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6 Popular Phrases Used By Failing Entrepreneurs

Business

Most entrepreneurs learn quickly that you need to stay positive in business, or you will give up. Positive thinking helps, but so do the words you choose in your daily interactions. Throughout my 20-years of consulting entrepreneurs and startups, I have observed many businesses go under.

I've noticed most of these failed entrepreneurs frequently repeat similar phrases as they discuss their routine operations. If you're trying to grow your business during tough times, here are a few phrases you should be conscious of using when times get tough.

1. “I combine my personal and business expenses."

Combining personal and business expenses make any bookkeeping complicated. It adds more stress and increases your chances for audits as you try to identify which expenses can be deducted and which are personal. A recent TD Bank survey revealed that 56 percent of small business owners use a personal checking account for both business and personal finances.

Businesses must provide the IRS with all records related to the operation of a business. The supporting business documents required at tax time range from gross receipts, purchases, expenses, assets, employment taxes to travel and transportation costs, entertainment costs and gift expenses.
When these documents are combined, it will require a lot of time and effort to separate them and the risk of human error increases. Mistakes made with regard to filing taxes can result in hefty fines. Using a simple expense tracking system like Receipt Bank can help business owners separate personal from business expenses.
2. “I'm not good at delegating."
Successful business owners know they must delegate if they are going to grow their business. When entrepreneurs do everything themselves, they are preventing the business from succeeding and growing.

Many inexperienced entrepreneurs don't know when to delegate and when to do the work themselves. Generally, a task should be outsourced when it's not central to generating revenue for the company. If a task doesn't increase a company's competitive edge or requires specialized knowledge, farm out the work. It will give you more energy to focus on growing your business. Accounting, payroll, website design and public relations are good examples of tasks that should be outsourced.

3. "I do my own accounting."
The majority of small business owners opt to do their own accounting to save money. However, in the end, this approach may actually be costing them more money. Accounting requires time and effort, and when a business owner utilizes their valuable time towards accounting tasks, they are not making the best use of their time. The opportunity costs of accounting are exponential. The opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen, like focusing on growing and expanding the business.
Accounting can also reveal the health of a potential failing business. If the books are in disarray then a business owner can't properly evaluate the financial health of the business - which is the starting point of financial growth.
4. "I gave my client (or vendor) a financial break."
Entrepreneurs don't want to lose any deal, which is why many small business owners squeeze tight profit margins as a way to win the business. This isn't a smart approach. When I hear businesses say they gave a financial break to win the business, I know they are headed on the wrong path. Offering a client (or vendor) a financial break might be a genuine gesture, but it is not good for future business. The value of a product or service should reflect the quality of work. And by diminishing the cost, you are effectively telling the client your product or service is inferior. Entrepreneurs must be confident in what they offering, and giving financial breaks implies the opposite.
5. “I use Excel for bookkeeping."
Excel can be a great starting point for startups because it's easy to use, free, and chances are; you have it on your computer. But when businesses continue to use Excel past that initial startup period, they start to get into trouble. Excel provides many opportunities to make manual or financial mistakes in the books. Manually entering the formulas, filters and data connections in Excel is time-consuming and is prone to human errors. Excel also doesn't have the capacity to help you scale your business. As new products are introduced, assets are acquired and new employees join the team, books become more extensive. Excel can't keep up with these changes. Abandon Excel as soon as possible to give your business the foundation it needs to grow into a thriving organization.
6. “I was denied a Business Loan because my books are a mess."
This phrase is too common especially since today, we have online access to information with notes on preparing for a business loan application. A crucial point to remember as a small business is that most banks will evaluate the fiscal health of your business as well as the business owner's credit rating and personal financials. The best way to prepare for a loan application is to have a conversation with your Bookkeeper or Accounting Advisor. He or she can research what will be needed to accompany your application submission and get your books properly prepared for running financials the bank will want to examine like Cash Flow Projections, Collateral Schedule, and Outstanding Debt.
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Politics

Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.


When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.