Starting a business isn't always easy. There are so many things to think about and decisions to make; the pressure can cause you to make a poor decision that can hurt your potential for success, or at least set you back.
While there isn't a fool-proof plan to reach small business startup success, there are several common and dangerous mistakes many new business owners make that can negatively impact their businesses.
Here are 10 of the most common mistakes to avoid as you start your small business.
1. Skipping the Planning Phase
Planning may be tedious, but without a solid plan for your business that includes business idea research and market potential, you will be operating in the dark. The most important plans to consider include a business plan, a financial plan and a marketing plan.
2. Not Setting Goals
Goals can give you direction when you first start your business, then keep you on track during the day-to-day operations. By making sure your goals are SMART goals, you can identify where you want to go and outline specific steps that you will take to get there.
3. Undervaluing Your Products or Services
Many times, lack of confidence in our ability and fear of failure causes us to under-price our products and services. This is a dangerous path to take because it undermines the unique value you bring to the table and opens up the possibility of resentment and frustration. Recovering from undervaluing your goods is a long road, so you should explore the market thoroughly as you start your business to identify the best price entry point for what you're selling.
4. Avoiding New Technology
As small business owners, technology can provide new opportunities, help us do our work more efficiently and even help us save money. New technology may be intimidating, and require time to learn and understand, but an unwillingness to adapt to technological advances can hurt your business in the short- and long-term.
5. Being Afraid of Marketing
Marketing can take many forms from word of mouth referrals, to traditional advertising, to Internet marketing. There aren't any set rules when it comes to marketing; the best type of marketing for you depends on your business and your target audience. The mistake is assuming you don't need to market and that business will come to you.
6. Not Knowing Who Your Ideal Customer Is
One vital part of any successful marketing campaign is understanding who your ideal customer is. It's not enough to create a marketing budget and try a little bit of everything. You need to do market research to identify who you are trying to reach, where you can find them and how they will react to your marketing activities.
Starting a business doesn't have to require a large investment, but some new business owners feel that they need to spend a lot to purchase the best of the best everything from marketing help, to equipment, to software. There are usually other, less expensive but equally viable options available, if you're willing to do the research. Creating and sticking to a business budget to curb overspending is always an excellent idea.
Some small business owners who don't overspend fall on the other end of the spectrum and refuse to spend much of anything. While there are certainly ways to start and grow a business with limited funds, going too far and not investing any kind of capital in your business can severely limit your potential for success.
9. Doing It All Alone
A small business owner may be willing to learn how to be a jack of all trades, but it doesn't have to be that way. Effective delegation can be one of the best ways for new small business owners to build their businesses, free up their time for business activities that require their unique expertise, and build a team positioned for future success.
10. Not Making a Commitment
Starting a business requires a number of success-oriented character traits such as drive, dedication and a serious sense of commitment. Small business owners need to be willing to make sacrifices, put in the time necessary, and face challenges head-on if they want their businesses to be successful.
We all make mistakes. The key is being aware of them and consistently working to make smart, well-informed decisions in your business. If you can do that, and remain resilient when you do make a mistake, success will be within your reach.