“When you assume you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” – The Odd Couple
We use assumptions all the time in our daily lives and they can be really useful. An assumption or guess when driving keeps us safe and alert. We can make useful assumptions about how people will behave and they can also help us solve problems. You can safely assume that the sun will rise tomorrow and that your kids are going to leave for school at the same time as yesterday.
But there are many cases where guessing at work can lead to misunderstandings and harm communication. Making assumptions is just guessing and often leads to bad decisions, errors and poor staff relations. Try real communication instead and become much more confident. Here are 8 reasons why you should never guess at work.
1. You think you know best.
You may decide that there are certain changes to be made in the office. But have you checked with the people this will affect? If you just guess that these changes are to everyone’s benefit, then you may be sadly wrong. One of the consequences is that this will cause upset and resentment. There may be big changes ahead such as downsizing, reorganization, new IT systems or just simply changing office layout. You assume that these changes are necessary and for everyone’s benefit. If, on the other hand, you decide to consult with your colleagues and ask for their feedback and opinions before making any decision, you will be on much safer ground.Advertising
2. Your assumptions are hindering progress.
You just assume that things are not going to change and you are really cynical. You know the joke about the cynic who voted against starting a Pessimist’s Club because s/he thought it would not work! Cynics are the ones who have really high expectations but will never put in the basic hard work to get anywhere near these goals. These negative assumptions are contagious.
A much better approach is to reflect on what your responsibilities are and to forget about your rights. You should be the catalyst for change and that means taking a much more positive and proactive approach instead of moaning all the time. Thinking and acting on creating a much better work environment is the way forward.
3. You make the wrong conclusions.
If you are under pressure, you may be tempted to take a few short cuts, instead of thinking things through. You may also cut corners in not checking last year’s sales trends thoroughly. Accountants sometimes fail to check figures properly and auditors are likely to find out. You make a few guesses along the way leading to a few wrong conclusions but the job is done and you have met the deadline. The only way to prevent errors which will come back to haunt you is to do all the calculations properly, investigate the facts thoroughly and keep any guesses you might have to make to an absolute minimum.
4. You pay far too much attention to office gossip.
You know the scene. There are emails flying around about which department is going to be cut and how many job losses these may involve. This is how rumours and office gossip start. If you analyze it, you realize that there are 10% of facts coupled with 90% guesswork. Another example is where one insignificant fact is linked to a management decision about firing a person. Maybe the person who was fired overrode the cash register without the supervisor being present. People wrongly assume that the employee was fired for theft! The consequences are that suspicion and time wasting reach unacceptable levels and there is very poor morale in your office.Advertising
If you are a team leader or manager, the best way to avoid all this unproductive activity is to make sure all staff are as fully informed as possible about what is happening. Be upfront about problems and practise an open and fair policy for promotion.
5. You are wrong about your colleague’s intentions.
You may wrongly interpret a colleague’s request to attend a conference instead of her. You start guessing. You are suspicious that she is setting you up for failure and you begin to mull over what may be behind this ploy. In this case, you have made a false assumption about what her real intentions are and this can damage relationships in the office.
It would be much better to ask her why she does not want to attend and what her fears are. She tells you that she is not confident about speaking in public.She feels that you are a better choice and that this is a great opportunity for you. Once this is clear, you will know for sure what she wants to do and why. It is always better to diplomatically ask about the reasons for certain behavior. We will never know the truth unless we ask.
6. You are not a great listener.
There are several consequences here. As you listen and tap and slide your smartphone screen, you start making a few guesses about the other person is trying to tell you. Not hearing a person out or giving them your full attention is a recipe for poor guesswork. Interrupting and dismissing the idea without full discussion is even worse. The solution is to ask probing questions such as why they think an idea might work. This will immediately prevent you from guessing. All too often, we do not ask enough questions and the “I just assumed” tactic can leave a lot of fallout which may be difficult to fix.Advertising
7. You neglect to find out essential information.
Let’s imagine this scenario. You are at a networking event and you are about to approach a prospective client. Unfortunately, he mutters something and leaves abruptly. Now, without finding out by asking any questions in a follow up, you begin to assume that he is not interested in your proposal or that you have done something to offend him. When you do ask, you find that he had to leave because of an urgent message from his office. But asking questions is invaluable when you have to find out if your business partner is happy with how you work together or whether a colleague is still on track for introducing you to a new contact. Failing to find out just feeds your assumptions and wild guessing.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” – Henry Winkler
8. You fall into the trap of stereotyping too much.
If you knew my age, you would probably stop reading this article! Bill Gates is not exactly in the prime of his youth either. Seriously, we make all sorts of assumptions and guesses about people as soon as we meet them. We have categorized people into neat little compartments. So, men are better technicians, women are great cooks, seniors are slow and distracted, and certain minorities are not so well educated.
