Quit Bragging About Your Booming Business

April 27, 2009

So, you’re lucky enough to have a booming business despite the current economic climate. Or maybe you’ve just been telling people it is, to avoid getting drawn into those doom and gloom conversations.

While it’s important to stay positive, it’s not such a great idea to tell folk your business is booming while almost everyone else is up to their necks in shit.

So What If Your Business Is Booming – Your Customers Are Struggling

Many of your customers are struggling right now. And even if they can still afford to buy from you, they might think twice if you start bragging about your booming business, while they’re just treading water.

Be Poor But Positive

When you’re talking to customers about the economy, acknowledge that there’s a huge problem but stay positive about future prospects. I’ve spoken to folk recently who’ve said things like, “I just can’t see it getting any better.” And I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’d cross a busy motorway to get away from that kind of negative talk.

And Above All – Be Fashionable

Maybe you’re so financially savvy that you’re not even struggling at all, or perhaps your business really is booming. Don’t let people know that. Skint is the new black. Folk who aren’t suffering at all know it’s fashionable right now to be frugal. And even if you’re no fashionista yourself, you’re bound to have customers who are, so make sure you come up with some novel ideas that will appeal to their new slimline budget.

How do you feel when folk start bragging about their booming business in the midst of the recession? Would it deter you from buying from them.

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33 Responses to “Quit Bragging About Your Booming Business”

  1. Joanna Young on April 27th, 2009 6:24 am

    Sound advice Cath, on lots of levels.

    Hope things are going okay with you


    Joanna Young’s last blog post..Confidence, Poetry and Life: Interview with Sage Cohen, Author of Living the Life Poetic

  2. Davina on April 27th, 2009 8:12 am

    Hi Cath. Good to “see” you again. I was just thinking about you today and wondering how you were doing.

    I think the “bragging” will turn anyone off — even in a good economy. When a person is genuinely proud of how their business is doing I don’t mind hearing about it. It helps me to keep my own situation in perspective. But there is a different tone to bragging that makes hearing the same words harder.

    Davina’s last blog post..Letter from a Proofreader

  3. wilhb81 on April 27th, 2009 8:26 am

    Well, Cath. I agreed with your thought, “Be poor but stay positive!” It’s nothing wrong to be poor, but it’s a sin if you didn’t try your best to get you out from the poverty!

    wilhb81′s last blog post..Have a Wonderful Business Trip in Mauritius!

  4. Mike CJ on April 27th, 2009 11:53 am

    I agree about cutting the bullshit out, but I’ve just had a long chat with the team at my offline business:
    Key Facts:
    Enquiries down 20% on last year
    Sales down 10% on last year
    Still (just) making a profit
    I overheard one quite senior manager telling a client “It’s a nightmare, our enquiries are down 20%, our sales down by half that and we’re only just breaking even:”

    I suggested another way of putting it: “We’re having to work hard through this recession, and although our new enquiries are down 20%, sales have only dropped by 10%, so we must be doing something right! And we’re still making some money, so we’ll be around when things pick up.”

    Same facts, but a whole different message.

    Mike CJ’s last blog post..First Steps for a Rookie Blogger

  5. Brad Shorr on April 27th, 2009 12:54 pm

    Hi Cath, Great advice, as usual. The best course is to always remain on an even keel. Companies that get cocky (sometimes insufferably so) during booms get the boom lowered on them when things turn sour. (How do you like all those mixed metaphors?) :) In bad times like these, nobody wants to hear that, but then again nobody wants to hear Woe Is Me stories, either.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..From Hugh Beaumont to Hugh Laurie – Changing Cultural Icons and the Marketing Challenge

  6. cathlawson on April 27th, 2009 3:52 pm

    Hi Joanna – Thank you – I’m fine,just been busy.

    Hi Davina – That’s a good point. I guess it depends on who the person is. Stella McCartney got slated in the paper for saying the economy wasn’t affecting her business. I guess folk didn’t want to hear that she wasn’t struggling, when she’s never had to worry about money.

    Hi Wilhb – That would definitely be a huge sin.

    Hi Mike – The way you told it the second time makes all the difference. And that shows that you’re working more efficiently, as more of those enquiries are being turned into sales.

    LOL Brad – great metaphors. It’s a balancing act isn’t it? We can’t pretend there isn’t a problem but we can’t let it get us down either.

  7. Vered - MomGrind on April 27th, 2009 5:09 pm

    It’s good to see you!

    It’s true in business and it’s true in real life: regardless of how much someone is hit, or not hit, by the recession, one must show solidarity by not showing off success or wealth. It’s common human courtesy and it’s definitely smart for business.

    Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Fear of Rape

  8. Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching on April 27th, 2009 5:26 pm

    I agree with some of the previous commenters that, in any economic climate, others will pick up on it if you are lying or embellishing about how your business is doing. And, I like how you added that it doesn’t serve anyone to complain or be miserable either.

