According to the SBA, as of 2018, there were over 30 million small businesses in the United States. Collectively they employ almost 60 million individuals. It is no secret that small businesses are a huge economic driver to the country; however, they also have a likelihood of running into issues that can lead to failure. Within the first two years, 30 percent of businesses fail, and that number goes up to 50 percent as these enterprises approach five years.
However, while starting a business will always have challenging elements, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. Many of today’s successful leaders began right where you are, and faced difficulties that they eventually overcame. While there are many things you as a small business owner should do, there are a variety of things you shouldn’t do to ensure the lasting success of your business. This article will include advice and quotes from successful leaders about things you should avoid as a business owner.
So, sit back, and check out these six pieces of advice from prosperous and innovative business leaders.
1. Don’t Skimp on Good Staff
“People are the most important thing. Business model and product will follow if you have the right people.” – Adam Neumann, co-founder of WeWork
Human capital may be the most important resources you have as a small business owner. Your employees are your ambassadors, and they represent your brand whenever they interact with internal and external stakeholders. So, do not take the hiring process lightly. In the beginning, it may be tempting to hire on family, friends, or eager early career professionals. However, be sure to only select individuals that believe in your mission and will work just as hard as you to see it come to life.
2. Avoid Underestimating the Power Human Connections Play During the Customer Journey
“Selling is not a pushy, winner-takes-all, macho act. It is an empathy-led, process-driven, and knowledge-intensive discipline. Because, in the end, people buy from people.” – Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree
Never underestimate the power that human connections and personalization play in the sales process. People don’t want stoic ads, impersonal sales calls, and marketing messaging that makes them as if they are just a means-to-an-end. Consumers want to know that brands are willing to create value-added and personal opportunities that show they care about what individuals need. So, always think of ways to promote genuine connections between your company staff and customers during the sales process.
3. Never Be Afraid to Learn Something New
“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew, hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.” – Roy Ash, co-founder, and president of Litton Industries
Entrepreneurship requires you to wear many hats. You will be the HR, accounting, and marketing department before you make those first hires. So, you have to avoid the fear of learning new skills that allow you to run your business. You have to be comfortable with finding the answers you need. Whether it is through watching a YouTube video, asking a mentor for guidance, or reading a book, know that you have the power to figure things out when it is necessary.
4. Don’t Expect Your Customers to Come to You, Go to Them
“Know where your customers are hanging out online. You don’t have to be everywhere. Be where your customers are…and communicate with them there.” – Laurie McCabe, Partner with SMB Group
Today, social media is the digital hang out spot for many of today’s consumers. It is an important part of creating connections with consumers. So, it is crucial that you and your company begin to have a presence on this marketing channel. Find out the platforms that your customers are using the most, and create a strategy for engaging your customers on each one. Social media allows you to market your product, build authenticity, and better handle customer complaints. So, make sure you are present and active on these accounts.
5. Don’t Feel that a Loan or Venture Capital Investments are Always the Answer for Funding
“When in doubt, bootstrap. Using your own personal resources is the easiest way to start a business. You don’t have to convince investors about the merits of your idea. You just have to convince yourself.” – Ryan Holmes, co-founder of Hootsuite
Today, it is hard to look up anything about startup funding without seeing articles promoting the use of loans or venture capital investments. While these are definitely necessary for some, these may not be the way you need to go to fund your company. Many individuals are now bootstrapping their business and providing their own funding. This method allows you to have the freedom not to have to owe anyone else or consider the demands of investors. Always take the time to see how you can bypass these other funding methods and provide your own financial resources.
6. Avoid the Temptation to Ignore Complaints
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
It can be challenging to take criticism, especially when you are a solopreneur or in charge of a lean team. These complaints can feel like a knock-down when you are already sacrificing your time by working around the clock. However, these moments can be a great learning opportunity to optimize your business. If you know what you are doing wrong, you can fix it. Your customers may even be able to save you from a substantial mishap by telling you about something that needs to be improved.
There is a lot to learn in the world of business. Fortunately, many have come before you to experience the highs and lows. As a result, they can provide sound advice for what not to do. In the end, we hope these tips give you the insight you need to bypass becoming a statistic and instead enjoy a successful business journey.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.