This is not advice you actually want, right? No one wants to know how to screw up their business (or their personal life) but at DLO, we believe that you can learn a lot from failures. In fact, it’s the only way some of our (most beloved) clients learn. And, interestingly enough, the things/ways you can screw up in business are often the same in your person life. Don’t believe it? Take a look below at the most common ways to screw it all up (business-wise) and stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where we discuss ways to screw up personally. (Spoiler alert – the big picture concepts are nearly identical).
This is the best way to screw everything up, especially if you have business partners. Be sure you don’t talk about what each person is bringing to the venture, or how to reflect that in the ownership of the company. If you notice something that seems unfair between the two of you, don’t try to figure out a way to deal with it now. Good with numbers? Take on all the financial work for the company and don’t explain it to your partners. Not good with numbers? Don’t ask your business partner who is to explain things to you. And never fear, even if you find yourself the sole owner of your business, you can still screw things up with a lack of communication. Don’t make your statements of work or services agreement clear, especially about what your work will not include. And don’t explain to the client/customer what you expect from them.
A close second in the race to figure out how best to tank a great idea is a failure to plan. You know the old adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” and you’ve probably also found yourself in situations where you didn’t really plan and things still worked out okay. Wipe that smug grin off your face, though, because sooner or later, if you run a business long enough, not planning will bite you somewhere fairly uncomfortable (hat tip Mallrats, link possibly NSFW with sound). Whether it’s not realizing how long a project might actually take (ending up with a client/customer mess), or not knowing how much you need to put away for taxes at year end (ending up with a financial mess), ignoring things you should plan for is a sure-fire way to screw it all up.
Wait, you should plan but you shouldn’t worry? How? How can these two things go together? Here’s the thing – a little bit of worry is fine, and healthy, and necessary to keep a business running. We’ve had employees at DLO for over two years and I still worry a bit every 10 days because I know payroll is coming up. So some worry is completely fine. The type of worrying that will screw it all up for you or your business is worrying about things you can’t control. What your competitors are doing, what’s going to happen in the market, etc. A handy equation to remember is (No Planning + Lots of Worrying = 100% Change of Screw Up).
Be a Jerk
This is really true for anything, but particularly if your business relies on referrals or is part of a small community/industry (and really, isn’t that everywhere these days? Hello internet, the great equalizer.) If you want to be sure your business does not succeed, be a jerk. Don’t help other people out unless it has an immediate benefit for you, be aggressive and unrelenting in negotiations, only take referrals, never offer them, and be sure to overpromise and underdeliver.
Now that you know some surefire ways to screw your business up, stay tuned and we will help you make sure that your family and personal relationships are JUST as terrible.