Seemingly Good Short-Term Business Decisions Can Have Long-Term Negative Effects

When you are in the early stages of getting a company started and are eager for success, it can be easy to make shortsighted mistakes that ultimately hurt your business

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If you’re like a lot of business owners, when you first started your company, you said yes to just about every job. You bent over backward to win a client. You might have even done things that weren’t in your job description. And what sealed the deal was that you did it all at “too good to be true” prices. 

It felt good to hear all those yeses, and it kept your business afloat in those early days. But what kind of effect did it have long-term? 

When you raised your prices to a place where you could actually be profitable in your work, did you upset those early customers? When you started saying no to jobs that weren’t in your skill set or that were more of a pain than they were worth, did you lose customers? When you made choices that were necessary for business growth, did you face an angry mob?

It’s normal to be so desperate to “make it work” at the start that you hop aboard with every potential customer that comes your way, thinking it’ll at least get you on the road to success and benefit you short-term. But the problem is, many of the decisions we make when we’re desperate to get the business off the ground are the very decisions that keep us from growing to the heights we’re meant to reach. 

It’s why many business owners see growth, begin hiring, and then find their business in a slump and have to downsize again. It’s why we bring on more employees but never get around to rewarding the ones who have been with us through it all. 

When you start out by making exceptions and decisions based on fear, not based on a planthe results can follow you around for years. How do you prevent yourself from making shortsighted mistakes that will have long-term effects on your business? 

No. 1 Identify your ideal customers and say no to the rest.

It sounds counterintuitive to refuse business when money is money. But when you invest time and effort into people who aren’t your ideal customers, they’re almost always more headache than they’re worth. 

They’re the ones who will ask you to do things you don’t do or cut them a deal because they don’t respect or understand what goes into running your business and solving their problems. They’re also the ones who will leave the moment you raise prices, because they never understood your value. 

Say no to those customers. You really don’t want them, and they will never be truly loyal.

No. 2 Perfect your process before you scale.

Scaling seems like the first thing you’d want to do, because more business means more money. But if you scale before you’re ready, you’ll end up losing the customers and employees you invested time and money into. Get the right processes and people in place first.

Figure out what areas of your team need to grow in order to support the new business that will come in. That doesn’t just mean you need more managers or technicians. Sure, you’ll need those to bring in new leads and manage new relationships, but what about the people behind the scenes supporting them?  

If all you ever do is hire more front-line support, then when new business does come in, your company will struggle to provide the high level of service you’ve promised. That means customers will leave because their expectations aren’t being met and employees will burn out because they’re not adequately supported and don’t have the resources to do what’s expected of them.

Before you start hiring more technicians, make sure the people behind the scenes have the resources, processes and support they need to do their jobs.

No. 3 Lose the fear.

The real reason you and every other business owner makes shortsighted decisions is because of fear. You’re afraid you won’t have enough time, money, customers, etc. to make things work. 

But all the fear is doing is making you scramble. It’s making you reach for opportunities you don’t even want and make decisions that don’t actually benefit your business or make sense for where you want to be down the line.

Lose the fear. Run your business from a place of focus and abundance. Don’t hitchhike. Plan your trip. As the business owner, you should have control over your destination. When you know what you’re doing and where you’re going, you can wait for the right opportunity to come along instead of hitching a ride with every opportunity that comes your way. That means you won’t just end up wherever your ride is going — you’ll end up where you set out to be.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They’re also the co-hosts of the "Blue Collar Proud (BCP) Show," a podcast that’s all about having and living the blue-collar dream, and the co-authors of the book Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. They're also co-creators of the award-winning app Closing Commander, which helps contractors close more estimates effortlessly. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit www.facebook.com/sparkmarketerwww.facebook.com/bcpshowwww.facebook.com/groups/bluecollarproudnation or www.facebook.com/closingcommander.



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