frustrated - biz mistakes

9 Small Business Mistakes that Hinder Growth and Profit

While experience can be a great teacher, learning from someone else’s experience can save you time, money and a lot of frustration – especially when it comes to growing your small business. So here are some common business mistakes you want to avoid or fix.

Mistake #1: I Can Do It On My Own

Most of us became entrepreneurs because we are experts or skilled at something and believed we could do it better than competitors or maybe our current boss. But building a successful business requires more than technical know-how. None of us are experts at everything – so surround yourself with other experts to fill the gaps. Whether you hire employees, sub-contract work, create joint ventures, work with coaches/consultants or develop strategic alliances – the support you need is available. Avoid this costly business mistake. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Mistake #2: Keeping Your Business a Secret

Today, a website is a must-have for a small business. It is a great equalizer and can build credibility for you, your company and products. But it only pays off if people who want your products and services can find you. As a small business owner, search engine optimization with relevant keywords and content must be a priority. Use social media and other marketing tactics drive people to your site too!

Mistake #3: Creating Confusion With Potential Buyers

When starting a business, the goal typically looks like this:  generate sales for your core products or services as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary. But if sales for core products are slower than expected, many begin dabbling with additional products or services to generate more revenue. Too many dissimilar products or different messages can leave people wondering what you do and why they should choose to buy from you. Focus on your core strengths and build from there.

Mistake #4: Great Products The Market Doesn’t Want

The best products or services will go unsold if you are talking to the wrong people – those who will likely never buy! Investing your time and money promoting your products or services to people who don’t have the resources, authority or need, today or in the near future, is both frustrating and costly. Who are the ideal customers for YOUR products and services? Be clear on this, find out where they are, how to reach them and then apply your resources to pull them in.

Mistake #5: Talk More Than You Listen

If you want to earn a customer’s business, you need to solve their problem or fill a need. So before you jump into your sales pitch, take the time to ask questions, listen carefully and determine what the customer needs. Your features and benefits are only relevant when they solve a customer’s problem or fill a need. Successful people tend to be good listeners – so you’ll achieve greater success when you spend less time talking and more time listening! Remember, technology and markets change, so keep your pulse on what customers need and adjust accordingly.

Mistake #6: No Follow-Up

Investing resources to generate leads for your company without a proven method to convert them into paying customers is costly. Whether potential customers come to you by phone, email, online or in person, a system for consistent and timely follow-up is a key to sales growth. Take the time to develop a procedure for moving prospects to customers. Take advantage of technology to ensure your process is both efficient and effective. Be consistent and watch your sales soar.

Mistake #7: Disjointed or No Procedures

Documented procedures for all the critical tasks and operations is a key to efficiency, consistency, continuous improvement and profitability. Yet despite the benefits, it’s ignored by many small businesses. This mistake becomes obvious when you hire and train new people, attempt to outsource or start losing customers due to poor service or missed deadlines. Take it one at a time, but make written procedures a priority in your business. The results will surprise you. My Ultimate Systems Guide makes it easy to start building systems and procedures in your small business.

Mistake #8: Hiring on the Fly

“Quick to hire and slow to fire” describes many small businesses. A strong team of people to support your business is certainly important – but only if they are the right people. There are proven hiring systems and tools, including a job description and clear goals, to help small businesses attract and retain quality people. Always hire with a purpose, invest in training, commit to developing your team and be willing to let go of those who don’t fit. Need an easy way to get the word out when you are hiring? Indeed.com is a great solution for small business owners.

Mistake #9: Roller Coaster Marketing

For many small businesses, marketing activities and spending look like a roller coaster, up and down based on how busy you are or how sales are doing. If your marketing is sporadic, your results will likely be the same. The key to attracting and retaining customers is consistency. It is better to do 5-6 lead generation strategies well and consistently than doing 10-20 of them periodically. And remember, marketing to existing customers is just as important as new business marketing — so incorporate both into your marketing efforts.

Which of these mistakes is impacting your growth and profit? Make it a priority to fix them – one at a time, if necessary. The sooner you do, the sooner your sales and profit will grow. And isn’t that why you are in business in the first place?

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Selling: 7 Do’s & Don’ts to Get More Customers

Are you a natural when it comes to selling? Were you born to sell? We’ve all met people who are awesome at sales, and they make it look so easy. But they were not born with sales skills. They learned and developed them. And you can too.

So whether you sell for someone else or your own business, here’s some ways to get more paying customers from your selling efforts.

Do Have Goals. Most sales people and owners have goals tied to results – how much revenue you need to generate. But results come from activities such as phone calls, events, meetings, presentations, proposals, etc. So make sure you set activity goals to support your sales or revenue objectives – and break them down to monthly, weekly or even daily requirements. Then do them!

Do Ask ‘Smart’ Questions. If you want to demonstrate knowledge or expertise, don’t tell them, ask them. Smart questions not only help you uncover needs, but make it obvious to prospects that you understand their business or personal challenges. It builds trust and positions you as someone who can help them create the best solution – your products or services.

Do Listen More Than You Speak. Some of the most successful sales people are perceived by others to be quiet, because they listen, ask questions and listen some more. To understand what motivates your prospects, you must really listen with an open mind and no assumptions. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak. It really pays off in sales.

Don’t Sell. Nobody likes to be sold, but most of us like to buy. Sales come from building trust and educating prospects on benefits and value. So stop selling and you will sell more.

Do Have a Sales System. This doesn’t mean a series of silly questions, pre-conceived notions or a cookie cutter script. It does mean a process or series of steps to move prospects from initial point of contact (lead) to paying customer, consistently and efficiently. Most sales require multiple contacts via phone, mail, email, meetings or presentations, before closing the sale. Your system will vary based on your business and the services you offer; but every sales person and business needs a system to generate new business and keep the pipeline full.

Do Be Persistent. I read somewhere that most sales people give up after one or two follow-up calls, but most sales occur after seven or eight contacts. Notice the obvious gap? Persistence doesn’t mean hound your prospects, but you should follow up until your get a yes or no decision. Also recognize that a ‘no’ today doesn’t mean forever. So have a method to periodically check in or stay connected because your ideal prospects will buy when they are ready, willing and able to do so.

Do Be Confident. It is often said that in sales you need to go in there and assume the sale, meaning be confident, not cocky. Confidence comes from two things. First, you must believe you have the skills to uncover customer needs and develop the best solutions. Second, you have the products or services to help your customers solve their problems or pain. Remember, you have to believe you can before you ever will.

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