Worst practices in business: Who DOES that? (Maybe you?)

You’ve heard of business best practices, of course. They are the subject of books, articles and seminars nearly every day.


Far less often do people talk about the all-too-common everyday worst practices that can annoy your customers and vendors, slow your progress, squander your opportunities, and eventually, lead to serious harm or failure for your small business. You may have experienced many of these either from the customer or vendor side.


But who on earth would routinely behave in ways that could have such a negative impact on their business’ short- and long-term wellbeing? In fact, these everyday “worst practices” are surprisingly common:


• Fail to provide project or delivery updates when your customer requests them


• Turn in projects late or incomplete


• Over-promise, then under-deliver – and deliver when it’s too late for the customer to request changes


• Cut corners in quality and refuse to make good when requested to do so (or at best make good reluctantly)


• Don’t return phone calls or respond to emails from business associates in a timely manner


• Don’t show up when you say you will; make them wait


• Forget you asked for a meeting at your office, and be out at another meeting when your guests arrive


• Take the attitude that if they want your business, vendors should be available to answer your calls 24/7, holidays, weekends and late nights included


• Argue about price, even if the price you’ve been given seems fair (you can always save a little more, right?)


• Demand that vendors rush to do your work – every time


• Then, don’t pay the vendors for a long time – and make them inquire repeatedly about payment


• Lose your vendors’ invoices – every time, if possible


• Refuse to track your time, expenses, sales, and work product, and then blame everyone around you for poor profits


• Insist that you’ve “always done it this way”


• Think of business as a “zero-sum-game” – one person wins and the other must lose


• Demand that a vendor give you a flat project fee and then keep changing the project parameters once work starts


• Fail to hold up your part of an agreement with a vendor by consistently getting approvals back to them late, then blame them when they miss the project’s final deadline


• Assume that everybody else does business just the way that you do, and that you can go on this way indefinitely


In fact, you can get away with some of this for some period of time. One day, however, your customers may wander away, your vendors fail to jump to attention, your employees bail, and your profits vanish. 


Before that happens, if you have an inkling that some of this sounds just a little like you, keep this list handy, and cross off each behavior as you eliminate it from your own everyday practices. 




Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Michelle is generally on time and strives to over-deliver.

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