Running a small business is a lot like being a new parent or political pundit – everyone has opinions and advice to give you, and rarely is any of it productive. Here are some common advice traps that will actually do more harm than good to your small business.

Promotional gimmicks

Maybe you saw a really effective gimmick at a trade show that was drawing and audience, or some off-the-wall offer on a late night local commercial that everyone in the office was talking about the next day. Those promotional gimmicks may work for some small business owners, but they may not be the right fit for your image as a small business owner. Mostly, those promotions draw a crowd because they want to see the spectacle, and not the product behind it. Think of a promotional gimmick as a goofy mascot, before you decide to use one for your small business. That goofy mascot may work for some small business owners, but when you grow and reach into larger markets, do you want to be known as “that company with the goofy mascot?”

Off the cuff financial advice

As a small business owner, there will never be a shortage of people around you who are more than eager to offer financial advice. Be selective. The only people who offer good financial advice are those who are intimately familiar with your industry, business goals, and finances. For many small business owners, that’s the person in the mirror, and no one else. The best thing to do is shop around and develop a relationship with a financial professional with a good track record of sound advice.


Hiring friends and family has been the downfall of many a small business owner, because a personal relationship does not always translate to professional industry-relevant skills. Then, when things go sour, your small business takes a hit, and so does your relationship. The best thing to do is keep business and personal life as two very separate entities.

Jumping on social media trends

Social media is a very integral part of growing a customer base for a small business. Every entrepreneur wants their company to be relevant and in touch with their target client base. However, there is a big difference between a small business using Twitter to share new product releases and industry news, and weighing in with opinions about popular reality television shows. As always, think about your small business and the image you want for your company. If you wouldn’t say it to a prospective client, then you shouldn’t say it to the entire world on social media.