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Updated: March 27th, 2020
Making mistakes is a part of life. Unfortunately, when you’re running a business, any mistake you make not only hurts you and your employees, but also your company.
Of course, no one expects you to be perfect. However, if possible, you’ll want to avoid making these critical and costly business mistakes.
The people you hire can make or break your company. It may be tempting to settle for “good enough” when you desperately need a hand, but if you want to take your business to the next level, you shouldn’t compromise your high standards.
Similarly, you’ll want to let go of those who aren’t pulling their weight. This doesn’t mean you should go on regular firing sprees and cut people for the slightest infractions. However, if someone is clearly not working out, it’s best for all parties to part ways.
In this day and age, you can pretty much expect that potential customers will research your company before they consider buying anything. Having a website lets you control the narrative instead of social media channels or third-party review sites (although, for the record, you shouldn’t ignore those either).
A website is also an easy and inexpensive way to multiply your customer base (and therefore revenue) many times over, as you’ll be able to reach those who can’t make it to your physical store.
No matter how great your product is, no one will buy it if they don’t know about it.
You don’t need a million-dollar marketing budget to get the word out about your products or services — there are ways other than taking over all the billboards in your city or airing a commercial during prime time to reach your audience.
If you own a daycare, for example, you can use local SEO strategies to reach parents in your area. Or, if you sell stylish bags, you can target people who are fans of your biggest competitor. And don’t forget to use Google My Business to highlight what makes your business special!
One of the best things you can do for your business is learn how to prioritize and delegate tasks you don’t personally need to handle. As the saying goes, if you try to do everything, you’ll end up accomplishing nothing. Or, even worse, you’ll end up doing everything poorly.
People are experts for a reason. If you don’t understand finances, you should probably hire an accountant to do your taxes. If you’re not the best wordsmith, you may want to get someone else to write email communications to customers.
In this day and age, you can no longer use the excuse that you don’t have the funds to hire more full-time employees — there are plenty of tools, such as Zirtual and TaskRabbit, that’ll allow you to hire qualified freelancers that can help you get one-off tasks done. Not only will your company come off as more professional, but it’ll also free up time for you to focus on growing your business.
Whether a thief steals your employee’s laptop full of customer data or a hacker takes over your site until you pay a ransom, it just takes one security incident to destroy your business.
Don’t wait until it’s too late; practice good security habits by protecting your site, encouraging employees to lock their laptops, enforcing strong passwords, keeping software updated, being judicious with customer information, and more.
Your business is about your customers, plain and simple. Unless you have a monopoly, they’ll probably turn to one of your competitors if they’re not happy. That’s why when customers give you feedback, you should listen and try to make necessary changes.
Of course, you can’t make everybody happy, nor should you change your entire mission because of one squeaky wheel. However, if you’re hearing the same feedback over and over again, you’ll want to evaluate how to improve your customer experience.
Even well-intentioned advice can be bad advice, so it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt. You’re the one who knows your product best, so if someone suggests doing something that feels off-brand or detrimental to your business, you may not want to jump at their suggestion.
Instead, consider turning to just one trusted mentor or establishing a board who has a vested interest in your company’s success. They’ll be able to provide insight and feedback to help keep your business on the right track.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to control every aspect about your business, nor will you know the answers to everything — life has a way of throwing curveballs when you least expect it.
That’s why it’s important to remain flexible and be open to change. If your marketing strategy isn’t working, explore another channel. If one store isn’t doing as well as the others, considering closing that branch and opening another location somewhere else. And if people end up using your product for a completely different purpose, consider leaning into it — you just might end up being the next Listerine, Coca-Cola, or Frisbee!
Louis DeNicola is the president of LD Money Media LLC and an experienced finance writer who specializes in credit, personal finance, and small business finance. Within the small business sphere, he helps business owners understand their financing options, cash flow management, business credit, and taxes. In addition to Funding Circle, you can find his work on BlueVine, Credit Karma, Experian, Wirecutter, and Lending Tree.