As an entrepreneur, it's easy to feel as if you're always doing something wrong. Perhaps you've lost a big client, or your best developer quit yesterday.
Nobody is perfect. However, there are several mistakes you need to be on the lookout for as a business owner. No business owner has had ease in starting a business without a few blunders along the way. Mistakes are inevitable, and you will make them. It's how you learn from your mistakes which will define your future success. In this piece, we will cover critical mistakes which most business owners make at some point in their business lifecycle.
Let's take a look at what you should watch out for and how to fix it should find yourself in any of the following scenarios.
1. Planning far ahead enough.
Having a robust plan is the key to running any successful business. A business plan has to be written down and not in the back of your mind. That being said, your plan need not be 100 pages, even a few pages of goals jotted down is better than no plan at all. However, it is imperative that you plan for both the short and long-term of your business. What do you hope to achieve in three months? Six months? A year or five years?
A business plan is not just about how much profits you hope to make. It should outline everything, including how you'll make money. Will you make use of affiliate programs? Does your business rely on software subscription income? Have you considered investing in content marketing?
A meticulous business plan also includes thought-out milestones, for example, when you'll reach 100 subscribers or 10,000 customers. It would be best if you also considered the distant future and an exit strategy. An exit strategy is also known as a succession plan, which details what will occur to your company when you decide on retiring or leaving.
If you don't have a solid succession plan, your company will likely fail if you left it.
Having a business plan that covers all your business's financial and operational goals is vital to long-term success in today's dog-eat-dog marketplace.
2. Don't change strategies too often.
Changing strategies too often is a mistake that entrepreneurs make too often. Of course, should a tactic not work, abandoning it and trying something new is advisable. We are not suggesting that you should never change things.
However, many business owners do not give their strategies enough time to glean real results before giving up.
Take blogging, for example. Many bloggers find that when they start out, no one reads their posts. However, this is how content marketing works for everyone. It's crucial for bloggers to put in loads of effort with little to no reward for a few months, in some cases even longer.
It can take years before your blog makes profits, and it can take months before B2B blogs result in solid leads.
However, over time, content marketing does work. The statistics exist and are well-documented. Business owners who publish 16+ blog posts a month earn an average of 4.5 X leads when compared to those who post 0 - 4 per month.
Any seasoned blogger will tell you that it takes time to build momentum and drive traffic to your blog. It's here where determination and belief in your strategy come into play. So you've written five blog posts and achieved zero sales or leads? Should you give up? No. As a business owner, you can't think this way when it comes to properly marketing your business. Give it three to six months before you begin evaluating your blog performance. Then, give it an additional six months before deciding whether its successful or not.
Perhaps you're still not generating solid leads after a year; it's at this point where you could consider making some strategic changes.
3. Take action!
Not doing anything at all is even worse than not having a plan or changing your strategy too often. "Wantrepreneurs" is a term for people who conduct sufficient research to start a business but rarely act on it. Many people have the dream of being their own boss and running a business but lack the conviction and work ethic to get there.
Perhaps, you've considered starting a consulting business. You've researched how to create a website and how to acquire clients. You've written a fifty-page business plan which outlines everything you require to achieve your goals. Perhaps you even have a folder on your computer full of to-do lists and notes. But have you ever ticked anything off those lists?
Conducting sufficient research before launching a business is a great idea, but try to avoid becoming bogged down with research which results in you not taking action. Once you've researched where and how to get clients, do it! Planning means absolutely nothing without action.
4. Offer fewer discounts.
Offering coupons and discounts on your products or services is a surefire strategy in attracting new customers, especially in the e-commerce arena. Offering coupons on digital products can be a useful strategy for speedily acquiring many users for your product.
Numerous software businesses offer a discount to purchase an annual plan instead of a month-to-month plan. A saving of this nature encourages users to buy a full-year subscription even if they didn't initially plan on doing it.
Discounts of this nature are highly effective if offered in moderation. The key is ensuring your profit margins remain healthy on discounted services or products. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking heavily discounted services and products will pay off in the long-term, despite them losing money for a short while. However, this is not the correct way to do it.
Customers who take advantage of your huge discounts will inevitably expect that price forever. In fact, many will wait around for your next sale or discount to renew their subscriptions or purchase new products as they know one will present itself soon enough. And this only serves in hurting your long-term brand credibility.
In software, it's fashionable to offer a freemium plan. Freemium refers to a free plan that still allows the user to benefit from the product. Let's take Dropbox as an example, you can use the service in the same way a paying customer does for free, but you'll have a limited amount of free storage.
Over time, many freemium customers convert into paying customers. Having a conversion rate of around 4% is impressive. Did you know that Spotify has a conversion rate of almost 27%?
The trick is to make your product useful enough on the freemium offering but still have enough desirable premium features to entice users to upgrade.
However, it's critical to determine your numbers and know how profitable this model is for you. Your paying customers must carry the weight of your freemium ones. Ensure that you're still making money when you consider this.
5. Outsource more.
Many business owners are guilty of not outsourcing enough. They try to do everything, including things they might not be capable of, such as developing apps. Many marketers believe they should handle every aspect of sales and marketing by themselves because they think it is wasteful to recruit the help of someone else. However, this attitude could not be more wrong. Often, outsourcing has a negative connotation as it seems as if you're taking work away from others. However, it need not be this way at all. Freelancing has gained massive popularity in the past few years.
By outsourcing specific jobs in your business to freelancers, you're effectively contributing to their companies and career growth too.
Learning to outsource is vitally important. As an entrepreneur, you have to steer your business growth and innovation. If you have the help of employees, your focus needs to be on leadership and not day-to-day tasks you shouldn't be doing.
That being said, if you're the only person in your company, you can't do everything either. Outsourcing frees up valuable time that you can use to grow your company.
6. Don't work too hard.
Working too hard is by far, the most common mistake that many entrepreneurs make. Many work routinely for up to 12 hours a day, while on others adhering to 8 hours. The secret is to work longer days when you're inspired, not solely because you believe you're achieving more. It's this kind of workaholic attitude which leads to stress and burnout.
Science and research have revealed the limits of productivity to be at 50 hours per week. After 50 hours have been reached, productivity takes a massive dip. Many believe that they're different and always productive, but in reality, it's not true.
A person who works 70 hours per week does not actually accomplish more than a person who works 55 hours per week.
Our brains need sufficient rest for them to function best. Perhaps you have a long day ahead; it's wise to optimise productivity by taking frequent breaks.
Furthermore, as a business owner, you need to set aside time for vacations. You might believe that your presence is required every day for your business to thrive, but the truth is, nothing will come crashing down if you take a week or two for deserved R&R.
Much like small breaks boost productivity in your day-to-day, holidays will ultimately increase your work quality and creativity.
It's no easy feat being an entrepreneur. However, with enough drive and determination to put in the hours, you can succeed. Remember not to allow mistakes to discourage or stop you. Every business owner makes hundreds, and some cases thousands of errors.
Learn from your mistakes and keep on soldiering on.