These assumptions when made with regard to individuals are dangerous and can be harmful. We need to get the facts and accurate information about any person before making an evaluation and later, a decision. This is of enormous importance when interviewing candidates for jobs.Advertising
“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With this just one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz
Featured photo credit: Internal communication panel/Cait Barron via flickr.com
Last Updated on June 1, 2020
How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed
There are thousands of free guides available online on how to start an online business. However, the most valuable lesson they never discuss is that starting a new business online is probably going to fail.
Successful professionals that excel at some point with a venture never gave up, had a passion for creating a meaningful service or product idea, and never stopped trying.
Starting a business is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion to work on something you never get tired of. If people like coming to you for advice or to help them with work-related tasks, then you have the necessary skills and experience to start a business.
In addition, if you have a curiosity about services and products, maybe you have the capacity and capabilities to create something more innovative.
In the next section, we will comprehensively examine the core elements in starting a business. They will not necessarily catapult you to create Google, Facebook, or Apple, but they will guide you on how to start an online business.
1. Remember That the Likelihood of Your Business Failing Is High
Building a product or service is a process that takes a lot of time, so do not think that successful CEOs did it with the snap of their fingers.
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), only 30 percent of businesses will fail in the first two years and 50 percent will probably stay open in the first five years. It is something to think about when launching your online business.
However, this does not mean you should be discouraged, and it’s actually a valuable lesson to fail since it will give you clues on what to do right the next time.
2. Focus on Your Audience and Targeted Niche Market
One of the most difficult things is figuring out who your customers are and tailoring your product or service for them. Depending on your available resources and the size of your network, the scale of your venture will be contingent on this. Knowing your targeted niche is important in knowing how to start an online business.
If you are launching a business, will you go the retail route or create an online store? Will your service satisfy the needs of a startup, small business, enterprise, or corporation? There is no right or wrong answer.
Think about your audience and what the size of your customer base will be. Without knowing your customers, you cannot start a business.
3. Conduct a Lot of Research and Examine the Segment of Your Potential Market
Depending on the sort of business, you will have to do hours of research and ask a lot of questions. It helps a lot to look at specific companies or businesses to get an idea of how they started.
This may be a daunting task for some, and there are other avenues to explore to assist you with building a business. The web has tons of resources and you can check out Fundera’s list of 50 tools to help grow your business.
In addition, you must tap into a reliable business networking list of people to guide you on how to start an online business.
4. Tap Into the Reach of Social Media and Expand Your Message
Gone are the days of paying expensive advertising budgets. Thanks to social channels like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, businesses can advertise for free. On the other hand, you can spend and create marketing campaigns on those different platforms.
Figure out which one is best suited to your needs and where that audience is active. When your online business has figured out where its message has the most impact and when your customers are responding to your message, then you know you are in the right place.
5. Network With Influencers and Brand Your Company on an Optimized Blog
Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees, you may need to consider networking in the initial phases. If you want to know how to start an online business, then you should also learn how to network with influencers.
Social media is a valuable tool, and you can reach out to brand influencers depending on the line of products or services you wish to promote. Gone are the days of just putting an advertisement campaign and expecting a big return. Instead, you now have to create partnerships and blog about your branded efforts.
Make sure you have an optimized blog with search engine optimization (SEO) tools built-in, so you can focus on attracting customers and followers.
6. Create a Monetization Plan Tailored to Your Products and Services
Whether you are a startup, small business, enterprise, or a large company, you have to be strategic with your company efforts. Do you have an omni-channel strategy in place to attract clients and potential business?
In other words, you must have the integration with your site and selected social media channels to generate revenue from products or services.
Believe it or not, not having a clear investment plan on how you will generate business is one factor often overlooked by starting businesses. The technology is there and depending on your institutional resources, you will have to look at a couple of vendors to see which one gets you the best value for your company.
7. Monitor Your Progress and Schedule Meetings Weekly
When your business is live online, you need to monitor progress. You must look at your data, key performance indicators (KPIs), and financials to see how your company is progressing over time.
