Business Advice from Familiar Idioms

Idioms, or “old sayings,” are well-known phrases that remind us what to do—or what not to do—in life. They are handy little quips that help us step around some of life’s inevitable pitfalls.
And in one’s business life, as in one’s personal life, these little nuggets can keep us on the straight and narrow. Here are some of my favorite quips that have always guided me nimbly along my path.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
This means you shouldn’t make assumptions—or decisions—based on how something looks on its surface. In life this means that what you see isn’t always what you get, and it is wise to invest time learning what’s beneath the obvious exterior.
In business, this means that what you see on a Facebook profile, for example, will rarely provide you with all the information you need to know about a person. So whether you’re pursuing a lead, a prospective client, or a potential hire, get to know them beyond what you can see online. Learn a little more—on the phone or in person—before deciding whether that relationship will be worthwhile.
You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince
This means that not every new relationship will be “the one.” Finding the right friendship or romantic match often takes a number of tries before you’ll make a genuine love connection.
In business, this reminds us to be patient and persistent when scouring LinkedIn for a potential new hire or perusing Google for a new vendor. Establishing and nurturing genuine business relationships takes effort and is worth the investment. And remember that even if that recruit or lead isn’t a viable fit for your business today, such relationships often prove to be valuable in other ways down the road.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
In life, this one warns against celebrating a success before it has actually come to fruition. Doing so can lead to disappointment or worse.
In business, this means it’s unwise to rely on marketing metrics—such as increased website traffic—as indicators that customers are about to appear. It’s important to not get sucked into the hype that surrounds marketing automation right now. If your marketing efforts aren’t resulting in new relationships, new customers, and new revenue, revise them sooner than later.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
And speaking of barnyard fowl, this idiom reminds us that we must spread out our risk to avoid losing everything. To protect our hard-earned savings, for example, we have learned that it’s safer to mitigate the risk of losing it all by diversifying our investment portfolio.
In business, this means you shouldn’t be wedded to a single platform or strategy – especially if it’s not giving you the results you need. Don’t rely too heavily on one particular marketing approach (like search-engine marketing), or one specific channel (broadcast, print, social media). Just like putting all of your money into one investment, putting the fate of your business into a single marketing model risks losing it all. A multi-faceted marketing strategy is the best way to ensure you’re reaching the right prospects in the right way.

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