Starting a new business is an exciting time. New ideas, a fresh start, and thrilling plans – what’s not to like? But along with the good comes the bad. The worries, the stress, the long hours and more. And with statistics showing that 51% of small businesses in the UK fail in their first year, it’s important to get things right if you’re to be in with a chance of succeeding.
But don’t be down, if you can avoid these 5 common mistakes that lots of start-ups make, you’re well on your way to success.
1) Not researching the market
It’s easy to think that because you’re thrilled with your new business idea, everyone else will be too. You become so tied up in what you believe is a great idea that you forget to find out if others think the same. Your new product or service may be the best thing since sliced bread to you, but if others don’t agree, you’ll soon find yourself with no customers – a slight no-no for a new business!
If you’re starting a new business, spend some time researching the market, finding out if there’s room for a new player on the scene – in short, are you going to be able to sell what you’re offering?
2) Being unable to delegate
When you start out, you’re your own marketing director, finance department, debt collector, project manager, chief cook and bottle washer. But once the work starts coming in, things start to slide. Maybe you forget to invoice a client, don’t realise another one hasn’t paid for 3 months, can’t keep up with marketing and find prospecting phone calls to potential clients are a thing of the past. You’re so busy working IN the business that you don’t have time to work ON the business.
Delegating the tasks that take up your time (and let’s face it, weren’t the reason you got into business in the first place) to someone who is good at them (link someone who is good at them to your services page) leaves you free to concentrate on what matters – servicing your customers.
3) Always saying ‘Yes’
When your business is new it’s very tempting to say yes to any potential custom that comes your way, no matter how little margin it has or how much time it will take. You’re so thrilled to have clients or customers, and still worrying where the next one will come from, that it’s easy to find yourself with lots of work you don’t actually enjoy doing.
Think carefully before you blindly say yes – is the work being offered a part of your initial services or are you compromising yourself just to get a client? Unless there’s a very good reason, No may be the better answer.
4) Ignoring the marketing
Starting out, you probably did a lot of marketing – with no customers; you had the time, right? You were everywhere on Social media, made telesales calls for hours on end, sent out email newsletters, placed ads in the local press, went networking and more. But once the clients start rolling in, you’re so busy on the fulfilment side of your business that the marketing takes a back seat.
Which is all well and good, until you’ve finished the jobs for the customers you have and realise there are no more customers lined up to work for, as no-one knows about you due to the lack of marketing.
It’s important that you maintain a good standard of regular marketing, either on or offline, all the time, not just in the quiet times, or pretty soon quiet times will be all you have left. Consider delegating some marketing tasks while you fulfil the orders.
5) Spend spend spend
Business cards, leaflets, an expensive website, ads in newspapers, listings in paid directories, a logo for the car, branded folders, giveaway pens… the list of things you can buy to promote your business is endless, and oh so tempting. Before you know it, your initial investment in the business has been spent, and all you have to show is a cupboard full of ‘My Company’ mugs that you always forget to take out to meetings anyway.
While it’s nice to have all the great branding and marketing, it’s not essential – take the list of things you WANT and break it down until you have a list of things you NEED. Be brutal – branded folders probably aren’t a must have at this stage of your business. Save your money for more important things while you’re building your business.
It’s great to be at the start of something new and exciting, and I love to see new businesses launching and being successful – avoid the pitfalls above and you’ll be well on your way to beating that 51% statistic! If you need some help in avoiding these 5 mistakes and want to talk it through, then please either get in touch and of course these are just 5 possible mistakes, if there are others that you think its worth adding to this list – please add them to the comments section below.