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28 August 2015

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Business

A lot of people start businesses that don’t achieve what they wanted them to. Sometimes they will explode spectacularly, but a lot of them will just fizzle out. For one reason or another, something isn’t working and the business dies.

Here’s the golden goal for any small business; set something up that moves forward when you’re standing still. If you have a business model or idea that is so good it brings you business without requiring you to desperately scrape it together, you’re onto something good. Once you’ve managed this, you can give your business a big push and turn it into something big. A lot of people fail to clear this first hurdle. What do they do wrong?

Let’s have a look at some common mistakes that are made by people trying to start a small business.  

Not setting goals.

Starting a business will consume your life. It will become everything you think about, day in and day out (if it doesn’t, you have a problem). When something occupies all of your thoughts, it can be difficult to take a step back and think ‘where does this need to go?’ It’s easier to get caught up and think ‘I have to just keep working’ without consider why or how you need to keep working.

Setting goals allows you to ensure you are always moving in the right direction.

Under pricing.

Your price point, whether it’s for a product or service, reflects your confidence. You hard part is finding a balance between a price that is competitive, and a price that makes you seem like you deliver a high quality service or product. If you are operating in an environment with high price sensitivity, like a trade, you probably can allow yourself to price low initially to find customers and clients.  

Not knowing your demographic.

This is the single biggest mistake a new business owner can make. What you are selling is important and you need to get it right, but it’s only half of the equation. You must understanding who you are selling to. These are two sides of the same coin and require equal attention. Most new business owners can tell you every aspect of what they’re selling, but very few can describe who they are selling to in the same detail.

Not understanding marketing.

The word ‘marketing’ can sometimes scare off small business owners. However, it’s not as daunting as it first seems. Marketing is not about filming a thirty second tv spot, it’s about finding the best way to communicate with and broaden your customer base. Leaving a small business card or token can be the difference between a growing group of clients and a diminishing one.

Doing it alone.

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ – everybody has heard the phrase. Meeting people, asking questions and making contacts is one of the most important parts of running a business. Ask for help; other people have gone before you. Some have failed, some have succeeded, but all of them have learned things. Tap into this source of knowledge. Leaving everything to yourself can sometimes make you lose sight of what you’re doing and where you should be heading.

Rigid Ideas.

To some extent, you need to protect a vision and fight for your ideas. But you also need to be responsive to what the market is telling you. If your customers don’t like some aspect of your business, if something is unexpectedly reducing your income, consider changing it.

Be receptive to criticism.

Most people think of their business as something complete, that they are confident will succeed the way it is.
It’s much better to think of your business as a prototype; there will always be changes to make. Other people will be able to give you insight. Listen honestly to what they have to say and try not to become defensive. Not all advice is good, but some suggestions will be.  

Half-heartedness.

If you’re starting a business, go all in. Everything you think about, everything you do, allow it to inform your business practice. Be excited about your business and let people know about it. In order for your business to succeed, you need to enjoy throwing yourself into it.

Starting a business is about hard work, receptiveness and perseverance. It’s a big challenge, but it should also be something you find fulfilling. Always look at the available support systems and make use of the resources around you.

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