Small Business Traps to AvoidFebruary 18, 2010
by Terri Levine
Regardless of whether the “small business” is a one-man show or a small business with up to 10 employees, when starting out we tend to concentrate/focus on one or two areas of our business and either are unaware or just forget about the other areas. There are certain mistakes that are common to many entrepreneurs and small business owners – being aware of them is the first step to avoiding them!
Sales & Marketing – You need a Sales plan. It will assist you to gauge the financial progress of your business and provide information like where your sales will come from, how they’ll be achieved and who your buyers/customers are. And marketing your business is not merely a matter of placing an Ad in your local paper! You need a marketing plan to ensure you spend your marketing and advertising dollars wisely. You should know who your customers are and where to find them. Do your research and don’t skimp on this detail! Getting expert advice is money well spent!
Your Customers – You don’t only need to know who your customers are for marketing purposes, you need to keep up with who your customers are and keep in touch with them for continued business success. Have their needs or preferences changed? Are your competitors’ products meeting their needs better? What do your customers want and are you still providing that? What will they be likely to want in the future, and are you prepared for that?
Great Ideas – We all have great ideas but it is important not to put all your eggs in the one basket – especially if that basket has holes in it. Don’t get stuck on one idea – if it isn’t working, think about it for sure, just don’t invest all your time and money on it until it is “fool proof”. Try lots of different ideas to find out which ones are the most successful and will increase your business and wealth. Sometimes, a great idea is just that… a great idea… but in the “real world” it may not be practical or profitable. Realize there is a big difference between the possibility of an idea/action producing X results, and the reality of it… If you’re fabulously wealthy and can afford a few mistakes financially, then that’s different…
Money – New business owners can become gung-ho and invest crazily in everything to establish their business as quickly as possible, forgetting that it takes time to establish a business and customer database, and meanwhile, having spent all their money, they have nothing to sustain them during the quiet days ahead.
Always keep something in reserve to sustain your business until it is strong enough to sustain itself!
Employees – If you have employees, don’t take them for granted or overlook their needs just because your focus is on your business growth. Happy employees can make a business. Motivate them, encourage them, and reward them when you can. Ensure they know your products and business back to front so they can provide exceptional customer service!
Finally, quitting when the going gets tough… you don’t need me to list all the famously successful people (like Walt Disney, to name one) who failed spectacularly several times before hitting the big time and being a huge success. If you quit, your business will never be a success – it won’t have the chance. Give your business every chance. Treat failures as lessons – not reasons to quit. To paraphrase Einstein, all your mistakes are not failures – they are simply new ways you have learned not to do things. If you really think you should quit, get sound business advice first – there may be ways of salvaging and improving your business that you just don’t know about, and if the opposite is true, then it is important you find this out too… no point wasting your time, effort and money on whipping a dead horse! It may also be possible to “change” your business – move it into an area in which you can be successful.