The concept of proper grammar and basic English skills have fallen by the wayside in American education, replaced with a dependence on auto-correct features and grammar checkers on word processing programs. For the renegade entrepreneur trying to make her way along the perilous mountain highway of the business world, a lack of grammatical skills and other fundamental building blocks of the English language can be more detrimental than previously imagined.
If the concept of a homonym is lost on you, or you aren’t certain which weather causes a rain delay in your meeting, you are at risk of participating in one of the biggest entrepreneurial blunders you can possibly make. Nothing will give you, and your company, a poorer image than incorrect homonym usage. Before you know what has happened, your carefully planned out email to that important client ends up making you look uneducated or unprofessional.
The problem with the homonym is one that is commonly overlooked by spelling check programs. If there is one lesson that you can take away from today’s article, it is simply this: the spelling check program on your computer, smart phone, or tablet is only capable of alerting you to words that are not spelled correctly. If you have the wrong word spelled in the right way, your spelling check program will skip right over it and continue on its hunt for incorrectly spelled words.
In the meantime, your homonym misuse gives the recipient of your work a chuckle at best, and may even end up causing you to lose clients. The homonym, words that sound alike but have different meanings and correct spellings, will end up making you, and by extension your company, look like an uneducated newcomer to the entrepreneurial scene. Some clients may chuckle as you discuss the “bear necessities” of doing business, but others may find your comment about “depending on weather we can get are products completed inn thyme” to be an outright insult to their seriousness as a business partner.
To prevent homonym disasters, reread your work carefully. Keep a dictionary close at hand, and pause to look up any word that you’re not 100% certain of. You will learn the difference between principle and principal, and understand which you don’t want your child visiting. You may even pick up on the reason why we compliment the complements at an office dinner party.
Another concept that escapes the struggling entrepreneur is one concerning the grammar checking option provided with common word processing programs. For those who don’t know better, the assumption that the familiar green squiggly line indicates a grammatical oversight in a sentence can become a business communications booby trap.
Proper grammar isn’t about pairing commas together or knowing whether to include quotation marks around the title of your latest ebook publication. Using correct grammar means that you concentrate on creating written forms of communication that are easy to read and comprehend, all without leaving any partial sentences hanging about with a period incorrectly dropped where a comma should be dangled instead.
Using grammar correctly means that you should take the time to re-read everything before you send it off. Whether the item in question is a simple email or a detailed expense report that is heading toward the eyes of your investors, you should give every written item that you or your company produces the same level of importance at the proofreading stage.
Correcting grammatical oversights doesn’t require an advanced degree in English. A little common sense will serve you well in this department. Read over every sentence you have constructed with patience, and be alert for anything that seems out of place. If a sentence feels like it is too long, break it down into multiple sentences. If a comma feels like it should be a period instead, change it. Make certain every sentence has a subject and a verb. If you can follow these three simple rules before hitting the send button, you can prevent the majority of grammatical mistakes from slipping past you.
Ultimately, it will be your word choices that give your business partners the impression of professionalism when they think about your business. Entrepreneurs commonly try to fill their communications with excessively long and detailed words. They trust that their recipients will be impressed by the sheer volume of multi-syllabic words they have managed to cram between a capital letter and a period. This isn’t so.
There is a careful balance between word complexity and communication readability. To put it simply, if you flood your emails with unnecessarily long words, those who receive them will become overwhelmed by the sea of seeming nonsense. Rather than reaching for their dictionaries, they will choose to disregard your email or report altogether. By the same token, a certain degree of complexity is expected in business communications. If you resort to sentences with structures that resemble childhood “learn to read” books, you won’t be taken seriously in the world of business.
The best advice that we can give you when it comes to word choices is simply this: be yourself. You know how to speak in complex sentences, and you know how to write like you would naturally speak. Instead of trying to impress your investors and clients with exceedingly long and complicated words from the upper reaches of English knowledge, concentrate instead on impressing them with what you are communicating. Let your ideas speak for themselves, rather than become lost in a puzzle of letters that more closely resembles a GRE test page than a business communication attempt.
If you find the concept of writing for yourself to be one that is confusing and overwhelming, there are two basic choices you can use to keep yourself from looking like an uneducated fool: invest in a basic grammar class at a nearby community college, or hire a writer. Either way, your future communications will have the natural feeling that is required to make it in the business world.