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The internet is full of advice – even the best of us can get overwhelmed sometimes. You probably have an endless list of business advice you should be following, but what common pieces of advice can you safely ignore?
Markets are, by their nature, unpredictable. All businesses require an element of risk – particularly if you want to enter a new market or have high expectations of growth. However, a recent trend in business advice seems to position risk as a positive thing, rather than an unavoidable consequence. Having a ‘risk’ mindset can encourage the tendency to look before you leap – making important decisions on ‘gut instinct’ without considering the data available to you. Instead, make sure you balance risk with research.
As Henry Ford famously said ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ Whilst customer research is always useful, sometimes you have to give people things they don’t know they want yet. Apple is the master of this – finding niches in the market that nobody knew existed. This doesn’t mean that you don’t consult your customer – if you’re doing something new, make sure that you test it and gain feedback along the way, before making a large investment in development.
Customer focussed businesses have often voiced frustrations about the damage a negative reviews can do. Whilst the received wisdom is to pacify unhappy customers, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses fighting back. People respond well to seeing a human face behind a brand, and if a review is truly unreasonable there’s little risk to (politely) saying so.
When you own your business, it can be hard to take a step back. You can feel that if you aren’t working 24/7 you aren’t giving it your all. Don’t get caught in the trap of being ‘always on’: even the best of us need downtime. Overwork is linked to a number of health issues, and can negatively affect productivity. Turn off digital devices in the evening, or even take a leaf out of Bill Gate’s book and use a week each year to recharge and reflect.
With 89% of 18-25 year olds active on social media, having a social presence is a must. But don’t pin your hopes on generating easy sales from social networks. Over the past couple of years it’s gotten harder and harder to gain traction on social networks without paying for the privilege. Instead, dedicate a budget to social and use targeted tweets and ads to ensure potential followers see your messages.
What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received? Tell us on Twitter.
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