Starting a business isn’t always easy. There are so many things to think about and decisions to make. At the end of the day, there’s no doubt that you’ll make some mistakes as you go about the process of starting your business, and there’s nothing wrong with that (especially if you can learn from them). This being said, however, with all of the historical experience of other businesses and entrepreneurs, one of the most advantageous actions you can take for your business is to learn from the common small business mistakes they’ve made. This way, you’ll be putting your best foot forward and you’ll have the freedom to make your own mistakes that future business owners can then learn from.
MOST COMMON SMALL BUSINESS MISTAKES
FAILING TO PLAN: Planning may be tedious but you will only be operating in the dark without a solid plan for your ideal business. Without a business plan to guide your startup and growth, you’ll only struggle to make decisions, get loans, or bring investors on board.
NEGLECTING MARKET RESEARCH: Market research is an integral step in a successful business development effort, whether you are part of a startup, launching a new product, or rebranding your business.
When you skip out on market research, you miss valuable opportunities that will help your business in the long run. Successful business owners know their markets, understand their competitors’ and customers’ wants and needs, and gather all the information necessary for their businesses to be competitive. They know why people buy their products and services, not just when or where. Neglecting to do market research can result in indecision and inaction, fear of risk or the truth, and/or too many options, which can lead to paralysis.
NOT HAVING A WEBSITE: If you’re a business owner on the fence about creating a website, I’ll save you some time—you need one. A good one. A professionally designed, lead catching, sales-increasing, brand-differentiating website.
- 30 PERCENT OF CONSUMERS WON’T CONSIDER A BUSINESS WITHOUT A WEBSITE: Your website is your number one marketing asset because we live in a digital age. People spend on average 6 hours online per week and are on their mobile devices for up to five hours per day. By now, consumers expect companies to have an online presence (including a website) and will consider a company that DOESN’T have one as less professional.
- PEOPLE ARE SEARCHIN FOR YOU ONLINE: One of the benefits of having a website for small businesses is to be where your consumers are. There’s a reason so many companies invest in a website with search engine optimization (SEO): 97 percent of people go online to find a local business, and 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Believe it or not, there are 3.5 billion searches on Google per day, and at this very moment, there is someone in your area online and searching for your exact service.
- THE MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS USE WEBSITE TO FIND AND ENGAGE WITH BUSINESSES: According to LSA’s (Local Search Association) April 2017 report, “The Digital Consumer Study,”63 percent of consumers primarily use a company’s website to find and engage with businesses. That’s a pretty big chunk of consumers. Combine that with the fact that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine—you do the math.
- IT WILL HELP YOU BEAT THE GOLIATHS IN YOUR INDUSTRY:
WAITING TOO LONG TO SEEK FINANCING: Finding your business financing can be time-consuming, and if you wait until you really need the money, you may be forced to settle for less-than-ideal options.
Solution: Stay on top of your cash flow and create ongoing financial forecasts. This helps you spot potential cash crunches well in advance, so you can take steps to seek capital early on. Applying for financing while your business finances are still in good shape boosts your chances of approval.
NOT MAKING A COMMITMENT: Starting a business requires a number of success-oriented character traits such as drive, dedication, and a serious sense of commitment. Small business owners need to be willing to make sacrifices, put in the time necessary, and face challenges head-on if they want their businesses to be successful.
NOT KNOWING WHO YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER IS: One vital part of any successful marketing campaign is understanding who your ideal customer is. It’s not enough to create a marketing budget and try a little bit of everything. You need to do market research to identify who you are trying to reach, where you can find them, and how they will react to your marketing activities.
NOT SETTING SMART GOALS: Goals can give you direction when you first start your business, then keep you on track during the day-to-day operations. By making sure your goals are SMART goals, you can identify where you want to go and outline specific steps that you will take to get there.