10 Business mistakes – And how to avoid them

As the old saying goes, “nobody’s perfect”. Even the most seasoned business professionals regularly make mistakes, and that goes double for newbies who aren’t clued into the ins and outs of the business world. Entrepreneurship is a cut-throat environment, but we’re here to help you. Here are 10 common mistakes businesses make and how you can avoid them.

Business Decision Making

1. Neglecting personal life

Many business owners struggle to maintain the books within the first year or so of operation, and because of that they often neglect to look at their own personal finances. It’s important to keep these two things separate so you can get an accurate picture of the health of your finances at any given time. If you’re personally struggling, don’t hesitate to look for a high-quality personal loan, such as those offered by Step One Finance,to boost your fortunes while you work on your company.

2. Unrealistic goals – or no goals

When you’re a business owner, one of the most crucial things you can do is to set realistic, attainable goals for your enterprise. These goals include the amount of revenue you intend to bring in, the amount of staff you want to hire, key clients you’re targeting and more. Whatever you do, make sure your goals are achievable and appropriate for the level of business you’re operating on – it won’t do you any good to try and match Starbucks for profit if you’re an independent coffee house.

3. Lack of market research

Without knowing your demographic, there’s no way you can source appropriate products or understand how to build a marketing strategy. Ideally, before embarking on your business endeavour at all, you should have conducted exhaustive market research into your chosen industry (or read up extensively on your competitors to find out their strategies). If you don’t know where your business will fit in, you’re going to find it extremely hard to do business.

4. Lack of marketing

Nobody’s going to know what your product is or what it does until you tell them about it. Small business owners often don’t want to look invasive; they don’t want to impose themselves on unwilling customers and loudly market a product they’re not sure people will want. Here’s the golden rule of marketing: if customers really don’t want your product, they won’t buy it, but if they’re unsure, a great marketing campaign can sway them. Don’t worry about looking overeager, just make sure your product is out there.

5. Overstretched marketing campaigns

With that said, there is such a thing as “too much” when it comes to marketing. It’s possible to overstretch your marketing campaign and target too many disparate demographics. Doing so will make your campaign look watered-down and cynical. It’s not wrong to target multiple demographics, of course – just make sure that you devise individual marketing strategies for these audiences, because every audience will engage with a campaign in a different way.

6. Fear of innovation

If a technology or new strategy looks like it might work for you, don’t be afraid of it. Many businesses end up failing because they’re scared of adapting to change, and since we’re living in a post-digital technological society, change is happening at a rapid rate. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing, as well as businesses you admire from different sectors, and see how they’re keeping up with the latest developments in tech, social media and other areas.

7. Change for change’s sake

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That’s a saying with some problems – sometimes it needs to be broke to make it better – but by and large, if your strategy is working for you and you notice a competitor adapting to try and beat you, don’t simply follow the herd. See if there’s a way you can maintain your current business strategy without looking like you’re playing catchup with your rivals.

8. Neglecting customer service

It might seem tempting to simply disregard customers once you’ve dealt with them, but any good business will also have a sterling aftercare department. Dealing with customers who have previously availed you of your services and now have complaints or feedback is crucial, as these are the people who will review your business after the fact and potentially either draw new clients to you or turn them away. You need to make sure your customer aftercare is top-notch.

9. Disregarding security

“We’re just a small business,” goes the logic. “We don’t need to invest in decent security.” Nothing could be further from the truth. You need to make sure your information and documents are secure at all times, because corporate espionage is a real thing and could happen to you, especially if your business is doing well. Make sure you encrypt crucial information and don’t forget basic things like having a secure password on your business Wi-Fi connection.

10. Losing sight of the goal

Don’t forget why you started this business. You should be passionate about your industry at all times, and you should have a real interest in the area in which you’re doing business. If you’re a mobile phone retailer, it’s no good if your staff is made up of people who don’t know anything about the product; similarly, if your knowledge or expertise falls behind, it’ll show. Stay passionate, stay motivated and, above all, stay goal-orientated.

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