Businesses have gotten a bad rap because of a generalized understanding of how the business community works and stereotypes about evil corporations being applied to all modern business practices. In this article, we will explore the top nine misconceptions about business and how companies today are doing everything they can to break down these poorly conceived notions of how they work and do their work.
- You have to be heartless. The mythological ruthless CEO who will stop at nothing to expand her business, including alienating her family, her employees, her clients and her competitions is a thing of the past. These days, people are interested in the morals on which a business is built. Is your business involved in community work? Do they contribute to a vibrant, non-profit culture in their neighbourhood? Do the goods and services they provide benefit society for the better in some way? These are all things the modern, tech-savvy consumer takes into account when making purchasing and service decisions about where to put their support and dollars. The heartless corporations that remain are the ones that have gotten too big to take down, but for start-ups, attention to community and moral integrity are the way of the future. As they should be.
- Money and profits are always the bottom line. The best businesses are those that are interested in providing people with goods and services that better society as a whole –whether it be terms of information, health, fitness, quality food, environmentally-friendly and ethic products, artisan products or other noble efforts. Business owners that are passionate about what they do for the sake of doing it are much more likely to experience the success that allows them to continue and flourish in their business practices.
- Output is more important than your staff’s needs. The companies that cut corners on the health benefits, livable wages and ideal working environments of their staff are increasingly falling out of favour with consumer audiences. More and more people are dissatisfied with their work and unhappy in their lifestyles. Career changes are a commonplace occurrence these days, even after years of investment in employees in the form of training. A healthy, happy, exercised, celebrated staff member is much more likely to take ownership of their work and their position in your company, benefitting the company and its clients in the end anyway. Better to invest in the health and happiness of your staff and reap the benefits of being satisfied that you are not only doing what is right for them, but also what is right for your business and society at large as well.
- Bigger is better. Companies that are obsessed with their growth into large-scale corporations aren’t always aware of the sacrifices that come from giving up small and medium-sized business practices. More of a corporate feel makes their company less friendly and approachable, but more importantly, it makes your company less flexible to adapt to the changing markets on a whim. Filtering everything through large-scale boards or committees and/or having to do the legwork required to alter simple company procedures can be a pain. In the mix, the personal nature of a company is lost. Bigger companies are less likely to support local artists, entrepreneurs and innovators in their communities and they tend to overlook the small stuff of value to smaller businesses: getting to know their clients intimately, being cornerstones of their community and serving the neighbourhoods they come from.
- Business and environmentalism are opposing ideas. This is definitely becoming a thing of the past. Any business worth their weight is going green these days, whether that means in-house recycling programs, going paperless, using Green-certified materials, investing in tree-planting program or any of the innumerable ways that companies can reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. One of the first things that prospective clients ask, regardless of the industry, is what measures businesses are taking to help with the environment to protect their legacy for generations to come.
- Business-owners are workaholics. While it is true that business owners sometimes don’t know when to slow down or might be particularly passionate, it is not always true that they don’t have downtime or sacrifice time with their family to run their business. These days, business owners recognize that the best leaders are those who help their team and delegate according to the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. A boss who does it all might seem ideal but in reality, it means that the business sinks or swims depending on them alone, which is never a good business model.
- Marketing is a waste of money and time. How many times have I heard that marketing managers sit around doing nothing, wasting company money and time? While that may be true for marketing managers you know, that technically shouldn’t be the case and it usually isn’t. While marketing departments might seem like a lot of investment for an immeasurable or undetectable return, don’t underestimate the power of social media, traditional advertising and other techniques for brand recognition. Even though you might not respond to or access those marketing mechanisms, it doesn’t mean that others don’t. Many studies (internal or otherwise) show that clients do respond to techniques that were purposefully applied by marketing departments, resulting in business for that particular company.
- Working longer and harder is more efficient. Those who work the hardest and the longest might be wasting a lot of time. In fact, recent scientific studies are throwing the entire 8 hour work day into question because it seems to undermine productivity, thus wasting company time. People with specific tasks to complete will often stretch out the time it takes to complete those tasks in order to “fill their day”, rather than taking the appropriate amount of time to finish their work. As well, longer work days require more breaks – usually one hour total for an eight hour day, divided or not – and the time surrounding these breaks tends to be highly unproductive as people wait for the break, take the break and then take a long time to get back to actual work when they return. Recently light has been shed on how crucial stay-at-home moms are for the job market because they are often engaging in a creative, entrepreneurial spirit in order to work from home and their time is highly limited, meaning that they have to work more efficiently than the average office worker to get their jobs completed while still taking care of their homes and families.
- Outsourcing is an ideal business practice. Gone are the days of prioritizing cheap work in foreign countries as a way to save a buck. Real business owners are realizing that employing people in their communities injects money back into the local economy which keeps them in business longer. Additionally, supporting local artisans and innovators is the latest fashionable business practice and with good reason, some of the best talent is found close to home.