As an entrepreneur, you have probably been inundated with advice, ranging from sensible to downright nonsensical. Part of becoming a successful small business owner is making good decisions, and some of your most important will include determining whether the person or entity giving you advice is looking out for your best interest, or simply regurgitating what might be old or outdated conventional wisdom. Although some rules are sometimes touted as unbreakable, very few actually are. In some cases, going against common business practices can actually be beneficial to the growth of your company, your bottom line and your overall happiness as a small business owner. The Customer is Always Right Although you may see this sign displayed in hotels, restaurants and other establishments, this rule is often faulty. Sometimes, the customer simply is not right, and to bend over backward to make difficult customers happy can be counterproductive to both your efficacy and your morale. According to Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, as many as 20 percent of your customers may be causing 80 percent of your headaches. As an entrepreneur, you have the right and the responsibility to politely dismiss customers who are costing you money or taking too much of your time — without guilt. Start With a Five Year Plan While conventional wisdom would have the small business owner formulating a five-year business plan before opening shop, this is not necessary, and can sometimes hurt the entrepreneur. You need to be flexible, and not beholden to a plan that may or may not hold up over the long term, particularly this early in the game. You can’t predict what will happen until you roll up your sleeves and start selling your product or service. Spending too much time coming up with a long-term plan in detail only encourages procrastination. A better choice is to sketch out where you’d like to be in the next six months, and to reassess at that point. Don’t Quit Your Day Job This is advice that you are likely to hear from parents, friends and extended family members who truly do not want to see you take risks needlessly. While your financial situation may be that you cannot quit your job on a whim, chances are that you can take some big steps toward self-employment. Scrimp and save to put aside a nest egg large enough to cover six months’ worth of expenses, and take that leap of faith. What’s the worst that could happen? If the worst case scenario involves you returning to your current position, what do you have to lose? In determining whether rule-breaking makes sense, think about whether the rule in question exists simply as a matter of conventional wisdom, or if following it is absolutely necessary for your success. Also, have a plan as to how you’ll get back on track should you get too far off course. Finally, decide how long you are willing to devote to your rule-breaking experiment. In many cases, you will need to try your unconventional plan for at least six months to a year before confirming its success or admitting defeat. Have you broken any conventional rules of business and had good results? Share your experience with our readers!
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