While the rest of the world celebrates its heavenly matches with fine wines and diamond pendants on Valentine’s Day, the contrarian in me is contemplating some less-than-celestial pairings of late.
Kenneth Cole and political commentary come to mind. As do Christina Aguilera and the national anthem. And, perhaps most alarmingly, there’s this season’s truly tragic merger of jeans and leggings into a new subgenre of pants called jeggings.
Really, some collaborations should be avoided at all costs. The same is true for your business. Keeping it separate from the rest of your life can be the secret to avoiding a lot of heartache.
Business and Politics
Considering that President Obama won the 2008 election with just 52 percent of the popular vote, it’s a pretty safe assumption that no matter what your political belief, roughly half your customers are going to disagree with you. Why would you put yourself in that position?
Whether it’s through a newsletter, social media or a sign in your store window, revealing your conservative concerns or your liberal leanings to your customers is a stupid business move.
Many people vote with their dollars, and when they discover they’re on the opposite side of the polling booth, they might quickly take their business to more politically friendly territory.
As is often the case in politics, some things are better left unsaid.
Business and Religion
I am, by no means, suggesting that people hide their religion. But that doesn’t mean you have to promote it at work — unless of course it’s a key component of your business. It’d be pretty hard to sell rosary beads without revealing your particular religious bent.
However, for the vast majority of business owners who likely cater to a wide variety of religiously inclined folks, keeping your religious beliefs from interfering with your ability to relate to other people is a good idea.
Whether you realize it or not, wearing your prayers on your sleeve may make some people feel like outsiders. No one wants to do business in a place where they do not feel comfortable and welcome.
Business and Family
Yes, your daughter is an excellent graphic artist — for a third-grader. That does not, however, mean she should be designing your latest brochure. While family-owned businesses offer many benefits, for some things, it’s best to hire an expert.
Whether it’s your website design, your monthly newsletter or your marketing plan, unless someone in your family is truly a professional, it pays to hire someone who is. The face you show to the outside world needs to express that you are serious enough about your business to invest in doing things right.
Business and Hobbies
While you may love your Beanie Babies, very few of your customers are going to be nearly as impressed with your collection as you are.
When you offer TMI about your personal interests to your co-workers, employees or customers, you’re making yourself look foolish. No one will tell you, but you’re sending the not-so-subtle message that you don’t know when to leave your personal interests at home and get down to business.
The one exception to this rule would be if your hobby supports your business. If you own an auto body shop and you’re into drag racing, by all means, share your crash photos with your customers. You’ll build a stronger rapport with them since you may likely have similar interests.
Business and Nudity
What? You’ve never gone to work naked? Are you sure? Have you checked your Facebook page? In the age of social media, your business is no longer located at your street address. It’s on the Internet, on Facebook and, most important, in the minds of your customers.
Whether you like it or not, your customers will find you online. Even though your last trip to Cancun is none of their business, you can be sure they’ll take a quick peek at your photos. And, I think it’s safe to say, nothing undermines your professionalism faster than seeing you in a bikini and a sombrero doing tequila shooters. Unless, of course, you sell bikinis, sombreros and tequila shooters.
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Jeanette Mulvey is the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.