This is a very different mindset when you are in a large company, but an average-sized online business has to do housekeeping procedures. The products or services advertised online are just one part of the equation.
Are you attracting customers? Are your interactions with clients translating to transactions or conversion?
These questions can only be answered by looking at your data and financial statements. When you can compare both, you will have an excellent understanding of the current state of affairs.
8. Once You Have Refined Your Online Product or Service, Officially Launch Your Business
Once you have more or less found the online product or service to serve customers, you are ready for prime time.
As long as your monetization plan lines up carefully with your investment, you can go live with your business. This can be in the form of an official announcement via your site, hosting a live event, or reaching out to media outlets to plug your company launch.
There is no right or wrong way to go about his process. But make sure that the state of the company propels you to launch the online service or product.
9. Once Your Business is Growing, Retain Customers and Attract New Ones
Having customers at the beginning is crucial for an online business. In fact, it is important for any business period.
For the customers who have decided to adopt or buy your service, make sure you are delivering above and beyond customer service. They will not only continue to buy services, but they will also likely recommend your service to others. So, go the extra mile to thank them for their business.
If possible, develop perks programs and giveaways since customers enjoy the red carpet and celebrity treatment.
10. Use Social Media Networks Ethically and Steer Away From Shady Business Practices
It is tempting to use several social media platforms and buy fake followers. The problem is if the business is a lot bigger than it seems, it will come back to haunt you.
There is nothing more embarrassing or outright unprofessional than having thousands of followers who never interact with the posts you share. Unfortunately, social media has lost credibility when it comes to building fake followers and fake news. So, do not fall in the trap of trying to grow your brand artificially.
Aim for organic followers. This means having real customers following you and engaging your brand in authentic ways.
11. Continue Tracking the Results of the Business
Meetings are essential to tracking the state of affairs and the state of your staff. These meetings should also include tracking the performance as a result of your online business (product or service).
Are the results positive? Are they negative? Are they producing productive results?
Analytics is vital to understanding how the business is performing, so make sure you can get a snapshot of where you are at. Successful businesses cover their tracks and that includes looking at the bottom line performance of their product or service.
12. Utilize Search Engines to Attract Targeted Customers to Your Site
There are advertising systems and price tiers for the different social networks, but search engines like Google and Bing are still important.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is offered in tiers through the Google search engine and Microsoft’s search engine Bing. This remains one of the simplest and most effective ways to generate traffic to a brand new site.
As reported by Entrepreneur, the PPC offers two advantages. One advantage is that PPC ads show up on the search pages right away. The second one is it allows you as a business to test different keywords including headlines, prices, and selling approaches.
13. Provide Expert Advice and Testimony Through Different Mediums
It can be challenging to get brand visibility when you are a brand business. However, if you have some significant knowledge and expertise in your company product or service, you should offer insight. This means you can publish a blog post with powerful visuals, an infographic, a webinar, a YouTube video, etc.
The idea is to plug your service but make it an interesting testimony that tells a story. It is not enough to tell the story of your product, but you have to connect with popular culture if possible.
Be creative and take risks because that may be the difference between success and failure.
14. An Online Business Cannot Succeed Without Effective Email Marketing Strategies
When you are compiling customer data, one of the most valuable pieces of information is a phone number and particularly an email address.
With an email, you can build an opt-in list. This list allows you to create newsletters or announcements to be sent to their inbox for exclusive offers.
You can set up a provider or a third party to analyze customer interactions with your email offers. What it will provide your business is cost opportunity and it is cheaper than print, TV, or radio.
After you have found your calling in building a product or service, start putting the building stones to create your service and product. It needs to solve a problem that no other business offers. If you are about solving problems, an online business is a right venture for you.
Launching an online business is a complicated undertaking, so do not expect instant results. Building a successful online business takes time, investing money, and developing a service that makes a profit.
Finally, make sure you have the available resources and a reliable team that will accompany you throughout your journey. They need to be loyal and have to bring something unique to your big idea.
Take risks and fail early because these experiences are the foundations for launching a successful company.
More Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
- 10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business
- How to Start a Small Business with Little to No Money
- How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)
Featured photo credit: Olu Eletu via unsplash.com
|||^||Fit Small Business: Small Business Failure Rates: Why All The Stats Have It Wrong|
|||^||Fundera: 50 Free Tools to Help Grow Your Small Business|
|||^||Entrepreneur: How to Start a Business Online|