We get it. Being a successful entrepreneur can feel like a constant struggle balancing all the aspects of your business. You’re overseeing sales, marketing, finance, strategic planning, human resources, facility maintenance, and other issues that come up from day to day. It is easy to get into the mode of just putting out fires instead of planning for the future. We’ve seen lots of successful companies take a turn for the worst when they start putting those fires before their long term goals.
Here are three things entrepreneurs should never say if they want to achieve real success.
1) “I can’t afford to hire a professional.”
Starting a business from scratch or growing an enterprise with limited resources can plant a seed of frugality. But running a company has been compared to a stool with three legs. Finance representing one leg of the stool, sales and marketing as another leg, and offering a good product or service as the final leg. Most people can be good at one, or maybe two of those. But no one can be good at all three, or at least not simultaneously. The real question every entrepreneur should be asking is “Can I afford NOT to hire a professional?”
If you’re trying to build a brand around exceptional customer service and providing a great product, you won’t have time to juggle marketing deadlines and bank account reconciliations. There are just some aspects of running a business that are worth delegating to a professional. Hiring an accountant can help you avoid costly audits, and similarly hiring a marketing professional can help you maximize your resources to get the most out of each dollar spent to attract new customers.
2) “Business is slow, so let’s trim our marketing budget.”
When your business doesn’t have as much money coming in, it can be tempting to reduce spending on advertising, customer appreciation events, and other marketing strategies. Cutting back in traditional media might buy you some time if you’ve been advertising for years. People won’t forget about you overnight. But on social media, cutting back can kill the traction you’ve been gaining over time. And that negative effect won’t just pop right back when you decide things are looking up again.
A study by advertising Stephen King (not THAT Stephen King) showed without a doubt that companies who scale back during economic downturns do not actually see a benefit on their bottom line. And another similar study shows that reductions in ad spending may have actually hurt companies in the past. Companies who scale back during recession have a hard time gaining back their market share. And alternatively, if others in your industry are scaling back, it can give your business a chance to gain a competitive advantage.
3) “I’ll just have my secretary handle my marketing.”
This one just kills us, because we’ve seen the negative impact that poor execution can have on an otherwise successful business. Your secretary might be the most friendly, organized, and capable person on your team. Some are even extremely creative and can develop a list of amazing ideas for your marketing and client relations initiatives. But unless they are trained in design and social media strategy, they will always miss the mark on quality and consistency.
And on top of that, the stool analogy we referenced above applies the same to your administrative staff. They can’t simultaneously juggle customer service, billing and paperwork, and quality marketing at the same time. One of those balls will drop, and you can’t afford for it to be in the customer service arena. You only get one first impression, and having frazzled and overworked front desk staff will undermine any good marketing that may or may not be executed.
Leon Gorman, well-known American businessman, said that “Customer service is a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity.” If your business wants referrals and a reputation for going above and beyond, it starts on the front line with a hospitality expert. You can’t afford to be turning away potential customers because their first impression was less than impressive.
There are far more than just three things entrepreneurs should never say, but these three are the items that give us the most gray hairs when we hear them from businesses we work with.