Supporting your small business success: What not to do in 2012

Last week someone tweeted a link on Twitter to an article I just HAD to read immediately. It was entitled “Five Things You Should Stop Doing in 2012,” written by strategy consultant Dorie Clark for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. As I read her list of five behaviors she recommends ditching, I found myself saying “Amen” after each one. I’m sure they’ll ring true for you too. After all, who among us as not been guilty of #5: “Making things more complicated than they should be.”

I love the idea of reflecting back at this time of year and identifying behaviors we’ve practiced in 2011 that didn’t prove to be helpful. So with credit to Ms. Clark, I’d like to recommend six more things that small business owners should NOT continue do in 2012.

#1 Beat a dead horse. Over the course of our careers, we all have come up with ideas that we just loved but no one else cared about. But no matter how little success we have in pushing these ideas – or new products or services – forward, we just can’t let go. Well, make 2012 the year you DO let go. You built it and they did not come. This happens all the time; no one is a winner all the time. There is no shame in accepting defeat. Learn what you can from the experience and move on.

#2 Let the times define you. Okay, so the economy has been a bummer for some time now. But are you just going to sit there and continue to take it or are you going to fight back? I’m a strong believer that attitude is half the battle. If you spend your time dwelling on the negative, you’re limiting your vision of what could be. Don’t let that happen to you in 2012.

#3: Fail to take time to reflect. The end of the year is always a good time to think back and reflect on what worked for your business over the past year, but the holidays are such a busy time that few people take time to actually do that. So we just jump headlong in the next year without determining whether there are things we should consider doing differently. But as the saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results. The world will not stop if you take a few hours to reflect back on how 2011 went and what you might do differently in 2012 to produce better results. Posts from earlier in the year by Laurie Breitner and Karen Utgoff on getting in touch with your business’ strengths and weaknesses (S and W) and spotting opportunities and threats (O and T) are good starting points for this reflection.

#4: Fall behind in key business developments. Are you a luddite? I am frequently surprised at the number of otherwise intelligent business people who know almost nothing about developments in fields such as social media and are downright proud of it. “Twitter…schmitter, Who needs that? It’s just a fad,” they say. If only they knew how wrong they were.

If the whole world is talking about a new business tool, perhaps you should at least take time to look it up on Wikipedia and become conversant about it so you don’t embarrass yourself with dumb statements…or much more importantly, miss out on a great new tool for raising your business profile.

#5: Waste hours (or even days) doing something that should be left to the professionals. I wish I had a hundred bucks for every small business owner I’ve known who decides they can design and write their own website. Almost invariably, this produces hours and hours of wasted effort before they realize their folly and hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing. This is just one example that comes my way frequently; I know there are other instances in which small business owners try to do things that should be left to the professionals. Sure, it may cost you more than you want to pay. But how valuable is your time? And wouldn’t it be better spent doing something you actually understand and are good at?

#6: Try to be something other than who you really are. Authenticity matters. So acting like you “think” you should act rather than being who you truly are can be deadly to your business success. As I wrote in “Core values: What rules do you live by in business…and in life?” one of the most important things you can do is to identify the values that drive you and keep them uppermost in mind when dealing with clients, prospective clients, colleagues and others.

When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, people can spot it a mile away. This makes them question whether you’re a good person to do business with. But when your behavior and the persona you project are driven by your core values, people feel comfortable with you and want to do business with you.

I’m sure you can come up with your own list of things to stop doing in 2012 that will help you move your business forward. I would love to hear your ideas. In the meantime, have a great holiday! We’re taking next week off and will be back in January.


  1. Lisbeth Calandrino says:

    This is a great post; you're right, be authentic–be who you are and do what you do!

  2. JeanneYocum says:

    Glad you enjoyed the post! Hope the ideas prove helpful to you in 2012.

  3. Pat says:

    Good summary Jeanne of all the things I need to look at. I need to streamline and focus…always focus… a real challenge for an Aries… but this is a new year!!! and, of course I have high hopes and expectations. 🙂

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