We’re all aware of an unwritten code of business conduct that, if broken, can have some very unpopular reactions: showing up late to a meeting or checking a BlackBerry when someone is presenting, for instance, will always be a bad idea.

However, some of these conventions really don’t have a firm grounding in common sense: should a handshake really count as a signal that a deal has been done? Should we feel that being tied to our desks makes the best impression on our employers, when really we can sometimes be more productive away from the office? Is it still necessary to hand out business cards in an age of electronic communication?…

I decided to put the spotlight on some of these more illogical conventions in a survey of 1,500 small business leaders. The results revealed how small businesses are increasingly challenging traditional approaches to work such as those below:

  1.  Small businesses are judged by the size of their workforce: According to 58% of those surveyed, the number of staff a company has is no longer considered a benchmark of success. This may well be a sign of the times, as remote workers and one man bands are now able to punch above their weight through a polished website, effective service and online tools, etc…
  2.  Swanky offices are a sign of a successful organisation: More than a third (39%) disagree with the idea that the size, design and location of a company’s office reflects the success of its business, suggesting a shift to a more casual coffee shop meeting or home office is becoming acceptable.
  3.  “Shaking on it” is a formal sign of an agreement: Half (50%) of business leaders agree that a handshake can no longer be classed as binding. This means keeping things in writing is now more important than ever!
  4.  Those who stay the latest are the most productive workers: A clear majority of business leaders (94%) now judge staff by the results they achieve rather than time spend in the office.
  5.  Education is everything: 41% of business managers do not think that a good education means a good employee, revealing that they are prepared to look beyond the grades on a candidate’s CV.
  6.  Young business leaders aren’t to be trusted: Approximately one half (47%) of those surveyed do not believe you must be over a certain age to be trusted as a business leader. The likes of Glasses Direct’s Jamie Murray Wells have shown that being business savvy is down to more than just experience…
  7.  Setting up a venture with a family member is risky territory: Almost 40% of businesses owners no longer see an issue with going into business with friends or family.
  8.  Nine to five are the accepted working hours: Nearly half (49%) of those small business leaders surveyed said they do not believe in the traditional 9-5 working day, while over a third (36%) disagree with the traditional idea of the working week lasting from Monday to Friday, reflecting the growth of flexible working and the constant availability that mobile technology offers to today’s workforce.
  9.  Business cards are a must-have accessory: Long gone are the days of exchanging business cards being a necessary formality. Only 2% of business leaders feel they are important to be taken seriously as a business person.
  10.  It’s all work and no play: Being a small business leader is often seen as meaning you have less time to enjoy life. It appears this isn’t absolutely the case: two thirds (66%) of small business owners are happy with their work/life balance.