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There's No Room For Assumptions in Business, Part 2
I received several reader responses to July’s newsletter, There's No Room for Assumptions in Business, Part 1. One was from Ruth Winett of Winett Associates, who observes that many small technology companies she works with prefer to rely on assumptions—rather than confirming through market research—their customers and prospects preferences. Jim Bleck of Bleck Design Group notices people looking for a quick fix don't ask enough questions, which often leads to the wrong solutions and unnecessary changes. Yet Jim also notes that in the creative field, such as his product design firm, there is a necessity for making assumptions for efficiency sake. It requires that they rely on client input into projects.
As stated last month, we all need to make some assumptions to function in this world. Many are based on extensive experience and knowledge. There are, however, untested assumptions that can be hazardous to your business’s health.
Assumption 1: My market understands the value of what I sell. Don’t assume everyone perceives the great value of your products and services. It may not be as obvious as you think. Test your message, and keep communicating and demonstrating the benefits your business offers to your target markets. Also, get customer testimonials.
Assumption 2: Customers are happy with my products and services. Are you absolutely sure? The best way to find out is to ask your customers. Be sincere. Press a little. Ask how you can improve and then do something to enhance your customers’ experiences. Your efforts will create loyalty.
Assumption 3: My employees are not capable of doing more. We often judge our employees and their capabilities, and then we close the book. But if we expect more and give them the tools, training and encouragement to meet our expectations, the results can be pleasantly surprising.
Assumption 4: These problems are the fault of ….. It is short-sighted to cast blame when problems crop up. As business owners, you often contribute to issues by not explaining things clearly enough, by overlooking small problems until they grow into large ones, and by not keeping tabs on all aspects of your business. As the boss, you have ultimate responsibility for everything. So assume nothing, and know everything.
Assumption 5: My business is worth $X. Your bottom line may not reflect the sweat equity you invested in it. Your business is worth what someone will pay for it—a number that may be significantly lower than what you have in mind. You can increase the value of your business by understanding what contributes to its worth and improving on the deficits.
During the July teleclass we talked about the assumptions that business owners make, and then discussed how to spot employee assumptions. Start with yourself and check your own pre-determined thoughts. Then make sure you require everyone in your company to do the same. Make it part of your firm’s culture. Your business will be the benefactor.
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