So, you’ve decided to exit the corporate jungle and go into business for yourself. First of all: congratulations! You’ve started a journey that has the potential to be satisfying on a personal level, and lucrative on a professional level.
However, as you probably know, many new businesses don’t make it to their first anniversary, and more than half disappear by their fifth birthday. Obviously, there are some success factors beyond anyone’s control — including ol’ fashioned good luck. But there are some variables that new business owners like you should be aware of, in order to increase the odds that your experience going forward will be rewarding instead of regrettable.
Specifically, here are five fatal mistakes that many new business owners make — and that you should (or make that must!) avoid:
- Not having a plan.
You need a robust and realistic business plan, as well as a marketing plan. As the old saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. This cruel axiom is vividly illustrated on the business landscape on a daily basis.
- Not targeting buyer personas.
Customers don’t buy products or services. Essentially, they buy solutions to their problems. Make sure that you identify your specific buyer personas, and target your offerings accordingly. Otherwise you can (and likely will) end up chasing the wrong customer group or groups, and leaving thousands — or maybe millions — of dollars in revenue on the table.
- Waiting to invest in marketing.
Invest in cost effective strategies like a great website, SEM and vehicle wraps. Don’t wait until you have an ample marketing budget before you start generating brand visibility. Otherwise, you could become the best kept secret in your marketplace — which is a curse and not a blessing!
- Not hiring the right people.
Chances are that you’re on a shoestring budget, and there’s no way that you can afford top talent. But that doesn’t mean that you should (or even could) do everything yourself. Until you have the capital you need to support a workforce, do what’s in your wheelhouse, and farm out the rest to specialists and contractors. You’ll save and make money by having things done right the first time.
- Getting impatient.
While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, for most small business owners the road to fortune and fame is a marathon vs. a sprint. If you have unreasonable expectations, then it’s inevitable that you’ll get impatient and pull the plug too early — which will kill your business and your dream. You need to be committed, or else you’re better off getting a regular paycheck from an employer.
The Bottom Line
Being at the helm of a dynamic new small business is like riding a roller coaster. It’s exhilarating — and at times, terrifying! But if you avoid all of the mistakes above, then give your small business more than a fighting chance to survive in the short-run, and ideally thrive for decades to come!
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