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Business Practices that Make you Look Bad

On my travels around the web and in real life I get to see and study a lot of small businesses.  I admit that I look specifically for them, I study how they work, what they do, how their customers relate to them and vice versa.  And along the way I take note of the business practices that don’t work and can cost you customers and give you a bad name.  Here’s a couple that I’ve seen recently.

Forcing site visitors to sign up to your newsletter before they can see your site.  Years ago this was touted as a way to build your newsletter list, these days it’s bad practice at best and rude at worst.  The whole point of having a website is so people can see what you’re about, and decide if they want to come back and/or recommend you to their friends.  Make it easy for them and they’ll come back.  Put obstacles in their way and they’ll click off and you’ll never see them again.  Subscribing to a newsletter (or rss) is a choice that people make after looking around and seeing if they like what you’re offering.

Harvesting email addresses from personal or business sites and using them to promote your business.  This is a tricky subject, and it’s about knowing where the line is that your emails become spam.  If you have an email address and you send them a link to your site with “I’m letting you know about this because it may be of interest or useful to you” that’s ok as a one-off email.  However, if you use that email address and add it to your newsletter list so the person has to unsubscribe – that’s spam.  If you send more than one email to a person who has not specifically requested you contact them – that’s spam.  Your email address is likely to be blacklisted, and will result in your emails being trashed as spam before they ever reach your customers.

Ignoring customers at a stall or in a shop.  Standing talking to a friend or on the phone when people are looking at your wares.  I was at a Fair last weekend and there were approximately a dozen small business stalls there, my daughter and I wandered around looking and touching items at all of them.  There was only ONE stall where the person behind the counter came up and spoke to me.  Guess which one I bought something at?

More bad business practices coming up in the next few days!  And if you’d like to add a few that you’ve seen, tell us about it in the comments.

Melinda Jameson

Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started this site to share her best work from home ideas to help other Work At Home Mums become more financially independent and able to spend time with their families.

9 thoughts on “Business Practices that Make you Look Bad

  • Great tip! I also loathe those “squeeze pages”, especially when you are already on the mailing list!

    Christie’s last blog post..PR: Where Moms Go for Advice In and Out of Recessions

  • @ Mark That’s awful! I hope the knitting was worth her losing her job over it!

    @ Courtney So true! I think that comes back to ‘What goes around comes around!’

    @ Alex I’ve been in jobs like that! Ugh!!!

    @ Bec Gross!

    @ Kirrily Do you find you notice the mispellings and then get distracted from the rest of the page? Probably not an actual business practice, but for heaven’s sake people, use your spellchecker and get someone to proof read it! *scans page and comments for spelling errors*

    @ Peter Are you trying to tell me something? LOLOL!

  • It may be too obvious, but I believe no one yet has mentioned over-promising and under-delivering (as opposed to the other way around), especially when it comes to work at home businesses.

    Thank you for your approach in this article. Its creative and helpful.

    Peter Rubel’s last blog post..Twitter: Wave of the Future for Business

  • Another one! Not sure it’s business practice exactly, but incorrect spelling is a bad look – especially in banner ads. A whole page of text with one typo is one thing, but a banner ad with 5 words and a spelling error should never happen.

  • Around Christmas time I went up to our local to get some photos printed (I keep going to write “developed” even though it was digital). First I went to Big W but it was packed so I went to a camera shop. Once I’d uploaded my photos, I went to the counter to pay NOT ONLY did the guy behind the counter ignore me for a few seconds so he could continue a conversation with a friend, he interrupted the transaction to keep talking.

    When I came back to pick up my photos he was EATING behind the counter – now he wasn’t the only person in the store, there were at least three other staff members so why he couldn’t eat on his lunch break is beyond me. He even had the hide to shovel another spoonful in before dusting his hands off on his pants and coming over to me.

    Bec’s last blog post..The harness of doom

  • Another one is encouraging staff to work in a half-assed manner by never praising and only punishing – and by giving the few good workers a hard time about taking time off because “productivity falls too much” when they do.

    Great way to encourage everyone to give great service! (um, no.)

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..The Theory of Suckiness

  • I have heard a few people talking recently about buying things online and receiving extras in with their order. Often, those extras have turned them off ever buying from that shop again. Mostly it was completely unrelated to what they had purchased – things like advertising/information for extremist religions or causes such as animal welfare etc.

    Everybody has ideas that are close to their heart, but it was clear that pushing those ideas on customers who didn’t ask for them in any way tended to offend many of them.

    Others were annoyed by extras like stickers or button badges being sent when they ordered a bag or tshirt. Some people love that kind of freebie though, so it’s hard to know what to do!

  • These are great tips…and I also wanted to add complaining about customers/clients on Twitter and other social networking sites. I can’t believe how often I see this and cringe. Bad business!!

    Courtney’s last blog post..Effective Article Marketing – Part One

  • I have to share – once I had a trade show in Orlando and was unable to make the show myself. The woman I had hired as my salesperson at the time went along with the office manager to run the booth.

    I found out after the show that my salesperson had spent the time when she was unmonitored in the booth…



    Needless to say, she wasn’t with my company much longer! 😀

    Mark Smith’s last blog post..Win A Free Copy Of EstiMate Enterprise!

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