My 3 Most Controversial Views on Running a Business.

I’ve spent the last few years rethinking some of my long-held views on how to run a business. Maybe it’s because I have some personal experience with the topic or that I’ve heard so many different viewpoints on what works, but a few of my opinions have changed. These three are my most controversial opinions.

1. The best motivator for managing money is to make more money

I used to think the best time to manage your money is when you are running short. I’ve changed my mind. (OK, financial wizards and accounting gurus, you can feel free to correct me on this by sending your e-mail here.) It’s a terrible, no-good practice to think you should not manage your money, right? However, note that I am not really saying you shouldn’t keep a budget and tidy up your finances. What I’ve found over the years is that the best motivator to handling your money is to have more of it. When you don’t have enough business income, it gets much harder. You have to nickle and dime yourself to death. Some might say having more money means you’ll get looser and spend more, but in my experience, that’s not the case. I view a windfall as a bonus beyond the norm and an opportunity to use the money wisely and even give more to charities. I view a shortfall as depressing. It doesn’t make me want to manage my money when there isn’t enough of it.

2. Your decisions should not always be dictated by data

If the accountants just had a conniption fit over the last assertion about running a business, the data scientists will blow a tube on this one. Data can change the world, don’t get me wrong. Many years ago, when I first heard about how companies like IBM have collected data about bridge integrity and understanding traffic flows in order to reduce accidents, I realized how much good data can help people make good decisions. Here’s the thing, though. You can collect reams and reams of data and still have a deep conviction that you should go against what that information is telling you. You can still have a hunch. Sometimes, going against what the data tells you is a good thing. (Just to clarify: I did say data should not always dictate every decision–in most cases, go with the data for help.)

3. Social networking should not replace all marketing efforts

I’m heavily into social media. I’ve covered the space countless times; I post multiple times on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn each day; and, I encourage people to use social nets as a way to do low-cost marketing for their company. At the same time, I’m not so enamored by the technology that I think it can completely replace your marketing efforts. It can augment them, sure. In some cases, a plain old printed brochure you hand out at a tech conference or a really slick business card will win you more customers than anything in digital form. Please keep making those promotional videos and post them on YouTube for the world to see, and let us know about them on Twitter, but don’t let that become the only marketing you do. It’s too easy to think of the “new” as the “only” when it comes to marketing. I recommend you use the same strategy for IT security as you do for marketing: be open to any strategy and deploy several.

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