5 Common Business Mistakes You Need To AvoidDecember 19, 2014
Being a business owner can be terrifying at the best of times but even more so when you’re constantly exposed to statistics which detail the high number of start-ups that fail in their first year. The best way to stay on top and ensure you avoid letting your business becoming part of such a statistic is to know what the most common business failures are. Once you know what they are, it is easier to avoid them.
Ignoring your customers
The first and foremost rule of business is that you should always listen to your customers. Without customers your business would not survive. They are absolutely key to keeping your business running so it is vital you listen to their feedback and react to their concerns and criticisms.
Whilst you will have your own ideas about how to run your business, it is always worth keeping in mind that sometimes you might be too close to the action. Customers are on the outside with no emotional ties to your business; as such they can give constructive criticism and advice that can vastly improve your business if acted upon.
Failure to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances
In this world where technology is constantly evolving and the economic climate is still so changeable, it is vital that your business stays flexible and able to react to change. The market is so competitive that you need to stay one step ahead; otherwise you’ll lose out on vital business.
You need to keep an eye on your competitors and make sure that you’re the one implementing new and unique ideas and methods. Don’t let your standards slip. Always keep an eye out for innovative ways to help grow your products and services since this is what will keep you ahead in the marketplace.
Failing to utilise online marketing channels
These days it is so important that your business has a presence online and by that we don’t just mean a website. When you are a small business, it can be difficult to ensure that you are always up-to-date with the latest technology but that is even more reason to ensure you do invest the time and money into an online strategy.
As a small business, you will be up against a lot of competition; many companies will be larger than you and as such you must be ready and prepared to fight tooth and nail for your customers and reach your target audience in whatever way possible.
If you’re not online, you are missing out. You can be assured that the first morning action of the majority of people between the ages of 18-55 will be to go online. If you’re not advertising with Google or your website is not appearing on the first page of search and you’re not visible on social media, you are missing a trick.
Failing to interact with your customers online can seriously make or break your business. If customers have to hunt for answers or simple information such as your opening hours, you can be sure you’ll lose them to a competitor who gives them what they want and does so quickly.
However, do make sure you have an online strategy; the worst thing you can do is start posting random and poorly thought out tweets and Facebook statuses. A poorly thought out social media campaign can do just as much damage as not doing one at all. Do keep in mind though that posting discount codes, competitions and interesting factoids can do wonders for raising your profile and growing your customer base.
Failing to measure performance properly
If you constantly track your performance, you should always be able to keep on top of issues and ensure they never amount to real problems. However, many businesses do not actually measure their performance properly and do little more than just keep record of how, for instance, January sales were almost double December’s. You must question things like sales figures and enquiry rates and ask yourself what you did differently in January to increase sales so much.
Ensure you sign up to a web analytics package so you can keep track of how your website is performing and keep an eye on which content seems to work best for you. Constantly and regularly measuring how certain adverts, discount codes or interactions on social media worked and how they didn’t will ensure you learn from any mistakes and can help you make improvements quickly.
Failing to discipline poorly performing staff
A key area that many businesses fall down on is staffing. Your staff are obviously paramount to the successful running of your business and as such you may find yourself relying on them. However, poorly performing employees can do more harm than good. As such you must ensure you keep an eye on how they are performing at all times.
You can do this through setting out clear terms and conditions of employment, setting KPIs and targets, carrying out quarterly reviews and applying disciplinary action as and when silly mistakes are made. Your staff must know what is expected of them and what the repercussions will be if they are not up to standard. You cannot let sub-standard employees run your business into the ground or interact with your customers. You just can’t. Therefore it is vital you keep your workforce motivated, happy and above all, of an increasingly high standard.