Who’s rules are they anyway?

Creating and running a small business can sometimes be like wading through treacle with both hands tied behind your back …and this is despite the many desires and aspirations of small business owners.

Instead of those positive vibes which often kicked off the business, the small business owner suffers from a lack of enthusiasm, regular bouts of doubt, and a total loss of drive.

So what’s going wrong?

Well, the short answer is often… Someone elses rules.

“You have to do it this way”, “you can’t do that”, “you must adhere to this way of working”

Because when you step back and look at the this thing called “Business” you find it is stuffed full of badly thought out conventions and rules …and the effect can be devastating.

Admittedly, some rules have purpose – but sadly many do not. This means the success of a small business can quickly become stifled, as rules are rarely a great source of motivation.

To demonstrate my point, let’s take a few examples, starting with an easy one…

Example 1: Any decent business must have a nice office or premises

What? …Exactly who came up with this nonsense!!!???

So, you’ve just started your small business and immediately you are dragged down by concrete boots of rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, general upkeep …the list goes on.

But here’s the thing, does someone taking the ‘small business plunge’ for the first time ever wonder do they ACTUALLY NEED that office?

  • What’s wrong with the spare bedroom at home?
  • No spare bedroom? …well how about the spare rooms at your friends or family?
  • No friends? 😉 …well how about your kitchen table?

None of the above need cost you a penny and straight away all of your profits are just that… PROFIT! …rather than rent or money for bills!

There is nothing more demotivating than winning a sale only to see those funds immediately go up in smoke on unnecessary expenses.

Example 2: The customer is always right

Nothing in life is “always” true, and this statement about the customer is an obvious example of this. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying customer service has no place – in fact, I’m saying the exact opposite.

Pandering to the ‘problem customers’ and trying to uphold this ‘always right’ mentality can cause you all manner of hassles. Time, effort and money can be quickly wasted as you try to resolve their unreasonable demands…

And of course, while this is happening you are not spending time with those customers who are the lifeblood of your small business.

Think of it like this: Every time you give a problem customer an over-inflated sense of self-importance something else in your business suffers your good customers have to wait …your family is left in the lurch because you had to work late …your profits are reduced by endless expense and refunds.

But hold on – Who’s business is this?

Did you set out to create a small business which gave you and your loved ones a better life? …or did you do it to become punch-drunk from endless crap from moronic problem customers?

The answer to this is simple – and again seemingly breaks another one of those ‘rules’… FIRE THE PROBLEM CUSTOMER!

Yes, just get rid of them!

Because the result may surprise you…

I have a client who regularly ‘fires clients’ and his business increases as a consequence. He has more time, more money, more energy for those things which are important like GOOD customers, family and friends.

So, yes, the ‘customer is always right’ when you want to make them feel good about doing business with you… BUT… it is only the GOOD customers who should enjoy this luxury… FIRE THE REST!

And now for my favourite…

Example 3: You must have a business plan and this is how it must be done

Now before I begin, I’m not saying all plans are bad! …it’s just that most never do the small business justice, and that’s because of a fundamental flaw which is overlooked because of convention.

What am I talking about? Well…

It is common knowledge that goals and direction are marvellous things in both life and business …however, and rather ironically, most business plans place little or no focus on such things.

To see what I’m saying, just look at a typical template – say, one given to you by the bank or an enterprise agency – and you will see the goals and direction part (aka the Vision / Mission Statement) is often the smallest piece of the template.

…but hold on, surely all the planning material which follows that initial section is BASED on the goals described??

Well, yes!

So when you think about it, such a fleeting thought toward goals is like quickly deciding the end point of a journey, spending lots of time and effort planning every subsequent detail, only to then find when you get there it wasn’t where you REALLY wanted to go in the first place!

Personally, I believe it is this lack of focus on goals and direction which means many business plans NEVER get read.

Or to put it another way – it is ironic how so many small business owners spend ages creating the ‘map’ (aka business plan), but then once complete, never look at it!!!

Rules ARE made to be broken!

Now that’s just three of many nonsense rules and conventions which are forced upon us as small business owners. There are many more – so feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

  • What rules are attempting to crush your success?
  • What have you done about them?
  • What advice can you offer others when wishing to curb the convention and boost the success of their small business?

And while you consider a suitable thought or comment, remember this…

The greatest advances in any area of life have often been found when people are willing to ‘break the rules’ and step out of the confines of the perceived box (of rules).

So anytime you feel that you “should” or “must” do something, take a second to first ask yourself “Does this actually benefit me? What would happen if I didn’t do this?” – and then act accordingly.

The success of your small business may depend on it!