Occasionally, I receive an e-mail asking for any business tips that I may have. I haven’t been working on my business full-time for very long, but I do think I know a good amount about different types of businesses.
Before I switched to full-time self-employment, I worked as a business analyst and dealt with many different types of businesses. I saw many businesses that were thriving, and I also saw many that were making mistakes and not doing quite as well.
This post isn’t meant to scare anyone, it’s meant to be more informative. Not all of the mistakes below will lead to total business failure, but they could lead to something that you don’t want such as lost revenue, net losses, losing employees, losing customers and more.
Here are mistakes that you may be making with your business.
Not trying new ideas.
If you have your own business, it may be hard to listen to others. You may have always done things yourself so you may think that you know what is best.
However, you should always consider new ideas or take tips from others. You don’t have to apply everything to your business, just take in the knowledge at least!
You never know when someone will have an incredible tip that will turn your business from “okay” to AMAZING!
Letting costs get out of control.
No matter how great your business is doing, you still want to watch your budget and watch your expenses. Costs can easily get out of control, and once that happens it is usually hard to get back to normal.
And, if your costs have been out of control for a while, it can be hard to get employees back on track as well. If your costs are uncontrollable, you eventually may find yourself in the negative profit territory even if at one point your business was doing great.
Not looking at new markets ever.
It can be easy to get into a static state with your business. However, if your business isn’t doing the greatest, you may have to look into ways to revive your business. You may have to look into new markets for your product.
An example would be if you are a freelance designer. Maybe you only do designs for lifestyle blogs. This market may not be enough to sustain your business right now. In this case, it may be a good idea to look into other areas such as finance websites, online stores, and so on.
Some like to stay focused on one group, while others like to be more diversified. I would rather be more diversified. If you know that what you are currently doing is not working, then diversifying may be your next step.
Having horrible customer service.
Bad customer service is all over the place. I really do not know how companies with horrible customer service stay in business, but somehow they do.
No, the customer is not always right, but you should be trying your best to provide great customer service at least most of the time.
What business mistakes have you seen?
This post was originally published on February 5, 2014.
Great post there Diversified, I’d like to add not looking after employees or referal partners.. This can really damage your reputation..
Suppose this comes under horrible customer service 🙂
Thank you Jeff!
I would say it’s really important to hire experts where you need one vs. trying to take short cuts and just do everything yourself. For example, a book keeper and tax preparer are services that I would recommend outsourcing. That way you can be re-assured that your business is being taken care of, and can free up more of your time to focusing on how to grow your business, sales etc.
Yes Liz! That is another thing that business owners need to do. Not many people can be their company’s lawyer, accountant and so on. It’s usually best to hire out for those things.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is wasting time on tasks that don’t produce income. For whatever reason, people love to think they are the smartest and either know or can find anything but end up screwing themselves in the end.
Why spend hours doing bookkeeping when you can have someone who is proficient and experienced in that task? Why spend countless hours trying to design a website (that comes out looking like shit anyway) when a professional can do it quicker and better? Why attempt to draw up your own legal documents when a lawyer knows exactly how they need to be worded and structured to protect the business’ interests best?
The key in business is to focus on doing what brings in the money. If you spend more time on that, and less time on ancillary stuff, then the cost to outsource those other tasks won’t seem so bad.
Yes, Eric! You are right. As a business analyst, I saw so many people who tried to do things themselves, and this almost always resulted in them losing money and wasting time.
I’ve seen horrible customer service destroy numerous businesses. If you can’t handle your customers in a respectful way, how can you expect to be a success?
I can’t stand bad customer service. Makes me cringe!
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Great post. I agree with all of these points. Having run a business, I let my costs get out of control and it ruined it. I did strive for excellent customer service and that is what kept people coming back!
Yes, good customer service definitely makes people want to come back! 🙂
Great tips Michelle! Having terrible customer service is a super easy way to lose customers.
I think trying new ideas is crucial, especially thinking outside the box ideas. The most successful companies were the ones who are innovative and always looking for new ideas.
One mistake, which may be common in smaller businesses (but I personally haven’t seen it thus far) is not having a website or promoting your business on social media. It always amazes me when I look up a restaurant only to find no website and just the address info. Word of mouth can only take you so far these days.
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I guess this might come under the heading of ‘Not Trying New Ideas’, but not being adaptable is a big one. Times/technology/markets change and if you’re stuck in the mantra of “this is how we’ve always done it”, your business will soon be relegated to the bone yard with the other dinosaurs.
Yes, you need to focus on the details but you also need to keep a close watch on what’s going on around you.
I guess another thing that’s ruining a potential good business is expecting too much in a short period of time and giving up to easily. People tend to think that they can achieve all their goals over night, and when that doesn’t happen they immediately give up. That’s not a good habit and that’s not how you reach success.
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