You’re creative, self-sufficient, and driven. That’s why you became an entrepreneur — you knew exactly what you wanted and went out to build it. But here’s something you may not know: Start-up companies often make very small mistakes that end up costing them big.
While all businesses are different, most of the reasons that startups fail are exactly the same. From lack of planning to poorly managed finances, we’ve gathered the top mistakes small business owners make so that you can avoid the stereotypical pitfalls.
1. You’re setting unrealistic goals.
More than just being a work plan for you and your staff, setting goals is a strong motivational tool for energizing your workplace. If you don’t set goals that are achievable, you and your team could lose steam before you even get started. Need help figuring out what makes a goal work? Here’s a great TED talk from John Doer about what makes a difference when setting realistic objectives.
2. You don’t have a marketing plan.
Marketing may seem like an expensive investment when you’re just getting started, but your business will 100% suffer if no one knows about you and what you do. From social media and blogging to networking in your community, don’t underestimate the power of getting your name out there.
3. You take too long to resolve problems.
Whether it’s avoidance or ignorance, taking too long to resolve an issue can cause a problem to fester. Once it gets to that phase, you and your team might find it hard to move past the issue. From not keeping up with the automation tools you need to succeed to never fixing the water cooler in the conference room, a company that refuses to adapt to problems will find itself stuck over and over again.
4. You’re careless with the budget.
It’s important to know when you need to save when you need to spend, and how to keep track of everything in between. While you may not need a bookkeeper just yet, we think it’s never too early to build a strong financial foundation for your business. After all, your financials are the single most important figures when it comes to expanding your offerings and moving forward — plus, having accurate books makes it easy to get investors and file your taxes come April. Want a couple of tips on how to get started? Here’s what you need to know.
5. You forget to highlight your strengths.
We totally get that running your own business is a time-consuming, all-encompassing endeavor. That’s exactly why we also understand how easy it is to get your main goal lost in the shuffle of everyday tasks. The problem? You can’t get ahead if your main messaging isn’t 100% focused. Always make sure your priority is focused on your strength (and also recognizing your weakness), and make those objectives as clear as possible. You’ll thank us later.
6. You got mixed up with the wrong investors.
Getting started requires capital, and that requires investors. To make an investor relationship as productive as possible, you need to document every transaction, agreement, and business contract on actual paper. It’s easy to get excited about securing the finances that will make your dream come true, but to keep moving forward, you need more than a handshake to seal the deal. So … paper trail, paper trail, paper trail!
7. You’re not valuing customer feedback.
If you need to get into one habit as a small business owner, it should be this one: Prioritize customer service. More than just listening to the feedback from your customers, you need to put each and every question, comment, and concern into a fully-actionable plan. Why? It’s going to make your business better. From sharing positive reviews on social (hello marketing!) to fixing your processes so that they’re as efficient as possible, it’s crucial that you make each experience with a customer fruitful for taking your business to the next level. If you need some inspiration for making your feedback work for you, here are the top 10 companies that putting their customers first.
You already did the hard part and started your own business. For the next steps, we hope these tips will help you be better prepared for building from the ground up.
Looking for more? We’ve got all of the small business and start-up resources you need to be successful the first time around. Plus, we’re always happy to chat one-on-one if you have unique questions. Email us at [email protected]