Reality check: you’re not an octopus. You don’t have eight arms for answering phones, packing orders, updating websites, checking stock, managing a budget, updating a marketing plan and making the coffee. You’re an entrepreneur now, and like all entrepreneurs, you’re going to experience a few bumps along the way. You will make mistakes, and it’s important to remember that’s okay. Learning and growing from them is all part of the adventure.
In saying that, here are the Top 5 most common mistakes made when launching a small business – and how to avoid them.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #1: TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF
Not being in control of every minute detail of your start-up might seem like your worst nightmare, but being able to let go of certain tasks is going to save you time and money. It will also allow you to focus on the parts of the business you’re genuinely great at.
Sites such as UpWork have professional freelancers who can take care of graphic design, marketing, packing orders, account keeping, website design, public relations – even print designers are ready and willing to help you build your dream. Make sure you have a clear brief and set up your freelancers for success. If you’re considering using Fiverr, please be aware – you get what you pay for. If you’re only willing to invest $50 in a logo, it will impact on the value of your branding as a whole. Do not skimp on this! For medium-sized companies or larger enterprises, platforms like VIVA HR – (check them out here ) to build culture profiles for each position you are seeking to fill. Building a “hiring brand” is essential today, making it possible to attract those A-players.
Establish the tasks that can be outsourced and get hiring. It’s going to keep costs lower as you’ll be able to employ freelancers who work remotely and don’t require contracts, physical offices, equipment, insurance…are you convinced yet!?
Your biggest challenge in this (apart from having to loosen the reigns a little) is to become a good manager. Schedule tasks as far in advance as possible, set clear deadlines and encourage honest and open two-way feedback. It’s important to keep learning, and getting outside perspective on what you might be able to do better – especially if this is your first experience managing people. We love to use ASANA and SMARTSHEET for planning and team delegation.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #2: SKIPPING YOUR MARKETING HOMEWORK
Knowing what makes your target market tick is the key to a successful business. You might be inspired and passionate about what you’re creating – but is everyone else? There’s no way around it: you have to conduct thorough market research.
There are probably a few things your focus groups can tell you that you might not have even thought about yet… How are you going to sell to them? Do they shop online? In boutiques? Would they seek out a pop-up store or hunt for your label in a department store full of competing brands?
How are you going to set reasonable price points without asking how much are they willing to spend on your items? Are you tapping into a market with a budget? Or one with a black AMEX?
So how do you go about effective market research? Narrow down a list of questions that will give you the information you need about your consumers first. From there, you can set a budget for conducting the research. SurveyMonkey and other sites allow free email surveys (with some parameters), you can hire a freelancing researcher online or if your budget allows, shop around for a professional small business consultant.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #3: NOT CONVERTING BROWSERS INTO BUYERS
Let’s say you’re operating entirely online. You’ve created a lust-worthy brand, your shoppers love to browse through items seemingly made just for them, they are picking and clicking and then *crickets*…all that’s left is an abandoned cart at the online checkout, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Right? Wrong!
Thanks to our clever friends out there in the tech world, there’s a solution to give retailers a second chance at snagging a sale. It’s called the Abandoned Cart Email Sequence. From the minute your online shopper leaves their cart at the checkout, you start bombarding them with emails to entice them to return and finish the sale.
Keep the emails in line with your branding – whether that’s cute, cheeky, styled to the nines or no-frills – and send a provocative message. Some of the most effective tactics are:
- inform the customer that you noticed they didn’t finish the checkout process and you’re holding the items for them
- the items are selling fast – only 4 left – but there’s still time for the sale
- a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that they can’t possibly go on without XYZ item, so return and purchase asap!
While you might be cringing and thinking this is borderline harassment, it’s actually an extremely effective technique. Research shows that customers are 2.4 times more likely to complete a purchase if they receive multiple follow up emails.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #4: MAKING BUDGETING BLUNDERS
Launching a successful business means having a detailed budget – and sticking to it as closely as possible. You might be surprised to discover that the budgeting blunders made by new small business owners aren’t limited to overspending – some businesses fail because of underspending.
Finding the balance between the two is crucial.
This business is your baby, so it’s perfectly normal to want the best of the best, but keep an eye on what your outgoings are. Often you can find solutions and equipment for much less than you’re willing to pay. Be smart about your purchases while you set up your business, and once you’re established, you can start thinking about splashing out.
At the same time, don’t be too tight-fisted. There are some things you will need to shell out for, and opting for rock-bottom rates every time is sure to be a mistake eventually. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #5: NOT REALISING TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Shying away from technology is a critical error when it comes to building a successful small business. Not only are there tools in place to help you in more ways you can count, but a lot of them are also free. You’re missing out on a whole lot if you don’t adapt and learn to integrate them into your marketing plan.
Remember: if you truly can’t bear to learn how to incorporate the new-fangled ways into your business life, outsource it to someone who gets it and can make it work for you.
Here are a few great examples of how technology can benefit you:
Including SEO-enriched copy into your website. Product descriptions, blogs, even your About Us section should be Search Engine Optimised to ensure your site doesn’t get buried on Page 215 of the website search results. Research your keywords and organically weave them into your writing. It costs nothing, but will result in increased traffic to your site.Sign up for pay-per-click advertising. It’s time to spend some of that budget and get your business out there! Divide up your spend between social media platforms, and start advertising to your customers right where they are – on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Not only do these sites now offer analytics so you can understand your customer better, paid advertising makes it clear to the consumer that you’re legitimate and open for business. If you’re looking for a program helps you discover and schedule content, and manage all your social accounts from one place. check out Crowdfire.
Using a Facebook pixel, Google Adwords or Sked Social. Once you’ve entered the (sometimes very confusing) world of online advertising, you’ll be curious about click-through conversion rates, the online behavior of your consumers and whether you could be advertising better. Enter: your trusty analytical tool. By tracking user data, you’ll get more insight into how your advertising is working and who your customers are, so you can tweak or change things up as required. We’re big fans of light automation and analytical tools like Sked Social – you get 20% off the first month subscribe to it by using this link