  9. John Hoff - WpBlogHost on April 27th, 2009 5:39 pm

    You’re right on with each point there, Cath. We did this with our business. Our first company only allowed for paying for hosting yearly, but because of this economy, I felt it was necessary to restructure so we could offer low cost monthly payments.

    And as far as hiding how wealthy you are, the best thing to do I think is “keep ‘em guessing”.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost’s last blog post..Landing Page Optimization: Make Your Links Stand Out To Get More Clicks

  10. cathlawson on April 27th, 2009 6:14 pm

    Hi Vered – Thank you. I like how you said that. Folk who don’t stick to the rules remind me of those who celebrated when they were saved from the Titanic.

    Hi Chris – Folk definitely do pick up on it don’t they – especially those in the same industry.

    Hi John – I like how you do monthly payments :) I know folk who estimate how much others are worth by their excessive spending. I guess that’s why the world is in trouble.

  11. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome on April 27th, 2009 8:41 pm

    What a great take on the topic Cath. So often new businesses are encouraged to talk about how busy they are and when I was honest about my finances a few weeks back, a couple of people questioned the business-sense of it, but as you know, my success is based on my authenticity and doing okay but not booming is part of that.

    And yeah, when I’m not rolling in dough, the last thing I particularly feel like doing is handing the cash over to someone who’s swimming in champagne-filled pools. ;)

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Grieving What We Can’t Have: WAHM Biz Builder Interview

  12. Ellen Wilson on April 27th, 2009 9:29 pm

    Hey Cath,

    Been away for A LONG while. But that’s obvious, eh. Vered mentioned your post.

    Well, perhaps people are doing the reverse psychology thing? I mean, they keep telling us to stay positive and start throwing our cash around so business can stay afloat. Yeah right. I’ve been cutting coupon and eating a lot of hamburger helper.


    If people had any sense they’d work on the damn political system and spread the happiness around instead of lying about how good things are. Like living in delusion is a good thing.

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Retreat

  13. Ellen Wilson on April 27th, 2009 9:35 pm

    Personally I don’t think we will have control in this country (US) until we start saving out money, get STRONG labor unions, and own our capital. Why should a few own all the resources? Doesn’t make any sense. Then these people own us.

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..Retreat

  14. Cath Lawson on April 28th, 2009 5:09 am

    Hi Ellen – I had been wondering what you were up to. I’m glad you’re well.

    Those are really good points. We will never have control of our own lives until we stop spending so much.

    I’m tired of the lies too. It’s scary – they’re telling everyone to borrow money and spend our way out of this economic swamp but the truth is, they don’t even know if it’s going to work.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Quit Bragging About Your Booming Business

  15. australian business directory on April 28th, 2009 7:47 am

    You’ve hit the nail on the head again!

  16. Meryl K. Evans on April 28th, 2009 12:25 pm

    I’ve been surprised how many people ask me how the economy is affecting my business. I tell them I’ve been very lucky to stay busy. Luck may or may not have anything to do with it — but the point is that I am trying not to offend people — at least, I hope not.

    Meryl K. Evans’s last blog post..Links: My Baby Is Almost Six Edition

  17. Kathy | Virtual Impax on April 28th, 2009 5:44 pm

    Cath –

    Brilliant advice – as always around here!!!

    When I see these people bragging about how “fat” their wallets are, I can’t help but think of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

    When you work so hard to affirm a “fact” you can sometime do so to the point as to lose credibility.

    As always – the truth flows liberally around here!!! Glad to see you’re back!!!

    Kathy | Virtual Impax’s last blog post..Social Media and Communication: How your mindset shapes the mesage.

  18. Liara Covert on April 28th, 2009 6:56 pm

    As you say, one can be positive without flaunting one’s own conditions. It requires tact and intuition to sense how to respond appropriately in each situation. Generalizing is not always wise.

    Liara Covert’s last blog post..What brings you back?

  19. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on April 29th, 2009 1:28 pm

    My motto – be gracious, show empathy, and treat others as you’d like yourself to be treated as well. Leaders lead by example.

    Works every time.

    Data points, Barbara

  20. J.D. Meier on April 29th, 2009 5:49 pm

    I think staying forward looking and opportunistic is the key.

    A good rule of thumb is lead yourself first and pace yourself for the long haul.

    J.D. Meier’s last blog post..Chunk Up Your Phrases for More Effective Writing

  21. Barbara Swafford on April 30th, 2009 6:20 am

    Hi Catherine,

    When our customers ask us how busy we are, we let them know we’re looking for work and this is a great time to get their job done in a timely manner, often at a discounted rate. It’s ends up being a win-win as they save a little, we can keep our employees working and keep a cash flow.

