Not all shortcuts are created equal. Some get you to where you’re heading faster. Some get you there pretty much at the same time. But some shortcuts don’t get you there at all. If you own or manage a business, learning how to recognize the differences between these shortcuts can save you a lot of time, money, work, and pain down the road.
Experience will always be the best teacher, but to help you out, here are a few of the shortcuts you should not take with your business:
Verbal vs. Legal Agreements
Handshakes can get you far, but not as far as ironclad signed paper documents. Even if it’s a simple discussion with friends, leaving it out of paper trails makes it a whisper away from not existing at all. According to Entrepreneur, agreements not on paper are often forgotten or misconstrued. Protect your business by having everything important in writing — no shortcuts.
Mental vs. Actual Notes
Like with agreements, if it’s not on paper, there’s a real chance that it will disappear and not exist altogether. This is especially true for mental notes. You’re probably already doing many things at the same time in your organization; adding a measly mental note about a 30-minute meeting adjustment just won’t register. Take 30 seconds to reach for a pen and post-it and write that note down.
A Greater Good
Fighting for equality, or the environment, or against world hunger are noble causes businesses can align themselves with. However, don’t expect these lofty ideals to save your business from losing revenue. Take care of your sales and operations and marketing first so that you can be in a better position to do good and have a positive impact.
Technical vs. Business Skills
Most people who own or manage businesses have technical skills in that particular industry. That is pretty useful for understanding changes and adopting innovations. However, it’s a bad idea to skip the acquisition of business skills. Just because you’ve worked in a shoe factory for 30 years doesn’t mean you can run one. Find out which side you’re lacking and improve it.
According to Dr. Jesse Green, you should also take this approach with your team. A good combination of technical and business skills will help them do their jobs better.
Meat vs. Presentation
An idea, a product, or a business should have both substance and presentation. The best idea in the world will not move executives if you write it down on a tissue paper. A fantastic product will not sell if its packaging is offensive. At the same time, the most thought out branding strategies cannot save a business if it’s operating poorly.
If you want to ensure the success of your enterprise, excellent presentation and valuable substance should both be present.
The Small Pond
Never underestimate the value of testing your ideas on a smaller scale. It can help give you valuable insights without exposing you to the same amount of risk. This is particularly helpful when you want to try out marketing ideas. This can also help you narrow down your target audience for future tactics. Membership marketing, for example, can let you test out new ideas before going public with them.