A few years back I was moving out of my office, upgrading to a new space downtown. As the movers were loading the truck, one of the ladies from the office next door came over to say goodbye. I knew her pretty well as we had been neighbors for three years. She said something that absolutely floored me.
Without a moments hesitation she asked me what it was that my business actually did? After three years as neighbors how could she possibly not know what we do? And if she didn't know, I'm pretty certain the other 15 people in her office didn't know what we did either. I made the fatal mistake of assuming she, and everyone else in her office, knew what my business did and clearly this was a bad assumption.
Was it her fault that she didn't know what we did? Absolutely not. It was my fault for not taking the time to explain to her what we did, after all, she could have referred business as could any of her team mates. Ever since this experience the first thing I do when I've moved into a new office is go and introduce myself to the neighbors and tee up a time to do a brief introduction and a meet and greet with my team, where we get to know each others business.
This was a big lesson for me. From that day on I made a point of challenging as many business assumptions as I could, and I encourage others to do the same.
As a business coach I'm surprised how many incorrect assumptions business owners have. These assumptions range from blanket statements including "no one is buying at the moment" and "no one has any money". Clearly both are unlikely, these assumptions generally justify poor sales and provide an excuse as opposed to encouraging a more proactive stance, perhaps being more creative withe sales approach.
The other thing about assumptions is that they gain momentum, especially when they justify something not so good. The people that question them are often looked upon as being negative, whereas they really should be encouraged and acknowledged for questioning the assumptions that most people simply accept.
I see false assumptions with staff, with customers, with markets, with industries - with everything. My question to you is what assumptions are you making on a daily basis that need to be questioned? The more we automatically question assumptions the more likely we are to deal with facts as opposed to fiction. And that has to be good for business.