    I believe in being optimistic and will look for positive signs – like cars at the drive through mocha stands, a restaurant that has a waiting list, or people leaving a store with bags. Although in our area we do have businesses closing, I also make note they may have been over priced or moved into the area as the economy was taking a down turn.

    I feel positive we’ll all make it through this slow economy, recession or depression (whatever we want to call it), and hopefully we’ll all be wiser as to how we spend and invest our money.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Reaching Out To Help Others

  22. Sara on April 30th, 2009 4:12 pm


    You made an excellent point with this post. I totally agree that we need be aware of how people are feeling in this economy. I think it’s good to stay positive about your business, but not brag about it.

    I think the best thing we can do is be real about our own struggles. By doing this, we make a connection with the other person. I don’t mean that we have sit and cry about how bad things are, but be honest. Things are tough.

    But like Barbara said in her comment, we have to think positive and believe the time will happen when the pendulum starts to swing in the other direction. Glad your back:~)

    Sara’s last blog post..Where’s Waldo? Where’s Sara?

  23. cathlawson on April 30th, 2009 10:58 pm

    Hi Meryl – Saying that is a great way of not offending people. – it shows you’re not taking your luck for granted.

    Hi Kathy – That’s a really good point. I suppose if someone is doing amazingly well right now – folk will find it more difficult to believe them.
    And them going on about it too much would just make others more doubtful.

    Hi Liara – It certainly does.

    Hi Barbara – You have a lot of good mottos.

    Hi JD – that’s a good rule of thumb.

    Hi Barbara – That’s a good way to get more work :) And it’s smart. A few times, when I’ve wanted work doing, I’ve asked small business owners how busy they are.

    And when they start going on about how snowed under they are it puts me off asking, because I feel like I’m putting them under pressure and also they won’t have time to do my job properly.

    Hi Sara – Thank you. And that is so true – you can be real without crying and still be positive.

  24. Green Bay Car Dealerships on May 1st, 2009 12:01 am

    These are good tips, its important not to turn people off.

  25. Robin on May 2nd, 2009 12:43 am

    Hi Cath – it certainly makes sense to be tactful about things, doesn’t it?! I guess anyone successful in business will tune in intuitively to how they need to present themselves – for the others, can they learn? Glad to see you, Cath!

    Robin’s last blog post..Life And Teaching Of The Masters Of The Far East

  26. KayoticOne on May 2nd, 2009 3:16 pm

    Wow! Great stuff here! I am new to all of this but everywhere I read there is so much GOOD advice! So many great people in this world! Thank You!

    KayoticOne’s last blog post..Yes I Like to Bitch!

  27. Ang on May 5th, 2009 7:58 pm

    Great post! The last thing I want to do is give a company making tons of money…even more money. I’d much rather help businesses that are struggling. Not that they should pretend to be struggling if they’re doing well….I think everything would be better if they would follow your advice. :)

    Ang’s last blog post..A Star with a Comet’s Tail

  28. canli izle on May 6th, 2009 12:33 am

    It requires tact and intuition to sense how to respond appropriately in each situation. Generalizing is not always wise.

    canli izle’s last blog post..261 Metreden ?stanbul

  29. Stacey / Create a Balance on May 6th, 2009 2:43 am

    I like what you said about being fashionable. People want to interact with people they can relate to. We need to show confidence and credibility (that we are running a success business) and we also have to communicate how we are also being financially mindful.

    Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..Authentic Happiness Series – Part Four (Career)

  30. When to Give Financial Advice? on May 19th, 2009 11:01 am

    [...] Lawson wrote a great post for small business owners and freelancers called Quit Bragging About Your Booming Business. She warns against exaggerating or even acknowledging your business’s success in these tough [...]

  31. dogatemyfinances on May 19th, 2009 1:56 pm


    You like buying from sinking businesses? Ones that aren’t really sure if they’re succeeding?

    I always buy from businesses with a pile of cash. It means they deliver and they do their job.

    Only a woman would write an article about diluting your success. This would never even occur to men. Dilute your prices maybe in tight times, but not your success.

    dogatemyfinances’s last blog post..Buying? Maybe?

  32. cathlawson on May 20th, 2009 10:00 am

    Hi Robin – Intuition is important isn’t it.

    Hi Ang – A lot of people are skint right now and like you, I’m betting they’d rather help other people who are struggling.

    Hi Canli – exactly, each situation is different.

    Hi Stacey – It’s sad but true – fashion is always important.

    Dude without a real name – Can you even read? This article said nothing about diluting your success. Only a man could write such a sexist comment.

    Did you know – keywords stuffing, instead of using your real name in a comment is seen as spam. Successful businesses wouldn’t use such amateur practices.

  33. Quit Bragging | Business Idea of the Day on November 10th, 2009 10:55 pm

    [...] bragging about your booming business to your customers be actually hurting you more? Cath Lawson wrote an article on how your customers may not like your bragging as much as you think they do. [...]

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