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November 30, 2012

Promises. Promises. Thoughts from the Small Business Congress

I am attending the NSBA Small Business Congress in Washington, DC this week. I would be lying if I told you it was fun. Thought-provoking, enlightening, overwhelming… yes that’s it! Not to mention downright scary for a small business owner (lots of talk about the Fiscal Cliff).

I have listened to panelists on Tax Policy, Labor and Employment Issues, Lending and Access to Capital. I have so much I want to share, and I will over the next few blogs. But, today I want to concentrate on a simple, but constant theme that permeated so many of the presentations.

Politics aside, what I heard is that so much of what has contributed to the recent financial crisis is that too many people promised too much…to too many.

Let’s think about that theme as business owners. How often have you been “optimistic” about the cost of doing a project and promised or quoted a price that was too low? Have you promised to meet an impossible deadline?  Have you told a potential employee about the benefits of joining your organization, but soft-peddled difficulties of doing the job? That’s essentially promising them something.  Have you promised raises or benefits and not been able to deliver?

It’s really tempting to make promises. But, we need to exercise restraint, common sense. Over the years I have tried to “under-promise, and over-deliver.” It’s worked pretty well being direct. People know if we promise, we will deliver. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if more people did that?

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