Small business reality series – what information or advice to can you trust?

A limited edition hand-crafted horse at the Bryanston Organic Market, Johannesburg. Price in the region of R8,000. Last one left in a serious of 300. Sadly, the creator died.
A limited edition hand-crafted horse at the Bryanston Organic Market, Johannesburg. Price in the region of R8,000. Last one left in a serious of 300. Sadly, the creator died.

When I have visited the small coastal town of Fish Hoek in the Western Cape I have noticed local artists selling their paintings in shopping malls. What stands out for me is the wonderful, almost idyllic, beach scenes. The beaches are pristine, the sea blue and the mountains fresh and vibrant. It’s a kind of unreal world that reminds one of how things used to be, not as they are now.

You never see these local coastal scene artists with paintings that depict the rough reality of today. Go for a walk on the beach and you likely to see pickpockets and sunbathers leaving their trash in the sand. Go up a little further to Jagger’s Walk where the subway is and you will catch the stench of urine and find unsavoury characters lurking in the shade of the tunnel. This is not to say that the beaches aren’t cleaned up before the holidaymakers arrive but with high-density urban living the picturesque coastal towns just aren’t what they used to be. But many people would rather have the idyllic coastal painting than the sordid reality.

This brings me to reality and small business. What is often presented by the so-called experts, gooroos if you like, is an idyllic picture of small business providing an outlet for the owner’s passion, freedom and independence. But the harsh reality is that the small business owner often has to contend with unsavoury people and circumstances. If he or she doesn’t have their wits about them, they can easily fall prey to “Chislers” who try to lure them into providing these services for next to nothing. These other people who will spend money on luxury imported motor cars but when it comes to buying small business services they will try to beat down your price so low that you might as well give them your shirt. From hard-won, or dare I say, bitter, experience it’s important to know your value and walk away from dubious small business owners who want to reward you with laughable renumeration for the best you can offer them.

Another harsh reality is those who provide so-called specialised information that is going to increase your marketing and sales but all they are offering is some out of date or hyped up sales spiel that will leave you wondering what all the hot air is about. It’s best to be on guard when people try to sell you on all sorts of fast money-making marketing schemes and claim to be business turnaround experts. Bad business advice can be very costly.

If you want good advice, solid advice that can make a difference in your business and life, then it’s best to find real-world, practical, hands-on, trustworthy information and advice that can make the difference between success and failure. Yes, it may come at a price but things that provide or create value don’t come for free.

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