4 common mistakes small business owners make - and what to learn from them
22 September 2015
2 min read
Small business owners are often responsible for every aspect of their businesses from sales and marketing to IT and legal. This can-do attitude that is the fuel for the company's growth can also be its downfall, if a small business owner who's doing it all ends up overlooking some basic markers of business health.
Yet keeping your eyes on the prize doesn't have to mean losing sight of the milestones along the way.
Failure - whether it's a minor trip or full-on faceplant - can bring with it crucial lessons for experienced and beginning business owners.
Here are four common mistakes that can deal your small business a blow, and what you can learn from them.
You forgot about the people
People like doing business with people they like. Whether you forgot about your customers, your vendors, or your team, that single-minded drive for success can sometimes leave your business partners unappreciated and left out. If you find yourself facing an exodus - whether it's your employees or your customers - do the one thing many companies are afraid to do: ask the people leaving how to make things better. Then, create an advisory team filled with those people to make sure you see problems before they become problems in the future.
You hired employees you didn't need
Ah, the magic of the perfectly crafted CV. That latest hire seemed perfect for the new marketing role. In the office? Well, productivity hasn't boomed as much as you'd hoped. Go to your team and ask why this paper-perfect hire didn't make the grade. Add that to your situational knowledge and use these two sources of information to build a better hiring program - including a checkpoint for whether it's an additional employee you need, or simply a freelance contractor.
You decided to be all business, all the time
When did you stop caring about the people in your business? Believe me, your employees will be able to tell you the exact date. When you find your team's gusto gone, it's time to make your business the place they want to come to every day once again — and for more than just the paycheque. Build that community spirit by organising team lunches or drinks for meeting goals. Ask employees to recommend an idea for a Team Day every month (or even every week). Engagement at work is the foundation to great accomplishment.
You stopped listening
When your business is on the road to growth, it's easy to barrel straight ahead. Unfortunately, that can knock well-meaning people out of the way. Try to avoid taking the Amy's Baking Company route of dealing with your critics (both inside and outside your company). Instd, open your ears and mouth. Take a bite of that humble pie and learn how to be a better listener, even when you don't particularly like what you're hearing. That constructive criticism just could help divert future flaws before they trip you up.
So the next time you find yourself falling face-first instead of moving forward, listen to what failure's telling you. See what you can take away from a mistake so that you don't make it again. A conversation with failure could be just the thing your business needs to hit the next level of growth.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success”Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder