Lessons Learned for Small Business from Sandra Bullock's HeartbreakApril 26th, 2010 | Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business,Small Business Tips | 2 Comments »
So I have to admit, I am more of a fan of Sandra Bullock because of my wife. She loves Sandra Bullock, especially in that movie Hope Floats. Bullock does seem very down to Earth and does not have the outward characteristics of your typical Hollywood diva. On the other hand, I thought I liked Jesse James, especially after his appearance in Celebrity Apprentice last year. Again he seemed like a fairly straight-talking guy that had learned from his past mistakes. Oh but was I wrong. Actually, a lot of people were wrong. But there were warning signs all over the place. And there was plenty of information that was available that could have predicted Sandra Bullock’s and Jesse James’ relationship collapse.
Small businesses can learn from Bullock’s heartbreak. The Bullock/James fall-out can teach small businesses a lot about picking marketing/integration partners, selecting vendors or freelancers to support your business, using consultants to advise on company strategy and using website designers or software developers for your business. Here are a few lessons:
1. Past Track Record Does Predict Future Performance: So it was apparently known that Jesse James had some issues in his past with staying faithful in relationships. So Sandra Bullock likely had information that could have predicted James’ infidelity and she probably decided to disregard it. Small businesses cannot afford to ignore information about a partner, vendor, consultant etc. that they have had some past issues in an area such as meeting timelines, deliverables or performing sub-standard work. Small businesses in fact need to be meticulous in seeking out information about a company’s previous track record because that may be one of the most reliable predictors of whether a vendor/partner will live up to expectations.
2. Do Research & Diligence Upfront: Again the information about James was available for Sandra Bullock. In fact, she probably could have conducted even more diligence on Jesse James’ past. In this day, with internet resources that are available and sites that provide background information on businesses like Kikscore, there is no excuse for a small business not to conduct exhaustive background research on potential partners, vendors, consultants or even employees that may be hired. The information is readily-available, small businesses just need to take the time to conduct the research and due diligence on the front end of an engagement. If a small business takes the time to conduct up front research and diligence, it can really help avoid bad decisions, waste of time and resources, and even potential damage to the brand by avoiding certain businesses all together.
3. Monitor During Relationship/Engagement/Partnership: It now has been reported that Jesse James did most of his “running around” when Bullock was filming her Oscar-award winning movie The Blind Side. This was all done behind her back when she was busy trying to make a living. Small businesses can learn from this and arm themselves with tools like Google Alerts to monitor and track what other people are saying about companies that they do businesses with during an engagement. That way, if there is a blog post about an angry customer saying that a vendor that you are using too is having money issue, you can be on notice and attempt to proactively verify that information. Those alerts are also great for finding out news reports about companies. Using tools like Google Alerts is a way you can be ahead of the game and avoid finding out this information when it is too late.
4. Quickly Act to Cut Losses: Bullock moved quickly when she found out about James’ behavior and moved out of her house. When small businesses find out damaging information or at least information that may worry them about a vendor, partner or contractor that you are currently in business with, you must act quickly. If you feel that the information puts your business at risk, take steps quickly to avoid further damage and if that means ending a partnership or contract that is what you should consider doing. The alternative is staying in a doomed relationship and we all know where that ends up! Check out Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s 81 Strategies to Fix a Bad, Falling Apart Business Partnership as a way to gauge whether you should stay in a business relationship.
5. Preserve Your Brand: Along the lines of cutting your losses, Bullock’s brand has actually held up during this heartbreaking episode with James. She took the high road through the split and did not fall into the trap of being dragged down into the gutter, even when crazy allegations were leveled against her. Instead, she responded in a dignified manner, surrounded herself by her family and did not do anything that was out of her regular behavior. For a small business that gets burned by a partner or a vendor, instead of getting dragged down by someone else’s behavior, try to act in a way that you want that reflects your brand and not the ugliness that may arise from your partner/vendor’s conduct or statements.
6. Trust Your Gut: In the end, if you ask Bullock I wonder if she had a suspicion early on about James’ behavior toward women, but ignored her gut instinct. Sadly, if she did I am sure she probably wishes now that she listened to her gut. For small businesses, it is important to have that BS meter and if you detect even the slightest issue with potential business partner/vendor you should move on. There are just too many other options out there for partners, vendors, etc that you will be better off going with someone else rather than someone you have doubts about. Remember, if you have to convince yourself that you need to do business with someone and you should just ignore some of those “red flag” (even if they are small), stop right there and protect yourself by moving on to the next business. Sometime the business partner that you say “No” to, is more valuable for your business than the ones you say “Yes!” to.
Please tell us if you see any more lessons learned from the Bullock/James split.