Starting and maintaining a successful small business is no easy task.
Making mistakes along the way is inevitable, and there is nothing wrong with that. While it is important to learn from those mistakes, every small business owner should also use opportunities to learn best practices from other experienced entrepreneurs to avoid the most common mistakes small business owners make.
To get started, take a look at the top 5 mistakes small business owners make. With this information under your belt, you can avoid the most common pitfalls small business owners experience – knowing you will make your own mistakes along the way that future entrepreneurs can learn from.
1. Placing the Work over the Business
Most small business owners, especially in the service industry, started their companies due to their expertise and passion for the work. Construction company owners likely began as quality construction workers who enjoyed their job, while landscape company owners likely began as amazing landscapers who needed some help.
A common pitfall due to this, however, is that many small business owners place more importance on the work itself and leave business and administrative work behind. As a small business owner, it is important to realize that every aspect of your business is equally important. Completing the work is crucial, but small business owners must spend the same amount of time and effort responding to customers, sending and receiving invoices, collecting payments, and marketing their business. A successful business is built on quality work and quality processes.
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2. Not Accepting Debit and Credit Card Payments
The number of debit and credit card payments grew by $13B in only three years from 2012 to 2015. Many small business owners make the mistake of sticking to traditional forms of payment, like cash and check, to avoid card processing fees. If we could sum up a solution in one sentence: Accept credit cards.
Credit card processing fees are simply a cost of doing business in today’s digital world, and the return will far outweigh the cost. With the credit card industry growing at an alarming rate, it is more expensive for your company not to accept debit and credit card payments. The data urging you to accept digital payments is there, yet 52% of field service companies still process things manually. Avoid this mistake and get an immediate leg up on your competition. See ClearGate’s Payment Solutions now.
3. Failing to Market Yourself and Your Business
For your business to be successful long-term, you must understand your customer base and how to best reach them. From formal marketing advertisements to your company’s uniform, understand what your customers want, need, and expect.
If your customers rarely read the newspaper, why would you advertise in the newspaper? Do your customers expect to receive formal, professional business cards, or are they more likely to search for that information online? Taking time to understand your clients is one of the first steps to reaching them. As with any relationship, it is hard to meet expectations if you do not know them.
Once you figure how your customers search for information and what information they prefer – articles, videos, blog posts – start connecting with them! Ask and answer their questions, discuss your services, and help them understand your business. While many entrepreneurs see marketing as just a sales strategy, they could not be more wrong. As a small business owner, everything you do is marketing your brand to customers and the community.
4. Avoiding New Technology
Some small business owners view technology as something that costs money and is hard to use. In reality, the right technology allows businesses to save money and become more efficient.
For example, consider a business that still sends and receives traditional, paper invoices. They complete the invoice manually, print the invoice, then send or scan to clients and customers via email or mail. Not only could they save paper costs, printer costs, and time by moving to digital invoicing – but they would also experience a much lower rate of human error and receive payments more quickly! More times than not, allowing technology to do the work increases a company’s efficiency, accuracy, and time spent on growing the business.
Technology may be intimidating, but refusing to transform your company to meet the needs of the economy could be your company’s kiss of death.
5. Trying to Do It All
The greatest mistake a small business owner can make is believing they can do everything it takes to run a successful business. The business may have started with you alone, but rarely does a successful business thrive and grow with only one human behind the magic. Although the owner of a business knows how to complete every task it takes to run the company, it does not mean they should.
Focus on your talents and find ways to utilize available resources for the areas you are weak (or simply do not enjoy). This could mean hiring new employees or finding software to complete some of the administrative work for you. Hiring a marketing assistant and purchasing software to automatically send and receive invoices and payments for you are just two examples of delegating pieces of your business to increase profits and continue growing.
As a small business owner, you will make mistakes. The key is to avoid the common ones and learn from the mistakes you do experience and pay it forward. As the CEO of your business, every decision you make either helps or hurts the chance of your business growing and succeeding. Let this list of common mistakes help you choose wisely!