Blogs and social media are full of lists of inspiring tips to set you up for success in 2019. This blog post is not going to be one of them. Here are some ideas and expressions that I’m hoping won’t still be in use in 2020! I thought it might be fun to debunk some of the phrases and concepts we all use, without giving much thought to their meaning. It somehow seems appropriate for the uncertainty and just plain bizarre nature of what’s going on in the world today.

Reaching out

This one really annoys me whenever I hear it. You reach for a glass of wine on a Friday night, grateful to have got through another week. How do you reach out? Out to where? It’s a phrase that means (I think) to contact someone with a view to gaining their cooperation, business and/or get them to do something for you for free. This last one happens a lot for the small business owner. So beware next time someone “reaches out” to you.

Be a thought leader

Another strange term and concept. You can become a thought leader just by engaging with certain marketing and branding agencies, and paying them a suitable fee. The invitation to become a thought leader regularly pops up in my Facebook feed. So does that make me a potential candidate? The algorithms in Facebook obviously think so.

“I don’t know any high-level person anywhere who isn’t described as a ‘thought-leader.’ Just having thoughts doesn’t make you a thought leader,” sensibly says Amanda Ponzar, chief marketing officer at Community Health Charities.

Get a side hustle

This is the idea that you can hold down a demanding day job and set up a thriving business on the side. This often means doing something for money that you previously did for pleasure. It implies that the only way to value things is financially. As all small business owners know, getting any business off the ground is a full time job. There’s also the thing that what you did for pleasure is now work. So it seems a lose lose to me – to paraphrase another annoying term.

Be a disruptor

It is often applied in the digital world and I found this definition on Wikipedia – where else? “In business, a disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. The term was defined…… 1995, and has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century.”

So there’s a mouthful of clichés. It seems to me that it’s about being in business and trying to carve out your space in the marketplace. As for the claim about being “the most influential business idea” etc., I think Josiah Wedgwood, 18th century entrepreneur, might have had something to say about that.

Thinking outside the box

This is linked to the previous term as being something you do to change things. I prefer sometimes to think inside the box. Think back on what has worked for you previously in your life and/or business and do it again. It might work again, or you might have to adapt it to make it work today. In any event you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be successful.


Not really (sorry!) a concept but I absolutely hate this term. It implies that you are incredulous that someone could hold a view that is contrary to yours. It is both a put down and dismissive at the same time. In my extensive research for this blog post, I found out that it was originally used in a sketch on Saturday Night Live on NBC. Really?!

So for 2019 I’ll be thinking inside the box and not being a thought leader. My hobbies will remain that and not a side hustle.  Except perhaps my new allotment, where I hope I’ll be giving away loads of lovely veg and fruit to any deserving cause/friends. And I’ll be reaching out to all you disruptors when I launch my online retail course later this year.

Happy Retailing!
© Retail Renewal 08/02/19

Retail Renewal offers practical solutions for the ever-evolving challenges of running a retail business today. Find out more on If you’d like to get in touch with Retail Renewal about your shop or retail project please give Linda a call on 086 8146949. Let us help you to grow your business and your profits.

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