By MJ Plaster
In Part One, we looked at age-old business and why it doesn’t always (if ever) apply. Be sure to read it before you feast your eyes on the “Gawker version” of what passes for today’s business advice.
“Wisdom” from the Current Age
And now, let’s pick up where we left off.
11. It’s OK to Cheat Your Customers—Just Don’t Get Caught
Cheating takes many forms. One of the things I’ve seen repeatedly is website designers charging for custom websites when they have purchased a cheap template and claimed the work as their own. If you create the template, you can charge whatever you like as long as you’re not selling it as exclusive (one-of-a-kind). The same could be said for those who design custom courses by modifying a few lines from an existing, generic course. People who cheat their customers are no better than common thieves.
Cheating takes place in retail as well. Grocery store olive oil is rarely pure olive oil, yet it is sold as the real thing. Anyone remember the pink slime (fast-food beef) scandal?
12. You’re Too Young / Too Old
Today’s world is full of entrepreneurs, so many so that the business world has coined a term for them—kidpreneurs. Further, many people in their 50s and 60s start successful businesses. One of these entrepreneurs remained as CEO until he died at 107 years old. Don’t let others tell you that you’re not the right age—whatever that is. The right age is when you’re ready and willing.
13. Never Turn Down a Paying Client
Always turn down a paying customer when something doesn’t feel right. If you take the client, you may regret it. You’ll find that there’s more work involved than you thought, the pay is slow, or any number of reasons you should have gone with your initial impression.
14. When You’re Not Selling Enough, Lower Your Prices
Sane people don’t play this insane game. When the tech bubble hit the fan, most technical writers/help authors were dropping their prices by two-thirds. Four friendly competitors held a conference call, and we decided there was no way we were in a race to the bottom, so we raised our prices by one-third. We worked less and made more money than before because we sold our value, not our service. Always sell your value, but make sure you offer value.
15. Do What You Love—NOT!
Today’s traditional wisdom says to go into something with a secure future—not something you love. Is there any secure future other than the death industry? Imagine an embalmer springing out of bed in the morning because he’s “dying” to get to work. I know, “They’re helping people in their time of need, and they make good money.”
There’s so much wrong with, “Don’t do what you love,” that I don’t know where to begin. Certainly, if basket weaving is your love and you have no market for your products, or you can’t produce them fast enough to make a living, you should look elsewhere.
The average person has more than one interest, and one or more of those interests could turn into a viable business—one she would love once it begins to make money. Find something you love, or you could grow to hate your business even if it makes money. Then, you’re stuck in a trap—just like you used to be when you had a job.
When you do what you love, work is play. Figure out a way to play your way to success, or set yourself up for health issues later.
16. Always Be Selling
This is annoying when you’re on the receiving end of the sales pitch. If I know you, and I’m interesting in learning more about your product or service, I’ll ask. If not, please allow me to enjoy the social event or the seminar or whatever. Always be selling only if you don’t mind alienating people.
A related sales tactic is the upsell. When I call my cable company with a tech support problem, particularly if they don’t solve it the first time, I’m not in the mood to buy additional services. Try to upsell me repeatedly, and I’ll think about changing my service. I might even unplug and rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu to bring me the programming I want.
17. The Worst Business Advice I Have Ever Received
Don’t get too close to your clients—they are not your friends. I have always endeavored to remain friendly with my clients, but I don’t confuse them with friends. However, they are more than clients; they are people, and they should be treated accordingly—not kept at some artificial distance. When you know your clients, you have a better chance of anticipating their needs.
18. All-Time Favorite Insane Advice
If you run an online business and you’re a woman, try to disguise that fact online. Use an androgynous name and never refer to yourself with a gender-based pronoun. Seriously? Who thought this up? Someone from the 19th century? A social justice warrior?
19. Get an Office
I can’t begin to count the times I was told to get an office. “It would lend credibility to your businesses, not to mention instill respectability,” I was told. I don’t need either. I was already credible and my businesses were always respectable. Two decades later, I still have a perfectly wonderful office with a 30-second commute. There’s no reason my business needs an office. Some of the people who dropped this pearl of wisdom required an office for self-esteem purposes. The worst thing you can do is create unnecessary overhead.
20. Hire, Hire, HIRE
More sage advice from someone who has probably failed at business! You don’t build a growing concern overnight. Hire based on company growth and projections. If the position conforms to IRS regulations for contractors, consider going that route. When I first considered hiring a few employees, one of my trusted colleagues gave me a very good piece of advice, “Employees equal lawsuits.” I took the advice and have never hired my first employee because everything I need done can be done on a contract basis.
21. Don’t Go Into Business for Yourself
If you believe this prehistoric advice that just won’t die, then you shouldn’t go into business for yourself. Otherwise, ignore this advice.