Written by: Brian Weinberg Do you know you should get your oil changed every three months? Of course! And drink two liters of water every day? DUH! Oh, and look both ways before crossing a street. What? Do you think I’m stupid? These pieces of advice are used so frequently, it would be an understatement to say they’ve entered the “Common Sense” category. And yet, how many of us are dehydrated on a regular basis or have waited just a little too long to take our car in…?By definition, if something is “Common Sense,” it should be universally accepted as truth and adhered to on a regular basis—perhaps without even thinking about it. And maybe that’s where the problem lies: We assume that it’s so blatantly obvious that it would either a) be a waste of time to discuss it or b) we’d be insulting someone’s intelligence by saying it aloud. But, you already know what they say about assuming… right? Because it’s “common sense.” Well, since the whole point is that perhaps all common sense has been thrown to the wayside and forgotten after years of assuming “everyone already knows that,” let’s reiterate for good measure: When you “assume” you make an A** out of U and ME.So, let’s forgo all assumptions and take a look at some “Common Sense” business practices and see if you’re applying them to your business model.
8 “Common Sense” Business Tips:
Understand your Goals
Sure, it seems obvious that you
would understand any goal that you’ve
set… but sometimes we forget to analyze the steps that come into play between the start and finish. How are you going to get from point A to point B? Do you fully understand the whole scope of the goal you’ve set?It’s imperative that you consider your resources, risks, market analysis, and competition. Can you answer the questions: How is your company is different? And why should customers care?Additionally, goals related to profit or growth can change radically based on the phase of progress, environment, or economy. Marketing programs vary in cost and impact and, while testing alternatives is a great strategy, it’s crucial to focus on the priorities that you can execute efficiently and that have the most potential.
Be in Love with What You Do
Starting and running a business is an all-encompassing job. Most business owners never really leave work—they’re “on the clock” 24/7. So, while the statement “follow your passion” sounds like good advice for living a fulfilled life—it’s also a bit of a warning: If you aren’t doing what you love, you may burn out quickly. But, if you’re building a business that you’re excited about, it’ll be easier to push through the tough challenges. Passion is a proven factor for success.
Be Crazy Enough to Change
It’s been said that the only thing you can rely on is change. An unwillingness to adapt is a recipe for failure for businesses and people alike. Change is inevitable—whether it’s adopting new technology, recognizing that your target audience is shifting, or accepting that you aren’t as young as you once were—nothing stays the same forever and, therefore, we must constantly consider various alternatives, goals and methods.Be sure to give emerging trends more than just a passing thought. Ignoring market shifts may cause you to miss out on an opportunity. Issues like the me-too movement, the environment, and social justice aren’t going away and should be critical considerations when evaluating your organizational practices. Also noteworthy is the complete restructuring of corporate echelons, which is heralding a dramatic shift from hierarchical systems to organizations where participants at all levels have more input and power. You can maintain a critical eye; just keep them open so you see what’s on the horizon.
Take More Risks
Of course it’s easier said than done because of that pesky thing called fear, but getting out of your comfort zone is where the biggest growth happens.Companies are often slow to realize that jumping at opportunity is usually more beneficial to business than hold back. We currently live in era of low interest rates, low inflation, and reasonable growth. So, chances are, you’re looking at much better investment opportunities than in recent years. Resist the urge to overthink your choices. Take the leap—you can always adjust along the way, if necessary.
Beware of Confirmation Bias
We all think our own ideas are terrific. It’s just human nature. This bias often results in the oversight of challenges that may accompany our ideas.A popular example of this unbalanced perception of expectations is when a business owner says, “We have no competition.” Believing that no one else out there is doing what you do is simply naïve. People were getting along before you entered the market and, chances are, they’d continue to survive without you. Every business has a competitor of some sort—even if it’s simply competing for the time and money of your customer. Don’t let yourself be caught blindsided by ignoring criticism or refusing to entertain alternative ideas.
Have a Business Plan
Do you have a strategy for when and how you plan to be profitable? You’d be surprised by how many people neglect to implement a business plan. But, it’s clear that a lack of planning exists when you consider that only about 10% of small businesses succeed and survive to their fifth year. The ones who do survive developed flexible models to measure and then compared alternatives.If you want to establish a long-term business model, ask yourself: Do you have the expertise and excellence to support and justify your programs? Do you have the resources to survive the “slower than expected” startup? Are you ready to pounce when the business needs to expand?
No matter the size of your business, understand the risk and uncertainty of your decisions. Statistically, successful startups have a healthy balance of excitement, an understanding of risk, and a backup plan.Related: Why You Might Not Be Getting New Business The Easy Way
Know Your Customer
Are there really people who don’t know their customer base? You think it’s common sense, of course, but many people assume they know their clientele and then fail to recognize when that customer base changes, grows, or ceases to exist.For example, the “over 50” age group is a huge market as baby boomers enter their retirement years. Over 2/3 of U.S population growth will be among those over 65 in the next decade. This creates a dual path for businesses—are you either targeting the “young and hip” or the “old and grumpy.” Additionally, if your business targets young people, are you going to shift and continue marketing to that group? Or are you going to continue attempting to attract a yougner crowd whose interests and ideals are different than the previous generations’? In either case, your customer base is or will be changing and that will require new strategies.
Some may argue that this is the secret to life. If we can find more ways to incorporate fun and reduce stress, our overall happiness increases which, in turn, improves our quality of life.Remember, you started your business because you had a passion. Don’t lose that. If you’re truly happy doing what you’re doing, that will come across in your work and your customers will want to buy into it. They will feed off of your excitement! Owning your own business
provides you the opportunity to try new things. Life is short—take risks and let loose now and then. It might be common sense, but I’ll tell you anyway: the only person stopping you is you.Want some one-on-one time with a business guru who’s been there, done that? I’d love to speak with you about prioritizing and executing some “common sense.”