Four common business mistakes
It may sound like a trite greeting card, but there’s a lot of truth in the old business adage “There is no such thing as a mistake—just a learning opportunity”.
The reality is that all business owners make mistakes. It only becomes a disaster if you don’t learn from it.
A handy shortcut is to learn from the mistakes of others. Networking events, online business forums and this website are filled with owners only too happy to share lessons they learned the hard way.
Take note. But don’t become paralysed by fear. Business involves risk – just make sure yours are calculated ones.
Four common new business mistakes
1 . Trying to do everything
Yes, this is your baby. And yes, your future financial stability (and possibly your house) is riding on its success.
But trying to handle every aspect of the business yourself is not a recipe for success. The key to running a successful business is recognising your skills and deficiencies.
Put your skills to work in areas where they will benefit the business most and think about what tasks you would be better off delegating or outsourcing.
This allows you to focus on the core of the business and prevents burn out. Perth business coach Paul Roach believes the mental health of SME operators is a significantly overlooked factor that has a major impact on the success of many businesses.
And maintaining a healthy work/life balance is crucial for mental health. Adjusting to life as a business owner can be particularly impactful in the first year as you struggle to work out this balance.
It may seem counter intuitive, but Roach insists time away from your business can be as important to success as time spent at work.
2. Non-existent marketing research and budget
Build it, and they will come, so the saying goes. But the truth is people are not going to visit your business if they don’t know about it.
It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, you still need a budget for marketing, particularly in your first year.
Once you have a customer base you can begin to generate the most valuable marketing – word of mouth. But spending on marketing is the first step to building that customer base.
An essential but often overlooked piece of information is; “who are you actually selling your product or targeting your service to?”.
Defining your audience is the key to effective, targeted marketing.
3. Saving on professional advice
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” — Red Adair.
Red Adair wasn’t an entrepreneur, he was a firefighter who famously jetted into Australia in the late 1960s to cap a potentially disastrous blow-out on an oil and gas rig in the Bass Strait.
But he certainly knew a thing or two about the importance of paying for a professional. In the business world, you’ll often hear the same sentiment expressed as: “There’s nothing so expensive as a cheap lawyer/accountant.”
And with good reason. These professionals can save you thousands. If you’re not sure what you need, schedule consultations with a range of professionals – business coaches, financial advisors or accountants.
An initial meeting is usually free – and it gives you a chance to nail down what it would cost and how they can help.
4. Ignoring your competitors
An essential part of your business plan should be understanding your unique selling point. That is: why will customers come to you, rather than your competitors?
Part of answering that question is understanding your competitors. Who are they? Where are they? What are their price points? What quality/range of services or products do they offer? Is their store more accessible?
Go online and check their website along with any publicly viewable feedback or reviews to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. Make their weakness your strength.