Business ideas are a dime a dozen. It seems that everyone you meet nowadays is a startup founder or is convinced they have the idea for the next Uber, Airbnb, Google or Apple.
Talk to these small business owners again after a few months, and they’ll either tell you nothing came out of their business, or that they had managed to launch their startups…and then failed.
However tragic it may sound, it’s a fact that 9 out of 10 startups fail within the first 18 months. It is a very high percentage, and a lot of it is due to the entrepreneur.
Many of them fail, fail, and fail again, but eventually find success in their venture, learning from their (many) mistakes along the way.
If you are just about to establish a business, it would do well to learn what these common mistakes are so you can avoid them.
Due to the number of failed businesses today, there is hardly any shortage of information and suggestions about the mistakes to be avoided in business.
From books to tapes and even webinars or seminars, there’s a lot of information out there for you to learn from.
To make it easier for you, we have compiled five common mistakes you can avoid ensuring the success of your small business.
#1: Expecting success overnight
The desire to get rich overnight is as old as money itself and has spawned countless books and seminars by various gurus, and made ‘investment’ schemes so popular.
Like all things that promise great reward in short time with little effort, it doesn’t hold up and almost never works.
Rather than expect to become Bill Gates in a short time, accept the fact that it will take you years and an untold amount of effort to reach financial success.
Going into a small business with unrealistic expectations is only setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment. The eventual disappointment can very easily lead you to give up on your business dreams altogether.
The only tried and tested way to actually attain success is through hard work, perseverance, and some luck. If becoming rich was as easy as these gurus claim, every person in the world would be swimming in cash!
Ensure that your goals are realistic and work towards them with consistency.
#2: No proper marketing strategy and direction
The phrase “Failing to plan is planning to fail” is old and oft repeated. However, it still holds true today, particularly when it comes to business, specifically when marketing your product or service.
Today’s market is more complex than ever and so a lack of planning in marketing is a deathblow to any business.
Before you even begin putting your business out there, your goals need to be defined along with your marketing plan. And you should not just have any marketing plan though, but a really solid, well-thought-out one.
A well-done business plan states very clearly what the business is about and what it offers to the public, particularly to potential customers. A well-planned and executed marketing plan, will detail how you intend to reach customers.
With these two firmly in place, you won’t have a problem knowing what you are selling, to whom you are selling, and how you are selling your products and services.
#3: Not having a clear idea of your target market
Thanks to technology, the consumer market is easier than ever to study and quantify. However, in spite of this, businesses still sometimes get the audience targeting wrong, especially new small businesses, which shouldn’t be so.
Audience targeting is the lifeblood of any marketing campaign and a campaign is useless if the people it is targeted towards are the wrong audience, no matter how good the campaign (or the product) itself is.
No matter how broadly used or general your product is, you cannot afford to market it to everyone as ‘everyone’ isn’t a target niche or demographic.
It would do your business better to target segments of the market rather than anyone who will listen.
It is a waste of time and resources and this lack of direction will eventually kill your business sooner rather than later.
#4: Having the wrong team or no team at all
A warrior going into battle alone is a recipe for death and disaster. The same principle applies to business. The business world today is very complicated and very taxing. It is impossible for anyone person to master all areas of it.
A common business mistake is trying to do everything by yourself. It might seem like a resource-saver in theory, which is why a number of entrepreneurs do this at the initial stage of their business.
However, this strategy has zero success stories and will contribute to the failure of the business. The right people assisting you in the aspects that you cannot adequately perform yourself is invaluable and will do your business a world of good.
The same goes for tools as well; using the right tools will take off the burden of strenuous work and give you more time and energy to devote to making the business grow.
With the right people behind and beside you, you will definitely take your small business to success.
#5: Not having a work/life balance
Sure, small businesses, especially startups, require a lot of work. No business, big or small, can succeed if proper time and work aren’t put into it.
However, many small business owners fall into the trap of putting in so much work that they neglect other aspects of their life such as family, friends, and leisure. Believe it or not, putting all your time into your business actually harms it in the long run.
Why? Well, it’s because you end up burned-out and fatigued, which can and will affect the business you’ve been trying to grow. You will start making mistakes, or generally underperform in both business and life.
Ensure that you take adequate time off work and maintain your work/life balance and you will see that both thrive better as a result.
Running a small business can be challenging and even scary at some point. Buying a distressed business can also be a risky move, but if you keep these tips in mind you should be okay.
So don’t be discouraged.
The challenges are not insurmountable. By avoiding mistakes like the ones above and with the right attitude and information, you can definitely be among the 10% of startups that end up a success.