Small Business is all about learning. The big lesson I’ve learnt recently is never to assume anything in business. Instead, try and employ contingencies to manage expectations and outcomes. Here are a couple of common assumptions made by business owners and some suggestions for how to remedy them.

Assumption: That a customer who says they will pay – actually will

Remedy: Commence work only after a deposit is received in the bank. Only provide goods/services on ‘appro’ if you are prepared to lose them or receive nothing. (It’s a bit like lending money and books!)

Assumption: That clients will follow agreed timelines

Remedy: Develop contingencies and possible penalties for failure to work to timelines. Make these conditions clear in proposals and work plans.

Assumption: That customers know when you are on holidays.

Remedy: Make sure when you take a break you alert people in as many ways as possible e.g. on a Xmas card, email signature, answering message, office door or website. There is nothing more annoying to a customer than not being able to reach you when they assume you are there.

Assumption: That customers are happy with your product or services

Remedy: An independent customer satisfaction survey can let you know if your assumption is right or wrong. How do you know this? Many customers will not tell you they are unhappy they will just walk with their feet. It is important to know how your customers are really thinking. Unfortunately you (as the business owner) are not always the best person to elicit this information.

Assumption: That staff in Australia actually work in January

Remedy: Give up on expecting clients to be at work, or achieving their tasks – just take the month off!

Assumption: That past customers will contact you if they need your services

Remedy: Make contact with past customers to remind them of your services and enquire about their needs.

Please feel free to share other assumptions you have made?  After all we all learn from each other’s muck ups.