4 Business Rules You Can Safely Break

by Rachel Hartman on April 8, 2014
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When it comes to certain aspects of running a business, such as withholding employee taxes, it pays to follow the rules. In other areas, however, straying from standard practices might be a smart move.

Here are four business rules you can break — and, in doing so, build a stronger company that is prepared for growth.

1. Avoid nepotism. “One of the biggest, unwritten rules in business is never to hire family members,” notes Nick Whitmore, managing director of ContentWriting.org. Yet bringing in a relative can sometimes be a solid solution.

Whitmore says he enlisted his brother to help with his e-commerce business and got positive results. “It was the first time in a very long time I was able to walk away from the business and take a holiday, with peace of mind knowing he was looking out for my interests and upholding my high standards,” he says.

One of the advantages of hiring a family member: You know your employee well. Another plus: “In most cases, you can trust family members with your life, and they’ll go above and beyond to help you make your business a success,” Whitmore says.

2. Sell to everyone. “Trying to be all things to all customers disappoints those who are not the right fit for your business, while alienating those [who] deserve your best focus,” says entrepreneur, mentor, and blogger Dodie Jacobi.

Instead of viewing everyone as a customer, take time to think about your ideal client. Some of the criteria you list could include a customer who pays on time, fits into your business model, presents possible future opportunities, and is easy to work with.

Once you know who your ideal clients are, focus all proactive marketing on that target audience. “Then as income allows, replace current clients that are not the right fit with ones that are,” Jacobi recommends.

3. Don’t work for free. Handing out too many services or products at no cost isn’t very practical, but giving away a little of your time or a few items may draw new customers. Offering clients a free phone consultation or sample document can help them get a taste of your company and understand what you can do for them.

“Any serious client looking to work with us is always offered one or two pages of content, for free, to get a feel for the quality that we provide,” Whitmore says.

4. Focus on the numbers. Concentrating solely on the money coming in can put you in danger of losing sight of other key factors. “This single focus creates a ‘profit at all costs,’ unsustainable imbalance,” Jacobi says.

Instead, try monitoring three important resources: money, time, and energy. “In addition to watching your financial resources, watch the capacity of your humans’ time and energy,” Jacobi advises.

You may find that you or your employees have more energy for certain tasks at different times of the day. You may also find projects that take up too much time are best outsourced or delegated to others. Maintaining energy levels and making the most of your time can make it easier to keep operations running smoothly.

Rachel Hartman is a writer who frequently covers topics related to small businesses. Her work has appeared in The Costco Connection, Wells Fargo Conversations, Pizza Today, Bankrate.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, CreditCardGuide.com, and many other outlets.

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