The 5 Most Common Small Business Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

There are so many things to consider when running a small business – marketing, finance, staffing and much more. But there are also a number of common mistakes that can result in business failure.  We’ve put together a list of great tips and advice on how to avoid them.  

1. Treating marketing as an expense vs. an investment

An expense is something you buy and depreciate. An investment is something you purchase that will deliver value in the future. The sole purpose of marketing is to drive more leads into customers and keep them as raving fans. So if you run your small business looking at marketing as an expense-ready to cut marketing campaigns and programs when things get tight, you may want to reshape your perspective on small business marketing. 

Often, when turbulent times hit and sales fall in the tank the first inclination is to reduce your marketing spend. This is the absolute wrong decision. Marketing is the very catalyst you need to spur growth and drive new opportunities. 

2. You Conduct Poor Market Research

Imagine going through all the work to create a product or service, launch a business, create comprehensive marketing campaigns, and spend a ton of money on advertising — only to discover no one wants what you’re selling. Or to discover that someone else is already selling something even better than you can offer. 

In doing market research, you must answer two broad questions: Is there enough demand for the product or service I’m considering? 

Is the existing competition meeting that demand to customers’ satisfaction? To succeed in business, you need both sufficient demand and a way to meet it that your competition isn’t already doing. That doesn’t mean you have to enter an industry with no competition or with pitifully weak competition. But it does mean you need to offer your own unique solution to customers’ problems that don’t simply recycle what bigger, more established competitors are already doing. Learn everything you can about conducting market research, since it’s probably not an area of expertise for you.  

3. Micromanaging Employees

A common characteristic shared by many owners and managers in small companies is the urge to micromanage their employees. This comes from a deep sense of connection with the business and a belief that no one else cares enough to complete the task at hand in exactly the right way. In addition to inhibiting the potential of the employee, the manager ends up with such a heavy workload that it’s impossible to be completely effective at any one specific task. The effects of micromanagement negatively affect productivity, aptitude, engagement and progress. Fight the urge to intervene, and allow your employees to reach their fullest potential. 

 4. All Work and No Play

Running your own business is hard work. However, without proper relaxation, you will become increasingly less productive. It isn’t the hours you spend at work but the productivity of the hours you spend there. Become a student of your own business. When do most customers access your business? When is the slow time of the day or week? If you are available for an entire hour that may only yield one small sale, you would be better off out of the office. 

Take a walk. Talk to people along the way. They could be future customers. Join a gym and work out during a half of that slow hour. This kills two birds with one stone. You get healthier with better endurance and again, you can network with people who might be future customers.  

5. Failing to recognize the value of your existing customers

While attracting new visitors and buyers is key for your small business, don’t forget about your existing customers. Studies show that acquiring a new customer can be nearly 6 times more costly than cross-selling or upselling an existing one. 

If you only focus your marketing efforts on acquiring new customers, you’re also likely to neglect your existing customers and provide them with less-than-stellar customer service. According to Forrester Research nearly 70% of consumers check out customer reviews prior to purchasing a product or service. That means that if you make a mistake and forget about your current customer base your sales growth is in jeopardy. So allocate a portion of your marketing budget to customer advocacy and retention, you will find it will propel your brand and deliver more referrals in the long run. 

There is a slim line between success and failure for any small business. By eliminating these five costly mistakes and having a sound marketing strategy in place you will be able to reach more customers and grow profitably. But, you don’t need to do it alone. If running your business and balancing your life feel far too often like fumbling around in the dark, our programs serve as your flashlight. Understand the WHY and WHAT – and the HOW will take care of itself! Click here to see how we can help you! 

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