5 Things Not To Do When You’re In Business

Here are the top 5 things not to do when you’re running a business:

1. Let your ego run away with you

They say that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  If you’re making $10,000 a month and your business is growing, you feel quite a bit of power.  That can lead to an inflated ego.  If your ego gets too big, you can make some bad business decisions.

So, if you are presented with a problem and you need to come up with a solution, best to put away your ego and evaluate the problem in the full light of day, unclouded by emotions.  If you let your ego or emotions rule your decisions, that can lead to some very bad places.

2. Piss off your only vendor

Ah, sometimes you just want to tell it like it is. Your vendor sucks. They deliver the product when they want to. Sometimes they lose your order. They can demand that you sell their product in certain ways. They can be impossible when you want advertising approval. Ok, they suck and you just want to tell them to go to hell. Then what?  If this is your only vendor and they are the only vendor of a best-selling product, well you have to play the game their way because you have no other choice.  Go out and find a new vendor of the product, or find another great product, but in the mean time the best policy is to be as nice as possible to this one.

3. Piss off your biggest customer

Nothing can put you out of business faster than by losing a customer that makes up more than 50% of your business. The best policy, in fact, is to not piss off any customer because customers are expensive to acquire. I have to admit, sometimes there are situations that you can do nothing about, but if you can do something you should do it.

4. Piss off the people you depend on

Are you busy, I mean really busy?  You need the people that work for you and you should do everything you can for them.  Otherwise, you are going to take on a boatload of new work that you hired them to help you with.  If they are doing a really good job, reward them in some way.  If they are lazy, cut them loose.  But don’t make their life a living hell.  This is not fair for them or you.  You either need them or you don’t, choose.

5. Do other stupid things that lead to expensive mistakes

Mistakes are expensive so decisions are best made methodically rather than hastily.  Sometimes you need to make quick decisions but most of the time you can take a few hours or days to evaluate the situation.  Best to do this than to make a quick decision that costs tons.  Oh, and by the way, cheap goods and services sometimes have high costs, so evaluate well.  Better to pay a few dollars more for quality.

So what would you add to this list?


  • Nice list. A few items to avoid in small business would be:
    1. Don’t neglect accounts recievables – assuming people will pay. Ensure contractual obligations, terms of agreement and payment obligations upfront.
    2. Avoid exhaustion
    3. Neglect marketing
    4. Aviod debt

  • Brian E. Satterlee

    Hi Mick, thank you for your list. Could I respond?

    1. Don’t neglect accounts receivable

    I agree that you should follow up and make sure people pay. How this is approached depends on the kinds of customers you work with… approach should be considered strategically. Most people are honest and will pay, believe it or not. Often people are unable to pay.

    2. Avoid exhaustion

    Totally agree. Check out my article “Burn Out Is A Killer”

    3. Neglect Marketing

    Knowing your customer is extremely important. Marketing is an important part of getting to know your customer and *must* be done prior to a sales campaign. It is a soft discipline though, and small business people often don’t know how to do marketing research and strategy.

    4. Avoid debt

    Being debt free is not always the best way to do business… however, it is a noble goal. Borrowing may be a necessity for equipment or large amounts of inventory, so make sure to analyze your need to borrow to see if it makes sense.

  • Hey Brian thanks for the follow up! I completely agree with your #3. As far as #4 – your point is well taken. Either way is has to be managed…
    Another item I forget to mention was DON’T neglect tax requirements – get an accountant beforehand

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