Frequently we read how to be a successful business owner or how to grow the company, but we rarely see mistakes we startup owners make. Believe it or not, you may be doing the wrong thing with the right approach; the little things we ignore as business owners are most times the main reason our businesses are not thriving, and we start wondering what went wrong thereby leading to frustrations.
However, we have studied some successful businesses, as well as failed companies, and we know what the former is did or are doing that the latter did not do or do not want to do. It’s a bit tricky, I know… but I guarantee you that if you can avoid these ten mistakes in your business, there is no way your business will not thrive even if you already have big competitors.
You are creating product or service nobody wants
A lot of us, especially young entrepreneurs are guilty of this act; we think of products or services to render to people when we finally get a glimpse of it, boom! We are open for business, without taking time to weigh our ideas if that is what the people around you need at the moment.
Now I need you to take a minute (or more, if you have to) to check out successful companies you hear of today. They have one thing in common- they meet the needs of their customers. Before you embark on any business venture or partner with someone, take your time to answer some of these questions; does your business meet the needs of your community? Is your business seasonal? How often do people demand such products or services in your area?
Answering these questions will give you a hint on how fast your business will thrive. Also, when getting a location for your business, this is what you should think about too. It makes no sense opening a meat shop in a community full of vegetarians. Or opening a liquor shop in a neighborhood populated with seniors, yes the business will survive but not as much it will when located in a vibrant or “youthful” community.
Hiring people who are not trained for the position
Before you hire anyone, have it in mind that this is business and not a charity organization. We tend to hire people just because they are friends, families, or recommended by our loved ones. If you start your business like that, you may end up hurting yourself and the company. If you want to own a successful startup, then go for the brain, and not the brand.
Hiring a medical doctor in a banking sector all because the person went to a prestigious school will not help you move your business forward, what does he have to offer? Giving a lawyer a sales person’s position in your firm will yield nothing. Furthermore, knowing what your business needs to grow, will help you employ the right people for the job.
Lack of focus
Well, you know the need to be focus cannot be overstated. If you want to be a household name, then maintain focus. A lot of us do not mind our business; we tend to engage in different things at a time, which is wrong for any company. Learn to prioritize your daily activities, no matter how important you think they all are. Chasing two or more rabbits at a time will make you get none. There is a time to sow, time to water, time to nourish, time to weed, and time to harvest. If you are into organic foods, remain there until your business is mature enough for expansion. Now, do not get me wrong, I am not saying you cannot handle two or more companies- you can if you set your mind to it.
However, each business encounter the “nurturing stage” this is the time you give that particular business all the time you’ve got- your undivided attention. Once the business can stand on its own, you are free to diversify.
Failure to execute sales and marketing
If you can avoid the second mistake on the list, you can avoid this one too. You will agree that not all business owners can pull in sales or have marketing strategies; it is the more reason you need to hire people are can do a great job in this area. Any business with a strong sales and marketing department is bound to be a success.
What is the purpose of starting a business if you cannot sell your products or services to the public? How do you pay your workers, and make profits if you do not attract customers to your business?
As a business owner, get materials on how to attract and sell your business to hungry customers. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to pay anything to get your product; they just need to hear the right words from you.
Getting the wrong co-founders
Alright, listen up (read) every business is like a marriage- getting married to someone who does not have the same goals, visions, etc. spells doom no matter how huge the wedding was. It the same thing as a business, you need the right co-founder(s) that is if you need a partner at all.
If you must partner with someone, let he or she has the business at heart too. You both do not need to have the same ways of getting something done. After all, coffee, milk, and sugar are different, but they make a tasty coffee drink when combined.
Before welcoming someone on board, here are some of the things you need to ask yourself;
- What are they bringing to the table?
- Why is the person the right partner?
- What are the common things/ideas you have the person?
- Does he/she complement your business?
- What don’t you have in common?
- Does he/she have experience in this kind of business?
- Are they capable of growing your business financially?
Answering the above questions will help you know if the partner is the right fit for your business.
Focusing on getting investors than attracting customers
Sure, you need money to invest in your business, but it is not the ultimate. Chasing investors instead of tracking customers is like putting the cart before the horse. First of all, if you have the idea, you will naturally attract investors without trying too hard.
The problem you have is not the capital for the startup; it is pulling customers to buy your products and services. Mind you; no investors want to put their money in a “dead sea”; how well you attract consumers, determine how fast investors are willing to invest in your business.
So, go back to the drawing table, think of ways you can pull the crowd to you instead of chasing customers. Some customers are willing to pay ahead before they get their products; you can use this opportunity to raise funds for your business, instead of looking for investors with big bucks.
Not ensuring there is enough money before starting the business
This is self-explanatory; nonetheless, it simply means we plunge into the company without having enough to keep it afloat. It is the reason most entrepreneurs get so desperate that they end up partnering with the wrong persons, cut corners, or fold up even before the business gain a momentum.
To avoid making such mistake, write a business plan, get all your facts about the business right. This is not the time for assumptions; ensure you have all you need or at least eighty percent before open for business. Moreover, you can always hire someone to write a business plan for you if you do not have the time to do it.
Ensure you overestimate the cost of productions, do not underestimate the bills or give the exact amounts. Prices are always volatile; it is better you have some left over after production than having less than what you bargained for. The benefit of overestimation is to be on a safe side, besides; you can always use the money for other things that will further promote the growth of the business.
Spending too much money
Most of us are guilty of this act, primarily when we have successfully secured a loan or a grant for our businesses. The reason for getting a business plan is not just to entice your investors or the banks; it is also to keep your focus on what to do and should not do. Money is seductive, and spending is intoxicating. You need to be frugal about every dime you spend on your business or else you may end up buying things you do not need, which may suck up your capital in no time.
Strictly follow your business plan, avoid getting distracted by things you do not need. Do not forget; there is a time for everything.
Failure to ask for help
No man is an island; if you want to go fast, walk alone, but if you want to go far, walk with people. No matter how unique or special your idea is, someone somewhere has attempted it before and probably making waves in the business. These are the people you watch out for; the earlier you see your competitors as a ladder you must climb to get to where you want to be instead of your enemies, the faster you will succeed in your business. Ask questions; you don’t know it all, read books that talk about the type of business you do. Have mentors- people who have succeeded in business, listen to them. Also check for failed businesses, what they did wrong, and try as much as possible to avoid making such mistakes.
Furthermore, listen to consumers of similar products and services; what are their complaints? Why do they enjoy their products? Get all these answers, and see how you can implement some of them in your business.
Ignore social media
It is quite laughable to think any business can thrive in this century without the help of social media. Social media has given a lot of small companies to compete with the big leagues. It will be a disaster if you do not give your company an online presence. The customers you are looking for today, sleep, talk, eat, play on social media.
If you want them to know your business, then go to where they are- social media. What do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing; it is free and easy. Create a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram for your brand. Post fun, but informative write-ups every time- you can make it bi-weekly, or daily. If you do not have the time, you can always hire someone to do it for at a low cost.
If your business is not growing as fast as you want, check the ten mistakes above, see what you are doing wrong and then fix it. Good luck!