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Opinion: 5 things business owners can do but shouldn’t

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Sure, there are a lot of things an owner can do that will lead you to wild success. Just as important, however, are the things you shouldn’t do.

Let the countdown begin to my Top 5 things an owner can do but shouldn’t.

5. Worry about what the other guys say.

The moment you choose to rise above the rest, the rest may not rest until they drag you back down. Ignore your critics. You are aiming to be the best you can be. Other like-minded businesspeople will find you (at Springfield Business Journal functions, BNI meetings and other events) and you can embrace that community.

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” —Elbert Hubbard

4. Be internet illiterate.

Perhaps it’s time to get over your fear of the internet? Sure, email and texting don’t take the place of face-to-face dialogue. However, they document and deliver communications much better than telephone, voicemail or a passing comment made to a distracted listener. And you could get rid of 90% of the paper in your office if you really understood what’s available to you via search engines and websites. No more bragging about your internet illiteracy. Get on the bandwidth bandwagon.

3. Wiggle on prices.

Recently, I tagged along with a wonderful service technician on a ride-along. I noticed his price book had the following columns: regular prices; prices for the few things he may get price complaints about; items that were open to negotiate $75 off the price; after 5 p.m. but before 8 p.m. prices; after 8 p.m. but not on Sunday prices; and Sunday prices. While he had good intentions, the result was confusing. My encouragement: Offer one service fee. Have one column of prices. Simplify your pricing.

Also, don’t drop your price when a customer balks. It makes you look like you were overcharging in the first place. Learn to sell value. Take sales courses. Work on your listening and communication skills. Improve your products and services. Then, charge what you must to cover your expenses and deliver a generous profit to your bottom line.

2. Focus on the bad apples.

Generally, customers are fairly reasonable. Every now and then, you will run into a person who wants to get something for nothing. But how often? If you are tracking this kind of info, you will find that less than 1 out of 100 customers is a bona fide bad apple. Don’t create policy that affects all of your customers to thwart the one or two who have it in for you.

For instance, I don’t recommend testing each cash transaction for counterfeit bills. It might happen. But the ill will caused by dragging that test pen across 20-dollar bills, while your customer watches, is just not worth it.

At some point, someone will do something rotten: like not pay you for agreed-upon work for which you have a signed quote, complain about a problem that isn’t related to your product or bounce a check. Do your best to resolve the upset, including offering a money-back guarantee. Write off the bad check. You don’t have to do business with troublemakers again. Just don’t place a “No Checks” sign at eye level on your storefront door.

1. Whine.

Many folks on this planet are spending their days looking for clean water and a way to stay warm tonight. Two thirds of people worldwide have no, or inadequate, sanitation systems. What on earth do you have to complain about? Just because you can whine, should you? Instead, count your blessings and spread peace, love and hope with the words that come out of your mouth.

“If you do what you should not, you must bear what you would not.” —Benjamin Franklin

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at


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