One of my favorite TV Series is Hustle – a group of five con men (Albert, Stacey, Danny, Ash, and Mickey) who function as a modern Robin Hood crew. Exacting judgement n greedy, dubious businessmen, they operate under a set of rules, first of which is, “you cannot cheat an honest man’. Flip side to that is, “when someone wants to gain something for nothing, give them nothing for something”.
Apart from crushing heavily on Mickey (Adrian Lester) and his ‘out-of-this-world’ smile, I love Hustle because each episode exposes me to the different ways people bring heartache upon themselves by trying to reap where they have not sown, make ridiculous profits, or even worse, defraud the next man. Are the Hustle team righteous? Of course not; evil cannot cancel out evil, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Still love them though!
Away from Hustle, I have two rules for avoiding heartache in business. These two nuggets are guaranteed winners long as they’re applied exactly as prescribed.
1. There is social media and the ‘miracles’ it will work for your business as far as publicity and advertising are concerned. There is also something called a work ethic, without which both the social media platforms, and the business will fail. Unfortunately today young business owners spend more time tweeting and facebooking about their businesses than actually getting any work done.
Quick example: a friend of mine had a business and is quite active on social media promoting it; we’ll call her A. Recently, another friend (call her B) tweeted about needing the service A offers so I introduced them on Twitter. Two days after B tweets that A kept her waiting for four hours and she’s never using her service again.
Social media – good work ethic + all the recommendations in the world = heartache, brought on by failure.
2.Much as you can, avoid doing business with family, especially in parts of the world where ‘family’ is exalted over professionalism. I’ve written about landlords letting their property to family and the drama that goes with that, but I have a personal example now.
My family needed a service, and contracted two different companies to provide it – three items from Company A, and three items from Company B (who we’re distantly related to).
Company A delivers on schedule; on inspection the goods are of a good quality, and there is evidence that they used their initiative. Company B is paid in full, yet the goods are two weeks late. There are major errors in one during the draft inspection so it’s sent back.
48 hours to when these goods will be used, they’re yet to arrive, and the representative is unreachable. Several calls without any response and then by 5pm the representative picks up and says, “I’m in fellowship please, you’re calling my Galaxy Tab and its ringtone is loud”.
Took all of me (and some) to be civil and for a few reasons
- How was I to know you were in church? If you’d had picked up the entire day we’d been ringing your phone, or had the decency to return the calls….
- I have one number for you. What other way should I have tried to reach you? Seance? Mind travel? By the way, I’m excited you have a Galaxy Tab, SMH.
- Why didn’t you just deliver when you said you would?
This rep sent someone to deliver the goods the day before they were to be used (didn’t have the courtesy to bring them personally or even send a delivery/quantity note), and you can bet they were substandard. What did we do? Nothing. Why? Family. Will we use Company B’s service again? Not even if our lives depended on it!
There you have it! Thank me later…