It’s easy to make simple mistakes in business that cost growth, lose staff and reduce profits.Self-auditing your company for these 20 common business mistakes is a great start to avoiding pitfalls and positioning solidly for growth. And none of them are expensive to change.In fact most are simply about doing more and better with what you already have…
1. Not sharing goals with your team
Sharing specific targets and objectives with your team can be a great way to rally them to a common cause and inspire the kinds of behaviour and outcomes you want. People like common interests, common goals and an alignment of themselves to a company. So make clear your plans, your targets and what your team need to do in order to reach them.
2. Not having the right marketing plan
Most companies don’t have a marketing plan. Yet a working plan has been shown to be integral to driving growth, even if that plan changes regularly. A good marketing lists yourmarket and competitor traits; lists your objectives, states your strategies, outlines your customer-getting and customer-keeping strategies and plots your costs and revenues. And it gets opened weekly.
3. Not building processes and systems early
It’s well worth building the right structure for your business early and recognising the work and tasks that must always be done right. Businesses that are structured right, early, can grow without looming constraints like liability, tax issues and new equity partners. And companies that recognise those tasks that get repeated and are important will enshrine them early in procedures, templates and forms. These secure continuity and quality. They keep customers longer and staff happier.
4. Not sharing decisions with others in the business
One person making all key decisions can limit growth. It’s the same person, with the same limitations and stopping the growth of others. To grow your company, your people need to grow, too, and decisions must be delegated. So hire decision-makers not just ‘helpers’ and build a kind of board structure. It brings in greater insights, better decisions and better outcomes.
5. Not having a genuine USP
A Unique Selling Proposition is more compelling than a slogan or tagline. It tells your customer how you’re different and makes every marketing dollar work harder. To find your USP, know what your market wants, what your competitors don’t claim and what you can deliver. A famous example:
“Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free” by Dominos.
6. Not focussing on the right customers
It’s possible to increase business by merely selecting and deselecting targets. Rank your customers from top to bottom in terms of their cumulative value to you. Then profile your top 20%. These top 20% are a map of the customers you should be prioritising. Profile the bottom 20% and avoid targeting them if it’s at the expense of chasing your top 20%.
7. Not knowing your customer’s needs
Despite their success to-date, most companies do not know enough about their customers’ dislikes, fears and their unmet wish-list. Companies assume that transacting with customers means they know them and that competitors and customers don’t change. Both assumptions are wrong. Staying up-to-date on what your market wants, does not want and quietly fears when considering a company like yours is the key to a competitive advantage.
8. Not setting realistic financial goals
Setting ambitious goals can be very motivating. But not if you never reach them. Your team will be inspired if you set goals and reach them. Set them to low and you don’t stretch them.Set them too high and disbelief grows. Set specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time specific objectives. This is the SMART acronym. It grows businesses and fosters faith.
9. Not hiring people who challenge you
Hire people who are bigger than you, not smaller than you. If you hire people smaller than you, you will be busy and feel clever but you won’t be growing a business. If you hire people who are greater than you, you will not be as busy and while you may not feel as clever you will nonetheless grow a stronger company.
10. Not being a strong leader
A strong leader is not authoritarian, but is not a push over. A strong leader is simply emotionally mature, stable, clear thinking and helps their team perform at their best. They are seen not necessarily by their own work but by the work of those around them. They set the direction, they arm their team, they communicate well and they get the team to where they want to be.
11. Not staying focussed on the important issues
It can be hard to focus on the most important things and not be distracted by ‘fires’. But this is exactly what you must try hard to do. Sacrificing some urgent things for more important things can be what builds a business and what gets you out of living day-to-day. Know when to delegate, when to rest, and how to utilise your team better.
12. Not delegating to your team
You cannot do it all by yourself. Delegate to your team and be happy seeing something done well enough that you secretly know you could have done better yourself. You must do the work that is your highest and best use, your HABU. If you only achieve that, but achieve it well, you are doing well. Leave to your team the other tasks that stop you from that.
13. Not defending your prices
Price-competing is an easy reaction to tough times but it doesn’t always work. Instead, it can bleed profit and win no more customers. Often, customers are happy to buy more expensive options for greater quality or convenience. So it might seem counter-intuitive, but in tough times defend your prices and try to offer more. You can win customers rather than lose them.
14. Not educating your clients
This is one of the most common causes of price competition and lost clients. There are usually hidden aspects to your product, service, or business. Educate your market about how you’re different, and they will be more likely to favour you over your competitors and be flexible on price.
15. Not making an explicit offer
An offer is simple but not always made clear by companies in their collateral. A good offer promises some kind of explicit benefit and the best places for an offer are in corporate websites, brochures, advertisements and other core collateral.
16. Not soliciting a response
We wouldn’t accept a salesperson who didn’t ask for the sale. But a lot of companies fail to see that their marketing assets and activities need to do the same. The website, brochures, advertisements and other communications knock on a lot more doors than a salesperson.And they all need to make it clear what you want your market to do next.
17. Not testing your idea first
Never spend on an untested idea what you can’t afford to lose. That simple rule prevents you spending too much on ideas that seem right but are flawed in ways not immediately. Testing small avoids such losses. Virtually everything can be tested: new product ideas, new services, new promises, new ways of transacting, new business models, new marketing methods and more.
18. Not making it easy to do business with you
Do your clients like to order online, but you don’t offer that? Do they hate the paperwork involved in buying from you? Do they crave standing orders but are not given the opportunity? Does your contact team have poor phone manner? How easy it is or isn’t to do business with you can make or break an otherwise perfect ensemble of product and promotion.
19. Not growing the value of your customers
Customers are expensive to get but once you have a customer on board, they are your most valuable asset. Your take now is to ethically leverage them and nurture them to be worth more to you over time. Try up-selling, cross-selling, bundling different products and services, keeping in contact with them, soliciting referrals, creating loyalty schemes and seeking other ways to grow their value.
20. Not re-evaluating and updating your strategy
All strategies have a use-by date. Your opening strategy will soon become wrong. So be open and flexible to re-developing your strategy around changes in market, competitors, changes in what you sell and in how you can sell it. Schedule periodic reviews and stay alert for changes outside your company.
…Avoiding these 20 mistakes doesn’t take much time, effort or resources. In fact it can help you get more from your time, more from your people and customers and more from your revenues. Share them with your team and you’ll gain their understanding and their contribution.