4 things small business can learn from pirates


“YARR! If it please ye, hand over yer gold an’ jools within 10 business days”…said no pirate…ever.

How often have you thought that your business would run smoother if you ran it like a pirate ran his ship in the 1600’s? OK, probably not very often. After all, these pirates were violent criminals of the sea. BUT, small businesses can learn a thing or two from these drunken no-gooders from the days of yore…

1.    State your terms

Pirates didn’t dance around discussing business terms, and neither should you. You have the supply, and your customers have the demand. Be straight and clear with your customers in terms of what they’ll get, when they’ll get it, how much it’s going to cost them and when they are expected to pay. Your customers will appreciate your candour and you’ll avoid arguments that can sour a job and lose yourself a potential return customer.

2.    Get payment upfront

Imagine buying an item from a pirate – they wouldn’t let you leave their side without payment or at least something of equal value! It has become the norm for small businesses to provide services and products without upfront payment or deposit, and then waste precious time chasing clients for payment. That money be yours!

Issue invoices on site, or even better, invest in portable EFTPOS machines and take payment on the spot. You’ll have better cash-flow and spend less time chasing up money.

3.    Stick to the code

Call it your “business code”, call them “guidelines”, whatever. Make some fundamental rules for yourself and your staff around your core business processes, and stick to them. Rules provide structure for how you do business, guide good decision making and remove uncertainty.

4.    Don’t trust anyone

OK, so this one is a little cynical, but as a small business owner it’s easy to be robbed, cheated and sent out of business. Avoid the dangers of shady or slippery customers.

Pirates would be naturally wary when conducting business or making new acquaintances, and why should your business be any different? Introduce some basic checks and measures for new customers or big jobs, so you’re not left out-of-pocket because some scurvy, bilge-sucking scallywag has hornswoggled you. People do what’s right by them, ya can’t expect more than that. Be wary matey!

So, don’t go pillaging the masses, just exercise some good business practices and precautions, backed by simple rules, to ensure smoother sailing. Savvy?

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