Are You a Pushover in your Small Business?


There’s a common trait among small business owners. It’s the sort of quality that gets in the way of achieving what you want from your business. In fact, it makes you dread going to work – in you own business! Can you guess what it is?

Small business owners are generous to a fault. They’re pushovers in their business. They let others walk all over them which, sadly, keeps them underearning and overworking. And, it comes at a cost. It ruptures confidence, impairs physical health, and weakens business success.

Here are two examples I frequently hear. A client is late in paying. You feel “bad” for the client. Therefore, you don’t take the necessary steps to get paid as agreed upon. Finally, with enough time, the client doesn’t pay at all and you end up writing off the project. Sound familiar?

How about this situation? A client asks for work beyond the initial scope of the project. Sure! No problem. You want to provide excellent service and show the client how much you appreciate their business. You do it for no charge. Plus, what harm can it be? It’s only a minor request. Before long, request #2, #3, #4, and #5 follow.

At this point, you don’t want to respond to their emails. You cringe when their number pops up on caller ID. You just want them to go away! You’re no longer comfortable speaking with them about additional billing charges. You’re afraid you’re going to loose your cool and cause the client to pull the plug on the entire project. Instead, you endure.

Dr. Phil, psychologist and TV personality, said (in a southern drawl), “We teach people how to treat us.” If we want to be treated differently, we need to act different.

5 Ways to Overcome “Pushoveritis”

1. Communicate. We can’t speak enough about communicating clearly, completed, and frequently. At the launch of a relationship with a new client, don’t assume the client read “the fine print.” Do any of us? Review the agreement with them in detail. Make sure there is a clear understanding of change orders, additional costs, payments — and impact if the agreement is not honored.

2. Consistency. Be steadfast in your policies. When inconsistencies exist with your billing and/or service practices, it confuses the client and sets you up for a potential miscommunication. Be consistent in all you do with all your clients.

3. Correct the underlying source. Being a pushover in your business is triggered by other underlying factors. For instance, the fear of losing business, lack of confidence in one self, people pleasing, or undervaluing your skill set are just some of the dynamics that trigger pushover behavior. Once you tackle the source, you’ll have a permanent solution.

4. Be humble…but assertive. Some small business owners feel uncomfortable with the notion of setting boundaries with others. They don’t like being “aggressive”. When you communicate early and often, you seldom need to be concerned with aggression rearing its ugly head. Assertive business owners develop the skills to ask for what they need respectfully.

5. Be brave. I know how challenging it is to implement new ways of “being”. However, you have to get past your fears to grow a successful business. You’ll soon realize that you can, in deed, ask for what you want and your business won’t fall down around you. It’s the most powerful feeling of all.

What do you do to overcome “pushoveritis?”

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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