Small Business Mistakes

In a time when everyone is losing their job and the world seems a little discouraged, many people consider starting their own business. They feel that “being my own boss” is the answer to the “lay-off” blues and that becoming a business-owner is going to solve their income problems. And while owning a business can be the best thing that ever happened to you, it can also produce as much or even more stress than the old boss ever could.

As a business coach, I love to work with brand new business owners. They are excited and full of promise, willing to work hard to get their business rolling. Doing the right things at this critical stage in the business is very important to avoid the pitfalls that often befall small business. Success in small business depends on a lot of factors and with the rate of failure in the first year very high, it is important to consider a few things before getting started.

1. Make sure you have a plan. One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is not planning carefully. Business owners get caught up in the excitement of the business and don’t take the time to plan out how to build it. Because they fail to plan, they often do not realize exactly how much work it will take to get their business up and going. It doesn’t matter if the business is a brick and mortar, online store, direct sales or multi-level-marketing business, all take a certain amount of effort before profits are realized. Creating a business plan will bring that information into focus.

2. Define early what will be your definition of success and how long you need to make success a reality. This is a critical point because for some people success means lots of money and fast, because they are out of job and need an income. Others will feel successful even if it takes a long time to make money because this is a retirement dream. Define why you want the business and then you will know what will make it a success for you.

3. Understand that starting a business takes money. Many people take on a new business idea thinking that they can do it with no money or on a budget. No matter what your business is, you need a certain amount of working capital to get it up and producing profits. Even small home-based businesses require an investment in products and materials to get going.

4. Just because you build it does not mean they will come. The saying for a brick and mortar business to get noticed and bring is customers is location, location, location. While that is true, it is also important to consider what your business will sell and what is the market for the product or service. Be ready to invest in claiming your piece of the internet to help you get noticed. That means you will have to invest some money or time and energy into search engine optimization. The world wide web is pretty crowded. Just because you have a site does not mean they can find it.

5. Price your product or service correctly. Many people make the mistake of not pricing their product or service correctly. Understanding your market and what they will pay for your product or service is key to success. Enlist the help of a professional in necessary because it is critical that you are priced right.

6. Marketing matters. I am convinced that there are many businesses out there that could experience giant success if someone just knew they were there. Many people make the mistake of believing that if they offer good service and a fair price people will hear about them, in this market that is just not so. Make sure you include enough money in your budget for good marketing and visibility advertising, especially as a start up. Hire someone to help with this!

7. Hire some good advice. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have in business, you need someone to tell you when you are headed in the wrong direction. No one is immune from being so excited about their idea that they miss pitfalls along the way. Hire a coach or business manager to listen to your ideas and repeat them back to you. Often those ideas don’t sound quite so brilliant coming from someone else.

8. Make some friends. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce or a networking group is not only good for business, it is also good for the morale. Many people do not count the cost of relationships when they leave a job to start a business. Making friends with other people building a business can lessen the burden.

Owning and operating a business is exciting and rewarding. Getting off to the right start is imperative to making sure you don’t fail in the first year. Don’t be afraid to get professional advice along the way. Getting it right is a combination of skill and determination and you will make sacrifices along the way, but it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility to believe that you can be successful. Preparation is key and being realistic about the fact that owning a business will not solve all your problems will keep you grounded and focused.