Common Mistakes People Make When Starting Their Business

Getting ready to launch a brand-new business? That's a big and exciting move to make—but there are a lot of mistakes you could make along the way if you're not paying attention.

Sure, not all mistakes are bad, especially if you learn from them. But if you know the potential pitfalls many new entrepreneurs fall into, you can increase your own chances of success by learning from the mistakes others have made. Here are five common ones to avoid.

Thinking That If You Build It, They'll Come

The truth is, people won't walk through your door just because you built one for them. You need to actively market yourself, whether that's handing out samples on the sidewalk for your brick and mortar business or getting smart about social media marketing for your online storefront.

Regardless of what kind of business you own, a strong online presence is imperative for getting customers in the door. Most consumers begin a buying journey by running a Google search. Does your business show up when people run queries relevant to what you do or provide?

If not, fix that ASAP. Build a simple, SEO-optimized website explaining what you do and how people can find you. Consider the best ways to reach the kinds of customers you want to target. Make sure you have a robust marketing plan that includes a strategy for both in-person and outbound marketing and inbound and digital marketing.

Focusing on Tactics Rather Than Strategy

That said, simply throwing marketing tactics against the wall and hoping they'll stick is likely to exhaust your time, resources, and energy—fast. Most new business owners focus far too much on what they should do without first creating a strategy for why they're doing it in the first place.

A strategy is the overall approach to goals and problems. It's the plan. Tactics, on the other hand, are the to-dos to execute that plan. If your strategy, for example, is to sell your services to older consumers, then you can choose tactics that are most likely to reach that audience—which, in this case, might be optimizing your site for desktop use and focusing on distributing your message on email and news channels (rather than spending tons of time on social media) because that's what that demographic prefers.

If you can work out your strategy first, you won't need to ask "what should I do for marketing?" or "where should I find more clients?" Create the strategy, and the tactics become obvious.

Saying "Yes" to Everyone

At this point, saying "try to please everyone and you'll please no one" is cliche. But that's for good reason: it's true!

As a business owner, you need to understand exactly who you serve—and perhaps even more important, you need to be clear on who you don't. Choose a niche and focus in on that specific group of people whose problem you can solve.

And yes, it is really hard to do this when you just launched, especially if you operate a service business. The temptation (and the mistake) is to say "yes" to every prospective client that comes through the door. But stay focused and serve your niche, not the general public.

Discounting Your Value

When you first launch, it's tempting to offer people deals and to give in to customers who want to haggle just so you can make the sale. Throw in fears about failing or mindsets like imposter syndrome, and it's easy to see why many entrepreneurs make the mistake of undervaluing themselves when they start their businesses.

Do your research and understand the market you're in to help you set prices. You can also consider the value of your time (or your hourly rate) when creating a price that's fair. And then stick to it!

Expecting Overnight Success

Many budding entrepreneurs don't have realistic expectations for business growth when they first start. It's hard to stay patient, especially in those early days—but it may take some time to become profitable.

While optimism and positive thinking are both necessary to success, you need to balance that with a dose of realism. Research your industry to know what kind of growth rate reflects realistic expectations. Identify your challenges and your weaknesses, and lay out plans for dealing with each as you work to reach the success you want.

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Friday, February 16, 2018