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Thought Leadership

In the excitement of growing a new business, you may promise a customer that you will do something that—as bad luck would have it— you can’t actually do. It’s called an overpromise, and if you do this too often, it will have a devastating impact on your business. 

You had the best intentions…

Of course, you were sincere when you made the overpromise. At the time, you thought it was doable. You were eager to please, driven to succeed, and wanted more than anything to make your clients, employees and vendors happy. Meet that deadline by next Wednesday? Sure, no problem. Want a bump in pay after 90 days? You got it! The reality is, you’re still new to the challenges of entrepreneurship, and sometimes despite very good intentions, even best-laid plans can go awry. 

Overpromising’s Impact on You

Aside from breaking trust with a client or employee, overpromising can put excessive stress on you. The panic and overwhelm you feel when you realize you can’t do what you said you would can be debilitating. Maybe you rush to meet a deadline and end up sacrificing quality, time and money. Or maybe you work through dinner, lose sleep and get impatient with your spouse, children or employees. Overpromising puts unnecessary pressure on you, your team and your family. And the irony is that what you have overpromised might not even be that important to your customer.

Be Realistic

Instead of overpromising or overcommitting, be practical and realistic about what you think you can actually deliver. If you don’t have the funds to provide twenty samples of a product up front, say so. If offering a certain benefits package to a potential key employee is too much for you to handle, offer what you can afford now with a promise to reappraise the situation in a year. And if you find you’ve overcommitted, apologize, correct your error, and scale back to avoid issues in the future. 

So do a really good job of only promising what you can deliver, because the physical, emotional and financial stress long term can be incredibly damaging. Stress will overcome you eventually if you don’t control it. While it is important to push yourself and your business to reach new heights, sacrificing quality, performance or the well-being of your family or team for initial sales is a sure-fire way to fail. Ever heard the saying “Under-promise, over-deliver”? There’s something to be said for managing expectations. Promise yourself that you won’t overpromise.

Do you have an “overpromise” story in your own business? Share with us on Facebook and Instagram!