The 5 Biggest Mistakes Most Business Owners Make
It's tricky being a business owner.
Nobody tells you when you start out that there is SO MUCH to consider. When you plan your business and start out, you probably expect to spend most of your time doing the *thing* you love - the *thing* that made you want to have a business around it, whether it's crafting or singing or coaching. And it's not until you've taken the leap that you realise that's not the full story.
Most of us spend much of our time NOT doing the *thing* we're in business for.
We're too busy trying to get our head around marketing, legal stuff, tax and accountancy issues, spreadsheets, forecasts, social media and more. That's not including the fact we've got other stuff going on in our life - when you add children and their social life into the equation your time shrinks alarmingly. When I left corporate world in 2005 I felt the same. I had no idea what I was getting into. I made so many mistakes, I'm surprised I even had a business at the end of it. I've been looking back at the mistakes I made and the mistakes I see other business owners making all the time that make it so much harder for them to grow a sustainable, profitable business.There are SO MANY, I had 15 written down but I only gave myself an hour to write this so I've picked my top 5 and I'll do you a 'part 2' blog soon :)
1.Trying To Market To Everyone
Yes, I know I go on and on about this but it's a BIGGIE! You can't market to everyone. You're a 'micro business' owner just like me. You have limited time, money and energy to spend on marketing and so you may as well target those people who are most likely to buy from you - why wouldn't you do that? Why would you waste precious marketing resources on people who AREN'T likely to buy? Who aren't a good fit? It just doesn't make sense, and yet so many people don't know any better so they just throw their marketing out into the world, willy nilly, and hope some of it works. But you know better, right? You are going to focus your marketing on the people who are a great fit for your business, who love what you do, who are most likely to buy out of everyone, who keep coming back, who tell their friends. Agreed? Good.
2. Not Thinking Like A Business Owner
When you ARE your business it can be really tricky to separate out the business from the personal. Let's have a look at some of the symptoms of not thinking like a business owner:
A criticism of your business is a criticism of you
A nasty comment on your Facebook page feels personal
You cave in every time someone asks for a discount because you're 'just little old me'
You hate chasing late payments because your clients might hate you and never come back
You take everything personally, to the point where it's affecting your home life
You actually don't HAVE a home life...
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, don't fret because most women business owners feel like this at some point. Our business is our baby and our products and services are created with our passion, enthusiasm and energy. It's understandable that things feel personal. But you're a business owner and you need to think like one. Thinking like a business owner looks like this:
Taking the higher ground
Not getting caught up in 'little old me syndrome'
Not being bullied into giving discounts
Not being afraid to chase up YOUR money that you're due
Rising above nasty comments on your FB page (they don't know you!)
Taking criticism constructively rather than personally
Putting boundaries in place
It's easier said than done. I've fallen foul of loads of these. But you live and learn. I'm still here and so are you - and the sooner you start to think like a business owner, the sooner your business will start to fly.
3. Pricing Based On What Your Competitors Charge
No, no, no! Stop it! Do you know how your competitors set THEIR prices? I'll tell you. They most likely looked around to see what everyone else what charging and then benchmarked themselves against them - I'm better than them so I can charge more, I'm new so I can't charge as much as her because she's been around for 10 years.... sound familiar.
This is NOT the way to price. No. Remember in #1 when I said you can't market to everyone?
Well, here's a chance to put this concept into practise.
Figure out who your ideal customer or client is. Work out why they love you.
What problems do you solve for them?
How do you make their life better, easier, happier?
How do you save them money, help them lose weight, make their lashes thicker?
Figure out what VALUE you bring to them, what DIFFERENCE you make to their life and then work out what that's WORTH to them.
This might mean you're 3 times the price of your local competitors but so what?
Customers always need a choice, some people (me included) will always choose the most expensive option if it represents better quality and value.
You don't have to compete on price - it's time for you to step out of your comfort zone and change the way things are done around here!
4. Not Being Yourself
I can't tell you the number of times I read 'about' sections on social media or websites and I'm yawning before I've got to the end of the first paragraph. "Our business is the foremost provider of blah blah services in the North East region of the UK", "We are proud to be the current holders of the blah blah award for blah blah", "Our team is professional and highly qualified blah blah blah". Yawn. How does that make you interesting? How does that make you stand out from the competition? How does THAT entice anyone to work with you?? IT DOESN'T!
Stop being sterile!
Just because the big corporates sound like that, doesn't mean you have to. In fact, it's exactly why you shouldn't! They probably feel like they have to have a certainly level of sterile professionalism in their marketing if they're a multinational conglomerate thingy but you're not. You're an awesome, fabulous micro business brimming with passion, purpose and personality. There's nobody like you. You're one of a kind. So STOP BEING BORING.
Avoid 'boring' like the plague.
Stay away from 'sterile'. You can still be professional and be YOU. I'd much rather see a business talking about an award like this "WE WON! We won't bore you with our acceptance speech but we were voted the totally most awesome supplier of knitting needles in the Universe.
Ok, maybe we're exaggerating a bit - we actually won 'haberdashery supplier of the year for the North East region' but our version sounds funkier. We wouldn't be here without you so we want you to share our award too - here's a picture you can print off and stick on your wall'...
Do you see what I mean? I'd MUCH rather buy from them than someone who says "We are proud to be the current holders of the blah blah award for blah blah". It's time to infuse your personality into and through your business as if it was a stick of Blackpool Rock.
The BEST news is that when you do this, your competitors can't touch you. They can't copy, they can't compete because you're not just selling products, you're selling YOU, your TEAM, your PASSION, your PURPOSE, your ZING. It puts a whole new spin on all of your marketing and I'm telling you it's your time to shine. Today! (I can see you glowing already.)
5. Not Being Consistent And Persistent With Marketing
You've tried that idea once, it didn't work, so you gave up. If I had a penny for everyone who told me something similar in the past month I'd have at least 24p by now, which would nearly buy me half a Curly Wurly.
Marketing takes time.
Lots of time. Marketing is an ongoing process. It's not something you do once and then give up. So stop being flaky and start marketing like you mean it! I teach my clients that they need to give their marketing 3-6 months before they really see the results. 3-6 months and that's AFTER you've sussed out your ideal customer and started focusing all your marketing on them. It's ages. I know. And that can be quite depressing, especially if you're short of money and desperate for sales but I don't want to build your hopes up. Don't get me wrong, if you get your marketing approach right then you'll sell stuff during that 3-6 month period, of course you will, but if you carry on marketing, and marketing, and marketing some more by the end of 6 months you'll REALLY start to see the effect.
Think about it.
How long does it take you to properly take notice of a new business out there? Maybe you see them posting a bit on social media, maybe you walk past their shop occasionally, maybe you see an ad in the local paper. Eventually, when you've got time in your busy life you might check out their website or pop into the shop. And you might even buy something, but you'll probably just take a look around and file it in your head for 'when I need it later'.
People buy when they are ready to buy, not when you need them to.
Your urgency is not their urgency.
And if you stop marketing in the meantime and they go searching for you and can't remember your business name, they might not find you. Whereas, if you've tempted them onto your subscriber list with a juicy offer, you send them lovely deals and show off your wares in a monthly e-newsletter, you post every day on social media and you blog every couple of weeks to keep your website content fresh, you stand a MUCH better chance of being found (and you'll probably find that people spend more with you because you're showing them stuff they love all the time).
Phew! So, how many of these mistakes have you made or are you still making?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments if these struck a chord! Don't beat yourself up about them but DO look at them from a new perspective and fix them going forward. I want your business to be the best it can be, you deserve it after all the hard work you've put into it so don't let these 5 silly mistakes hold you back!