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Why Shortcuts In Business Don’t Always Lead To Quick Money

It’s practically impossible for anyone who spends a significant amount of time online not to see those ads promising to make you an instant social media star. “Buy thousands of Twitter followers!” “Get 1000 Facebook friends fast!” There are even services that promise to push your content to the top of popular social bookmarking sites. In an attempt to “keep up with the Jones” (Internet-style), many have succumbed to such services, but the payoff may not be what they expected.

The Shortcut to Nowhere…

For companies with limited resources to invest in their social media marketing, especially small and home-based businesses, the option to quickly and effortlessly build an online following may be very enticing. After all, if you follow the major marketing trends and are listening to the thought leaders in your industry, there is just more and more that you must do these days in order to make a decent living from your business, let alone be successful at it.

Moreover, if you are operating under difficult economic conditions (and many major economies are struggling these days), then you may be tempted to cut corners, not just in social media, but in other areas of your business.

While seeking to lower expenses and gain legitimate assistance with your social media strategies are valid efforts to stay competitive and profitable, trying to “game the system” or take advantage of your customers’ ignorance is likely to backfire- especially these days. Though there may be a select few who successfully manage to make a profit off shady and unethical business practices, the majority don’t. Here are three reasons why:

1. Once you’re stuck with a bad name it may be hard to shake it.

Unless you can afford to spend a significant amount of time and money on damage control, cheating and dishonesty exposes you and your business to a great deal of risk. One major slip up can lead to a deluge of negative publicity which can spread through a host of social networks like wildfire. Don’t underestimate the power of social media! Remember the prank video made by two Domino’s Pizza workers a couple of years ago? The pizza company’s slow response caused a significant amount of damage to its brand- even though the video was quickly exposed as a fake.

A good reputation, both online and off, have become very valuable assets- especially now when many consumers and business buyers are making more of an effort to get the best deal from reputable, reliable companies.

2. Sincerity and building customer relationships are profitable strategies.

The effect of trust on consumer purchasing has been well-documented by various studies, such as this one conducted at the University of Buffalo, New York. Most small business owners cannot afford to produce a glitzy ad campaign, and even the low-budget, guerrilla-type marketing techniques have their limits. The often quoted advantage of being a small business is its enhanced ability to cultivate and maintain customer relationships (something that can be challenging for bigger companies where personnel and operations tend to be more spread out.) So, don’t risk ruining these valuable assets with questionable business practices.

3. Cheating often covers up other problems that may be hurting your business.

The fact is that those who feel the need to cheat are typically the ones that are running companies riddled with low quality products or services, poor management, and inadequate planning and research. I am a big fan to telling people that not everyone is cut out to be a small business owner. If your business is struggling and you are at a loss for legitimate ways to improve operations or performance, then it’s better to move on to something else rather than trying to cheat your way to perceived profitability.

Bottom line: when it comes to running a business, you must be willing to invest adequate time, money, and effort to make it successful; in business, as in most things in life, there are no shortcuts. Thoughts?

Adam Gottlieb is a small business owner, freelance writer, and small business consultant with over ten years experience helping small and home-based businesses improve their image, increase sales and better manage their resources (both the animate and inanimate ones). You can find him blogging at The Frugal Entrepreneur and Growing Your Business

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  • Hi Adam, this is a great post and a sound warning to companies out there, I would really like to reinforce your points about online and social media. Businesses should be listening hard to what is being said about them online. A common mistake that some make is believingu00a0that if they’re not there, this somehow means that people won’t talk about them. The point is that of course they will, you just won’t have the opportunity to respond and/or protect yourself. Thanks for sharing, Niallu00a0

  • Adam Gottlieb

    Hi Niall,I think many businesses and organizations (and this goes for the big ones as well as the small ones) under-estimate speed with which a message can spread through social media as well as the potential reach.Many companies may also be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that the complaints or criticisms will just go away, and thus are more likely to take risks and cut corners. Moreover, if they get caught or called out then these same companies often either fail to react quick enough or hard enough to stem the tide of negativity being generated online towards their business.Thanks for the comment.nnAdam

  • trevor

    Here is an inside tip of whats going on at the Sears Holding nCorporation. In most of the Kmarts nation wide Appliances are sold at nSears registers and appliance salesmen are commission based. Well as of nJune 12, 2011 Kmart will be eliminating these salesmen jobs. All nappliances will go through kmart registers and no competitor price nmatching will be given to customers. Inventory will take up to two weeksn to replenish. Minimum wage cashiers will sell appliances not real salesn people. Customer will have to call a 1800 number if they want there nappliance delivered. This company is dead. The store my friend works at nhas 4 sales people that each sell over two hundred thousand dollars a nyear in inventory. You should blog about this.

  • Elishbul

    Thank you for the comment Warren, I guess it makes for a handy mnemonic advice , remembering the performance element of live presentations, and breaking it down this way makes it less mysterious or daunting. Yes, I see some elements like storyrelling and humuor working online alright, and conversely we get sucked into so much online promotion we forget the extra human touches required when presenting face to face like eye contact and body language

  • Debi Harper

    Brilliant blog, it actually makes me want to try and give a presentation:) and that comes from someone with the biggest fear of standing in front of any audience. Your approach makes it sound like fun.

  • Elishbul

    Hi Debi- what a gorgeous sentiment! I think the fear of performance dissipates when you approach it with this frame of mind: (apart from being well prepared) that you are about to share some of yourself with others, that it’s not about ego or your fear of what people think about you – it’s about generosity of spirit, what you want to contribute. And yes it becomes fun, and eventually addictive.

  • Super article, Elish and I’m delighted to see you refer to the performing arts sector for tips and inspiration.  It’s always been my opinion that business presentations are just that a performance. Also, great to see you mention improv skills as a necessary tool, I’d add that they can be and should be used in the preparation too. 

  • Hi Niall – Thank you for the comment. Its important to stress Improvisation is a Skill and not = Ad Libbing due to lack of preparation. Quite the contrary, good improvisation demands strong background knowledge AND preparation as a foundation. And it is also important not to think of Performance in this context as being false – Charisma is in fact its about being all the more Present and Genuine  vis a vis the people you are trying win over.
    Elish Bul Godley

  • PaulJohnstone

    Great Blog Elish, I think we are on a similar wave-length I’ve subscribed.  Keep up the good work

  • Elishbul

    Thank you for the comment Paul- nice to know

  • Peter Ellis

    Thanks for the information tips Elish, I have a presentation next wednesday and been modelling it around the “David Brent” methodology :)….Seriously there is some great advice to take from this.

  • I am intrigued and now wish I’ll be a Fly on the wall- Best of Luck! i take it there will be much irony & personality involved! Thanks for the supportive comment.

  • Hi Kiara and welcome to Tweak Your Biz. I can always do with good advice on managing my money so thank you 🙂

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