Thursday, August 8, 2013

Six Ways Small-Business Owners Shoot Themselves In the Foot

Some people, it seems, were just born to run a business successfully. 

Most others, however, learn through trial and error, with the emphasis on error.

That’s okay and a good way to acquire a lesson that'll stick, too. Still, you don’t have to make all the mistakes that can be made. Instead, take this list to heart and avoid a few right off the bat.

#1. Hiring the Wrong People for the Wrong Tasks
Loyalty is good and a desire to do business with people you like and admire is certainly understandable. However, unless your friend is talented with numbers, don’t put him in charge of the books. By the same token, your friend with the creative ideas but low detail orientation and poor spelling shouldn’t be responsible for communications. Hire as carefully for yourself as you would for someone else, and don’t be tempted to place people where they won’t do well. Ultimately, it’ll hurt your business and your friendships.

#2. Not Hiring Anyone
Hiring mishaps can do damage to any organization but in a small organization can really wreck havoc. Still, that’s no reason to forgo seeking assistance if you need it. Your business won’t grow if you consistently turn down work and turn away customers. If you’re leery of a hiring mistake, engage a consultant to help you. Typically, he or she won’t get paid until your offer of employment has been accepted by a suitable candidate.

#3. Refusing to Acknowledge Limits
No one knows everything about running a business, but sometimes business owners like to think they do. However, refusing to concede your limits (in knowledge, skill, or ability) could hamper your business in a real way. It’s not enough to hire the right people, you have to let them do their jobs, too.

#4. Providing Poor Customer Service
You want your customers to remember you for the right reasons, but they won’t forget a lack of follow through, poor communication, no communication, shoddy work, incomplete work, or—heaven forbid—flat-out rudeness. So make every effort to provide the best customer service possible. Keep your word, be responsive, answer questions thoroughly and patiently, and, of course, deliver a fantastic product. In other words, consistently solve your customers’ problems, and they’ll consistently seek you.

#5. Pricing Services Too High or Too Low
Price your product or service too low and risk not earning enough to cover expenses and/or sending the wrong message about your product's value. Price your product too high, and your customers may think you’re trying to take advantage or are otherwise out of touch. So price your products strategically and with care. You don’t want customers thinking your product is not up to snuff or that you’re a crook, an inept business person, or someone with a head as large as Texas, right?

#6. Refusing to Invest in the Business
It's true. You have to spend money to make money. Lots of businesses can be launched on the cheap, but even those require some start-up capital. 

For example, a writing career is probably one of the least expensive careers to initiate, but I've spent money on hardware, software, office supplies, subscriptions, business cards, workshops, and coaches. Every writer doesn't have to do the same, but come on, you gotta spend something. There are only so many favors you can call in without people getting annoyed. It's your business, so treat it with a little respect.

Being your own boss is exciting but comes with a lot of challenges, so take a bit of the pressure off by heeding the advice above. 

Good luck! 


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  2. Some great points here - might I add - not listening to others/not encouraging feedback.

    thanks for sharing.