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The Biggest BS in Business--and How to Eliminate It

Seven top minds in business nominate the biggest time-wasters, profit-killers, and all-around worst corporate behaviors.
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In preparation for the launch of my new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, I asked seven top business gurus where they see the biggest BS in the business world. Here are their answers, along with suggestions for eliminating the BS:

1. Merely promising good customer service

Sales guru Jeff Gitomer believes that many companies promise good customer service and then don't or can't deliver on that promise. "The worst offenders are airlines," he complains. "Incredibly, JD Powers actually gives airlines awards for customer service. It's absurd."

Solution: Focus on customer loyalty rather than customer service because repeat business is the real measure of whether you're serving your customers well.

2. Believing that growth is easy

Stanford professor Bob Sutton says companies consistently underestimate the amount of time and effort that will be required to scale up as they grow. "The illusion that it's easy and the impatience to get it done combines with incompetence in getting it done," he says. "The result is almost always a disaster."

Solution: Base your strategies and tactics for growth on examples of other companies that have gone through similar transitions.

3. The "winning is everything" attitude

Bestselling author Tom Asacker believes it's BS when companies "become inhuman, heartless, and compassionless." He sees this happening when the decision makers inside a company become obsessed with their goals and forget that work is supposed to be fun.

Solution: Rather than think of goals as something external, think of them as ways to make your business more human and more relevant for customers and employees alike.

4. Long, boring presentations

Peter Handel, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training feels that much of the BS in the workplace is the direct result of people not getting to the point. "They keep on talking, almost as if they want to hear themselves speak rather than communicate something of value to the other person," he explains.

Solution: Cut your presentations down to their essentials and concentrate on what the other person wants and needs to know.

5. Too many meetings

Donald Trump, who needs no introduction, doesn't believe in long meetings, big meetings, or frequent meetings. "I don't think it's an efficient use of time or energy," he says.

Solution: Create a corporate culture where people have the confidence to take action without first discussing it to death.

6. Behaving unethically

Emeritus business professor and author Robert Cialdini sees BS in the way that companies and managers behave unethically while holding their employees, suppliers, and business partners to a higher standard. Cialdini notes that "once you get a reputation for unethical business practices, the only people who will work for or with you are those willing to cheat you in turn."

Solution: Hold yourself and those around you to the highest ethical standard.

7. Passing the buck

Best-selling author Geoffrey Moore says that when he's presenting business ideas to middle management, they often expect him to convince their own bosses that the ideas are good. "That's BS because this is your business and it's your responsibility to convince your management to do the right thing," he says.

Solution: Take responsibility for keeping your management informed and for convincing them to take the right action. If you can't, go work someplace else.

Preorder my new book and get an exclusive bonus chapter plus a signed bookplate. (Note: Once the book's published, both will be unavailable forever.)

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Mar 25, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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