Continuing on with our list of bad business advice…

15. “Just Copy Your Competition”

“The worst advice I’ve ever received was from an early mentor who told me, ‘You need to act, look and behave exactly like your competition because they already are successful… so why re-invent the wheel?’

After years of trying to be like someone else, I slowly discovered that being yourself and being authentic is the greatest advantage of all.” 

– Derek Devore, Founder of Duvora.

Well, Derek…I disagree with you a bit, there. Yes – of course, you aren’t EXACTLY like your competition so there are going to be some things you do differently. Be real. Be authentic. But… if you are selling the same product/service to the same type of clientele in the same market area, but your Colorado competitor is beating you in sales….they may have struck a gold marketing idea that you need to glom onto, as well.

It’s easy to find out how their succeeding, by the way. Either you or a friend need to act as a typical consumer looking for what it is that they offer. You don’t have to be deceptive, either. Simply get in the mindset of your typical client base (remember that character profile that I suggested you build in detail 2 weeks ago), then get online and google whatever keywords you think they would use to find you or your competitor. Take notes regarding how easy or difficult it is to find them. If your competitor’s website comes up first over yours, jot down a note about reworking your keywords with your web designer. Also, try to remember if you’ve seen their print materials or promo video or social media ads – take notes on that, too. Next, call and tell them you are interested in the product/service that they sell (which is not a lie – if you weren’t interested in it, then you wouldn’t be in the business of selling it yourself, would you?). Take notes on how they answer the phone, the content of their sales spiel, and what their call to action is at the end of the phone conversation. Afterward, look up their reviews on Yelp or just do a google search for reviews (if they have any) to try to help you better understand why people love them or hate them – take notes regarding their strengths and weaknesses based on that.

Now, here’s where the customization comes in. Take all of your notes and use it to shape your own marketing efforts – change your keywords to better suit your demographic and how they search, change your print materials to – not an exact copy – but some of the better ideas you think their print materials have, get a promo video if they have one but you don’t, beef up your social media pages and ads or hire us to do it for you, create your CFB if you haven’t yet and practice that spiel until it sounds more enticing than theirs – practice on a friend, and finally sculpt a really good call to action that is irresistible – offer discounts or freebies or whatever you think might bring them to your door. And use those reviews you found to create a statement to include in your CFB that goes something like “unlike other flower companies in Colorado, we….” Fill that in with something your competition seems to be weaker in than you. DO NOT, however, mention your competitor by name in that statement – it makes you appear weak and desperate for attention….plus it’s a slimy, unethical business move.

Once you’ve created or recreated all of that, you’ll probably start gaining more recognition and more sales, but this will take time, so don’t get anxious if you’re not beating them within a month of these changes. Be patient!

16. “Cut Pay and Your Employees Will Work Harder”

“The worst advice that I’ve ever received as a small business owner came from someone who believed that cutting commissions and compensation was an effective way of motivating his employees.

Within a year, over half of his employees had left, further adding to his problems. Over the past decade, I’ve learned that you really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. When an employee is doing a great job, it’s important that you let them know, and reward them accordingly.”

– Bill Kingston, Owner and CEO of CrazyDog T-shirts.

Very true. You cannot treat your employees like dirt and expect the good ones to stick around. For sure don’t prolong the inevitable – keep on firing bad employees, but if you find good ones, hold on to them and give them raises and bonuses accordingly!

I read something recently about the fact that most employees that quit, didn’t do so because they hated their job…they did it because they hated their employer. Now, don’t get me wrong…you can’t please everyone, nor should you try to. But if you find that your turn-over rate is huge, you might want to re-evaluate your own leadership skills. I know – I’m mean…but you’re a big boy/girl and I’m only speaking the truth in an attempt to get you (and me) to be responsible and stop pointing fingers at everyone and everything else besides ourselves. Do you treat others fairly or do you promote favoritism in the workplace? Do you date any of your employees? (that’s not ok) Do you expect something out of your employees that you have consistently not shown by example, yourself? Do you cut their pay, while yours remains the same?

All of those are good questions to keep in mind if you find your employees or interns bailing on you frequently.

If you’re interested in real business solutions that solve real business problems, check out this page – it’s full of information about how we, as a Colorado-born multimedia company, can offer you video solutions, print solutions, and online solutions to tackle almost any challenge you, as a business owner or manager, have!