SorrySmall business owners and entrepreneurs tend to like to think out of the box.  I’m all for that.  However, that means that sometimes, we get things backwards, often with unintended consequences.  This includes knowing when to apologize.

When NOT to Apologize

As an entrepreneur, it’s not a good idea to apologize when you are introducing or marketing your business.  I cannot believe how many times I meet entrepreneurs who put themselves and their businesses down to virtual stranger.  Here are some recent and ongoing examples that I have seen.

I know this may sound weird, but my business does x….

When I am speaking at events, I have had numerous entrepreneurs approach me.  When I ask them what their business does, they preface the explanation by telling me that it may sound weird.  It usually doesn’t (and if it does, that can be a good thing), but it puts the entrepreneur on the defensive and plants a negative idea with the other party.

It’s not that interesting, but I have a business that….

Well, if you don’t think that your business is that interesting, why should I think it is?  You should always portray your business from a place of strength.  Saying that you don’t find it interesting makes me think that you have no confidence (and a business that’s uninteresting), before I even hear the meat of what you do.

I got lucky…

Now personally, as the old saying goes, I would rather be lucky than good.  But in reality, most of us make a good percentage of our luck through a lot of diligence and hard work.  Discounting what you have done intentionally doesn’t inspire others or make them feel like you have the ability to execute.

Don’t look at my picture, it’s awful.

So, a very nice woman approaches me with a sincere compliment at an event and hands me her business card.  Then, she practically swats at my hand as I turn it over.  “Don’t look at my picture; it’s awful.”  The picture was fine, so I thought that she was insecure.  Moreover, if you don’t like it, then get new cards.  They don’t cost very much.

When TO Apologize

If you’ve been a shmuck, dropped the ball, provided lousy service or anything along those lines, then it’s time to bring out the apologies. But let me tell you, talk is cheap.  Actions always speak louder than words, so if you want to make something right, do something and follow through.

So, kind of like knowing when to hold ‘em and fold ‘em, apologize when your actions and inactions warrant it, but don’t apologize for who you are, where you are or your perception of what expectations should be.