everyone is my customer.”

It is impossible to try and be everyone’s friend. To do so is a sure-fire way to come across as inauthentic and lacking in integrity; not to mention bland and boring.

True and enduring differentiation can only come from connecting your individual personality and passions to your business. The most enduring brands are infused with the personality of their leaders – look at Branson and Virgin.

And no, Virgin does not appeal to everyone.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business values section.

5. “I am not a big business; I can just make do.”

Doing things properly, regardless of the size of your business, is both a desire for improvement and a measure of excellence.

Doing things properly means planning your work and putting systems in place to save you time and reduce errors or waste. It means making an effort to mitigate reasonably foreseeable risks.

The result? More time and less stress!

6. “I must grow my business.”

When I hear this, I always ask “Why?”

Conventional business is obsessed with unfettered growth, where growth means making more money. I have seen business owners work themselves to the ground to pursue such growth, when it may well not be what gives them joy.

As a solopreneur, you can easily extend the definition of growth to include: your skills, your profile, your sphere of influence, your wellbeing, and even the number of times you say “wow” to yourself.

There is nothing wrong with growing your bottom line. As long as you know why and are prepared to pay the price.

7. “I am not good with all the business management details.”

Like “I’m not good with technology”, this business assumption dis-empowers you from taking good care of your business.

I have met some business owners who are so debilitated by this belief that they give up any semblance of management.

As a result, their businesses stumble from one emergency to another. There is no time to do anything else other than fire fight. These businesses never perform beyond mere survival. They seldom do anything new, and are not fun to be around!

8. “I am not business-minded.”

I was once told I am too nice for business, while a female entrepreneur friend apparently needed to be more hard nosed.

Thankfully, notable business thinkers of our time are pointing to a more human, social and authentic way of doing business. Business is the exchange of value between two parties. Anything can be exchanged, and what is valued is not exclusively monetary.

Anyone who has something of value to offer someone can be in business. The non-business-minded may be exactly who we need to reinvigorate business practice.

Does any of the above sound familiar to you? What other business assumptions do you make about yourself and your business?

Zern Liew

helps his clients build beautiful businesses by practically innovating across their Branding, Communications, Processes and Systems.

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