The Sweet Smell of Imaginary AdvancementHappy Valentine’s Day! Can you feel the love tonight?

The sharks are really in the water when it comes to social networking sites these days. The rise and fall of the most popular ones is cyclic, though, and it follows a predictable model:

Social media sites use a single feature or function (chat, file-sharing, photo manipulation and storage, profile-based connectivity) to attract users. Once people show up, the site managers invariably start introducing software add-ons and applications (games, apps, new storage features, new communication options) to increase the functionality of the site, trying to satisfy all potential user needs by creating a “one-stop-shopping” model. That works until things get too cluttered, servers slow down under the increased work load of expanding bandwidth requirements, controls get too complex, and frustration takes hold among longtime users until eventually the whole social media site hits a flashpoint where users give up on it, splitting away onto NEW single purpose (chat, file-sharing, photo manipulation and storage, profile-based connectivity) social media services… until one emerges as the new popular front-runner, beginning the process again.

Initial success isn’t always a good thing; growth problems are still problems. When one starts something— especially a business— it makes sense to grow that business no faster than you can do so while properly supporting it. Too many inexperienced business owners succumb to the lure of the fast buck, and wind up swamping their business by biting off a bigger workload than they can chew. The end result is unfulfilled orders, broken contracts and disappointed customers. It’s never fun to be constantly on the receiving end of indignant anger from a formerly-contented client base.

Worse still is when you’re employed by an entrepreneur who consistently misjudges what can be achieved with the resources at hand, yet passes the consequences of poor planning down the line to junior employees. The first place an overwhelmed employer will look to keep his business afloat is employee wages, illegally squeezing them down to an illegal sub-minimum pittance (concealed and kept “off the books.”) That type of misbehavior also includes skimping on equipment and materials and ignoring common sense safety regulations. When such lapses negatively affect the end product and customers express dissatisfaction, some such employers will even chicken-shittedly hide when angry clients, cheated out of promised services, express disgust at having been purposely misled. Worst is when the owner avoids the work site completely, abandoning the confused, underpaid, sub-minimum-wage employees to face the customer ‘s wrath and take the blame for it.

Such self-proclaimed “entrepreneurs” seriously have no business being IN business. Such incompetence and gross inability to behave responsibly by meeting even minimal standards of honest trade gives small businesses everywhere a bad rep.

If you can’t afford to run your business honestly and properly, then you can’t afford to run your business. Period. Scale down your operations or shut the whole mess down. But stop insisting it’s somehow your right to ignore employment laws and engage in your trade without exhibiting the merest shred of professionalism or common decency.

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or… you can always get “too big to fail.” I hear that’s the best way to go on perpetuating gross job incompetence these days.