Don’t Badmouth Your Own Business

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“It’s hard to get by.” “The economy is so bad.” “We really need to bring in more sales.” “If things don’t pick up…….”

It’s easy to understand a business owner saying any of that. Cash flow problems and local economic conditions can seem like insurmountable obstacles sometimes. There’s a problem, though. I’ve heard all of those statements from business owners and staff, within fifteen minutes of walking through their door for the first time. I realize I’m expected to cluck in sympathy and join the pity party, but what I really want to say is, “What the hell are you thinking?”

“Negativity” may be a cliche, but…..

I’m not a great believer in “positive thinking”, or “creative visualization”, or “wishing will make it so”. I’m more inclined to say, “grow up and get on with it.” That doesn’t mean I don’t see wallowing in negativity as a bad idea. The more you talk about how awful things are, the less time you have to think of ways to make them better. All that gloom and doom isn’t going to help your own attitude. You may find yourself so busy talking about your problems to anyone who’ll listen that you’ll miss opportunities for improvement.

Don’t encourage rumors

Let’s say you’ve spent a lovely fifteen minutes discussing the sorry state of your bottom line with a new customer. Well, not really a customer. You were sobbing over your lack of customers, so you didn’t bother to sell him anything. What happens next? You don’t know. He might spread the word that your going out of business sale will start in two weeks. You have no control over how people will interpret your negative comments or how far the resulting rumors will spread.

You don’t have to “let it all hang out”

We live in a time where openness and honesty are valued, but there are limits. Reticence and discretion are still silently appreciated. In general, people have limited patience with sob stories. A lament about your fragile bottom line won’t encourage everyone to help out by emptying your shelves in a massive buying spree. They’re more likely to write you off as hopeless and walk away, or at least wait to snap up bargains at that going out of business sale.

Never underestimate how much giving the impression that your business is struggling, or in trouble, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you really have to discuss your financial troubles or whine about the economy, it might be a good idea to do it at home. Your business is a place where you should be working at solving problems, not making them worse.

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