Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes.Oscar Wilde
Running your own business is a whirlwind of triumphs and setbacks, successes and mistakes. And that’s OK – for as you know, mistakes are the best ways to learn.
But why put yourself through the wringer when you can learn from others? Here is our top ten list of common mistakes we’ve seen business owners make, and how you can avoid them:
1. Not knowing your WHY
If you haven’t yet seen the Simon Sinek video, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” we strongly suggest you take a quick 20 minutes to do so right now. What is it about your skills, your business, your situation that make you special and your business extraordinary? That’s the heart of your business.
2. Failing to document
Are you still living in the “wild west era” of your business – a time for lawlessness and experimentation in your protocols, for figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and how you determine the law of the land? Now is the time to start documenting your processes, numbers, and protocols. Pay attention to the daily ins and outs of your business. They’re more important than you realize.
3. Not worrying about your online presence
The term “google it” didn’t come about because it sounds fun. It is a very real and very important aspect of our lives. When you google yourself or your company – how does it look? Never underestimate the power of your online presence. Website is #1, followed by your presence on social media. People WILL type your name into their search bar. Don’t let them be disappointed by what they find.
4. Not knowing your numbers
The fear of reality of numbers. Do not, under any circumstances, assume that everything is working itself out in the background while you are actively avoiding looking over your numbers. You must devote time to buckle down, run your numbers, look over your accounts, and make sure you’re not deep in the red. And if you just can’t stomach the thought of doing it on your own, there is always help available.
5. Ignoring Marketing Trends
Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Pay attention to what you’re drawn to. Are you using all the avenues at your disposal – especially in an increasingly online world? Keep an eye on what’s happening in the world around you. And if you really need help, don’t sleep on contacting a marketing professional. They can help you more than you know.
6. Not charging what you’re worth
This is another all-too-common mistake we see. The thought process being…in order to compete, you need to undercut all the competitions prices and completely undersell yourself. When setting your price structure, look at it in terms of having to eventually pay someone else a salary to do the job. Don’t sell yourself short. Your skillset is a valuable commodity and should be priced as such.
7. Not planning to hire
You cannot scale if you don’t have help. Plain and simple. Even if you may not be ready now, look ahead and start implementing a plan to hire. Whether it’s an accountant, a marketing professional, or an assistant, delegating the nuances of your day so that you can focus on growing your business is the only way you’ll get to the level of your business that you want.
8. Not staying a student
School may have gotten you started, but are you continuing to look outward and learn about the changing trends or new advancements in your field? Even with decades of experience, surely your business has evolved with the rest of the technological world. Never assume you know everything. Like they say, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Never stop learning.
9. Not listening to your clients/customers
When was the last time you made a conscious effort to reach out to your client or customer base and ask for genuine feedback? For some, the answer is never. And this is always a mistake. Never ignore the feedback from people who’ve worked with you. It can either help you learn from mistakes and make your business better or show you where you shine. Either way, it’s money.
10. Working in isolation
If you find yourself alone most of the time, make some plans to attend networking events or to dedicate a day or two to working in a shared office environment (or at the very least, a coffee shop). Humans are pack animals, and it’s just important to your business as it is to your mental health.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes we’ve seen across the years, and that doesn’t mean it’s bad if you’ve made them (or are currently making them). Mistakes are just another form experience, and experience is a good thing. If you’re able to realize the errors and work to correct them, there’s no reason to fret.
However, it is always an advantage to have help from those who’ve been there before. If you find yourself desiring the help of experienced managers and admins with an ever-deepening knowledge of small business, we’d love to chat with you.