Did you know that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months? Shocking right? Many people believe that the most important things to worry about when starting a business are to be their own boss, keep their own work hours, chase their dreams and worry about everything else once business has got going. However, for most small business owners the majority of difficult and costly decisions happen within the first year. Here is a list of 12 business mistakes that you may have either experienced or need to keep a wary eye out for in the future.
EXPECTING OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
Running a successful business could be compared to losing weight; it takes hard work, dedication and there’s no overnight solution. When you start a business you need to be aware that obtaining customers, developing a loyal audience and creating a substantial brand takes time and effort. As Eddie Cantor said “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success”.
LOSING YOUR DRIVE
In order to have a successful business you have to stay driven and continue to follow the changes within you industry. In this industry that means following everything from camera equipment releases to photography trends to social media updates. If you don’t have that competitive drive to be the best at your craft, it’s going to be hard to become successful.
NOT LETTING GO
Optimism is a great quality to have in business. However, if a product or service you are offering is only hindering your company, sometimes the best thing to do is let it go. Think of “calling it quits” as a refining process. By letting go of something that isn’t working, you can put the time, effort and money you’ve saved into starting a new project or venture.
TURNING DOWN PAID WORK
Sometimes you need to take a risk. Some of the best projects and portfolio items come through an unexpected client that stretches your creativity and forces you to try something new. If someone wants to work with you and are willing to pay the full cost of your services, why turn them down? This should be the case regardless of how long you’ve been in business. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Steve Tobak wrote an article covering this topic a couple of months ago and he concluded with this advice;
If you like living hand-to-mouth, be selective about your business and your customers. But if you have bigger goals for your business and your life, look at each potential customer as an exciting new opportunity. Listen, learn and adapt. That’s the path to success.
BEING UNABLE TO ACCEPT CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
So much time, energy and love goes into starting and running a business, at times it can be hard to separate yourself from something that you’ve invested so much into. It’s easy to become defensive when someone suggests something different to what you envisioned or gives you criticism on choices you’ve made. But learning to listen to the advice and feedback of others is one of the best traits you can acquire as a business owner. Also remember to always follow-up constructive criticism by asking what that person would have done differently or what they would suggest instead.
NOT HAVING A WORKFLOW
As a business owner you wear a lot of different hats. You need to be a CEO, the front of house, a secretary, the customer help desk, the editing department and an account manager. This is almost impossible to accomplish if you don’t have a system or process in place to help you get all those tasks done. In order to work efficiently, you need to create a workflow. This means making a list of your client process, blogging process, social media process, setting office hours and sticking to them and using a time block system within your schedule to make sure you get everything done on time.
OBSESSING OVER EVERY DETAIL
In business it’s always a good idea to seek the best. However, if you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity or solution, you could be waiting a lifetime. While it’s great to think business decisions through and to exercise some form of wisdom, obsessing over every detail can stop you getting things done and wastes time. If you are known to be a perfectionist and maybe spend a little longer than necessary on making decisions or finishing up a project, try to set a time limit.
PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET
It’s always a risk to put all your eggs in one basket, especially when it comes to business. Social media is a great way of reaching your ideal audience for free, however the platforms change so rapidly! If you’re only focusing your attention on one social media platform, you’re putting a lot of faith in that platform not changing. For example, entrepreneurs who mainly use Facebook to reach their audience will have noticed a rapid decline in their posts reaching their followers. This is because Facebook have introduced promoted posts, meaning you have to pay for your posts to reach your audience. Pinterest have also followed suit with promoted pins, Twitter ads are becoming more frequent and sponsored posts are popping up more regularly on Instagram. To safeguard against this, it’s best to spread your efforts among a few different platforms. Equally, it’s a good idea to stay up to date with the platforms you choose to use, making sure you’re aware of the latest social media trends and updates so that your business can stay relevant despite changes.
LACKING A BUSINESS PLAN
You won’t survive in business if you’re just winging it. A business plan is crucial in order to keep your head above water both financially and in terms of your business goals. If you’re effectively flying by the seat of your pants with no idea of budgets, marketing strategies or goals then you will no doubt hit upon inconsistencies, confusion amongst potential customers and financial stress. Believe me, a little planning goes a long way in business.
TRYING TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE
If you to try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. If you want to run a successful business you need to specialise, narrow your focus and zero in on your niche. Start by writing a mission statement (it only needs to be a couple of sentences) and considering your target audience. For example; theimagefile’s mission statement is to provide beautiful websites for photographers with online sales, proofing, sales tools and WordPress blog. With each decision you make for your business, whether that be to launch a new product, start a collaboration, revamp your design or write a new blog post, make sure it fits in with your mission statement and benefits your ideal customer. Not only will this help you specialise but it will also provide consistency and intention within your business.
So many business owners don’t realise the potential and benefits created by blogging. By consistently providing valuable content on a blog you are creating more opportunities for customers to find you, to build trust and to turn into paying clients. If you’re trying to get your business started and your budget is small, blogging is one of the best things you can do for your business.
DOING EVERYTHING YOURSELF
As we mentioned before, you wear many hats as an entrepreneur, especially when you first start in business. While doing everything yourself may make sense financially, you can risk burning yourself out quickly and stretching yourself thin. Delegating tasks or outsourcing parts of your business to others can be a life-saver for you and your company. You can do this in a number of ways. You could hire a virtual assistant to help with admin tasks, hire an intern to take on simple but time consuming responsibilities or outsource printing and editing duties to other businesses.
What is a business mistake you have made in the past? Are there any mistakes that could be added to this list?