Starting a business may be challenging. But sustaining success and building a business that really works for you is likely more difficult. Why? Because what helped you succeed early is often different years later. You need to make adjustments. Owners who do, stay in business. Those that don’t become another sad statistic.
7 Common Small Busines Mistakes To Avoid
1: I Can Do It All
You probably started your business because you had a skill and the confidence to do a better job than other competitors or maybe your current employer. But it takes more than technical know-how to win in business. Assess your personal strengths. Then surround yourself with others to fill the skill or knowledge gaps. Whether you hire employees, sub-contract work, develop power partners or hire a coach or consultant, the support you need is available. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
2: Confusing Customers
Without customers, you don’t have a business. It’s true and explains the focus new business owners put on sales, any sale to anybody. But this ‘never turn away an opportunity’ attitude often creates too many disjointed products, services, messages, and targets. It leads to one thing, customer confusion. And confused people rarely buy or refer others! Focus on your core strengths – what are you really good at and why should they choose you? Build your reputation on this and grow from there.
3: New Customers Are Priceless
That’s why we gladly go out and buy them! Whether we use discounts, free stuff or anything in between. It works. But the strategy only pays off if you keep them and serve them profitably. Be clear on who you want and invest your money to get them. When you do, solve their problems, wow them with service and never take them for granted. Sounds easy – but here’s the challenge. Be willing to say no or turn away customers who simply don’t fit. You’ll never make them happy and they’ll rarely make you rich!
4: We Are Small, We Talk
It’s the most common excuse when it comes to written systems and procedures. Big companies certainly have them, but small businesses need them just as much, if not more. Surprised? It’s not uncommon for employees in small businesses to wear a lot of different hats, requiring a variety of skills and knowledge. Some cross-train employees, most do not. But if procedures aren’t written down, it’s difficult for another team member to simply step in when others are away or leave. That alone is a good reason to write down procedures.
Here’s another. When you take the time to write down how things get done in YOUR business, you help others replicate what you want and then do so consistently and efficiently. When you review your systems with an emphasis on how we can do it better, you will uncover opportunities for improvement and increased profit. Everyone wins. You make more money, customers get what they expect and employees feel empowered through their contributions.
5: Quick to Hire, Slow to Fire
It’s not unusual for small businesses to view the team as family. It’s a strength, but can also be a weakness. Getting the right people to support your business is important. A good hiring system that includes a full job description with clear expectations and goals is a good start. It should be used for all hires – even the ones that are family or family friends! Once on board, invest the time to train them. Written procedures really help here! Make their personal growth and development a priority. Be the leader they need you to be.
With that said, a good system and your commitment and best effort will work most of the time. But we’re human. We have all made bad hiring decisions at one time or another. Perhaps the newly hired employee lacked some skill you thought they had. Or maybe he/she was not dependable or simply didn’t fit with your culture. Whatever the reason, doing nothing is not a good option. Be willing to let them go.
6: I Can Get All The Leads I Want When I Want
Like most things in business, you can if you throw enough resources at it. But is that what you really want — a lot of high-cost leads? Successful marketing has less to do with what you spend and more to do with the consistency of your actions. Turning your marketing off and on when things slow down or sales drop is expensive – but also less effective. It is better to do 5-6 marketing activities well and often versus 10-12 periodically. Develop a marketing plan, with a variety of tasks you do every week and month, and you will keep the flow of quality leads coming – at a cost that will make you smile.
7: My Accountant Handles That
If you own the business, you own the numbers. As a trusted advisor, your accountant provides the financial reporting and tax guidance you need for compliance and success. And a bookkeeper can certainly eliminate the burden of day-to-day record keeping. Delegate, but never abdicate. Whether good or bad, the numbers tell you how you are doing and what you can improve. They help you make good decisions that impact all areas of the business. A good accountant will gladly explain and teach you if you want to learn. Time to embrace the numbers. Successful business owners do!
Related: 5 Skills To Take You From Technician to Entrepreneur
Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?
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To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com