I have posted on this topic before, but I find that life just keeps repeating itself. I don't want to say I put on my cranky pants today, I just feel like sometimes (being your elder and all) I need to give you some harsh lessons. If you are an experienced business owner like moi, then this post will you do you no good. However, if you think you may have once or twice (haven't we all?) over-stepped your bounds, read on.
I find the longer I am an entrepreneur and own my own business the shorter my temper is and my ability to entertain idiotic odd requests. These are in no particular order so do not think one holds more importance than another. So if you are new to owning your own business and especially if you are a woman or a Mom, please read this list of things NOT to do:
What Not to Do in Small Business
1. Do not ask someone to borrow their biography/pitch/time line for your own publicity. Do your own work! Write your own biography and figure out what makes you and your company tick. My story.....is MY STORY! You can not use it, because it is mine. You can try, I mean really - it is not hard I have had the story written over twenty times (and no I am not bragging), just do not ask me if you can borrow it....the answer is no.
2. Do not ask someone you do not know for contacts to a buyer, publicists, business owner or Oprah. If you do not know them, you have no repertoire with them. If you think it is okay to ask a total stranger for a contact that probably took them 3 years to get - then you are crazy. Just because you read a blog post about someone does not make them required to share their contacts. For the record, I do not know Dr. Phil personally, and I will not give you his phone number.
3. Do not copy my anyone's artwork or design. I have gone over this for years, it is just wrong. Come up with your own damn design....remember the Cheese it's commerical - get your own box. If all you can do is look at someone else is doing and copy it, you are in the wrong line of work. You are an entrepreneur, go create something amazing.
4. Do not spy on another company's booth at a Trade Show. I mean by all means know what your competition is doing, but do not go up after they left and touch, pick, scrape and tap your competition's products. They are probably watching you do that, and you look pathetic. Take the high road, acknowledge them and then go back to your booth and do what you came there to do - sell products.
5. Do not screw your partners. I believe in KARMA, and I think if you are a business owner and you refuse to pay the company's you work with then you are a big fat meany. Worse yet is if you just up and walk away and leave those poor small companies without being paid - you suck. Word gets around, us small business owners talk - it is not nice to steal from us.
6. Do not take what you have not been given. Do not go and take photographs from some company and throw them all willy-nilly on your website. We will find out. Those photos are copyrighted and we own them. Even though I am confident that you can copy/trace/duplicate any of my designs, that is not the point. You have no right to offer to replicate them - it is against the law....and again not nice.
7. Do not tell one of your sales channels how you are going to copy a competitor. Tsk, tsk, tsk on you. You should be smarter than that now really. All industries talk, and it does not take much to get us to spill the beans. If you are planning on ripping off an idea one of your competitors has pretty much owned the market on, then keep it to yourself. Your competitor will find out.....or she will figure it out. I would actually suggest doing what you do well and minding your own business...but then again what do I know? I have never had that happen to me.
8. Do not lie, be honest. No one likes a liar, and we all know you are lying. Tell it like it is - be honest. If sales are down, own it. If the Economy is kicking your butt - announce it. Nothing ticks me off more than someone blogging, writing or tweeting (barf) how great business is and how the Recession is not affecting them. Really? Okay well if that is the case, and I doubt it - keep it to yourself. When 95% of the country is suffering you should have the gumption to shut up, if you are doing so fabulous that is (and I doubt you are).
9. Do not blog just to get traffic. I have been blogging for a long time, and I do it because I love it. I am not Steinbeck, but I love to write and I felt I had something to share with other like-minded women. If you are just blogging to brag about your accomplishments, announce a new design or because your web designer told you all the "kool kids" are doing it - you suck. Yes, I meant that. Blogging takes hours, it takes time and it takes someone with a huge backbone to blog about their industry and trials and tribulations of their business. And on that note....blogging once every 3 months does NOT get you any more traffic, nor does it make you a writer.
10. Don't Lie or Fake it. I have often written about how I would never let on how small my business was when it was run out of the house. However, I did not lie - I always said, "We are in the studio" and that is where we were. Faking it as an artist, designer or a very successful sales channel does not do anyone any good. You just tend to jeopardize your reputation. People will find out if you are lying about your sales, employees, accounts or where you got your ideas. Liars forget they are lying - remember that.
Okay, did not mean to be so negative....and no the Economy is not picking up. I can honestly say some weeks are good, others are bad and a few are actually horrid. I talk to lots ot people and this is the truth. If you have rent and have employees - you get what I am saying. I may not be saying it eloquently - but I am being honest. So, to quote an old show from when I was a kid (Hill street Blues), "Let's all be careful out there."