These days everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, so way too many people rush into the world of small business headfirst, without taking into consideration the many variables that can make you or break you. Some even luck out and are able to quickly learn from their mistakes on the fly, but most fail within the first year. This is why you see a few people at the other end of the spectrum – fairly ambitious, yet careful and calculated.
The careful approach can be a good one, but it is easy to get bogged down in various technicalities and have your business stagnate. If you are interested in promoting growth and expanding your business, then you should try to address the common issues small business face, which are discussed in more detail bellow.
1. You don’t engage your customers
“Engaging the customers” is kind of a broad term, so let’s look at some of the different aspects it covers:
- Good customer service
- Rewarding loyalty
- Inspiring trust
- Social media interaction
- Asking for feedback
If you want to learn more about what the customers want, then go and ask them. Granted it takes a bit of work, but developing a great relationship with the customers and building a loyal following has many benefits. This extends to online shopping as well. Whether you are opening online shop or want to start selling your goods on Amazon, there is a right way to do things. It involves creating a great shopping experience for the customers. This means that they can find what they are looking for effectively, have access to interesting offers if they buy multiple products, can get in contact with you and sort out any problems, and they need to be able to finish the whole process quickly.
2. You try to do to everything yourself
It’s one thing to be very hands on and not want to delegate simple tasks, but once you start doing 4-6 different things it keeps you away from the really important stuff. Let’s say you are a great cook and have opened your own restaurant. You need to be focused on keeping the quality of the food and the service up to standard, and on making the right adjustments.
If you suddenly start mopping the floors, acting as head chef, doing your own accounting, promoting the restaurant on social media and posting two articles a day on your website’s blog, chances are you are going to burn out, and the restaurant will be in a poor state. You don’t have to hire an army of people, but be sure to delegate the heavy grunt work and focus on making business decisions and managing your employees.
3. You don’t utilize modern technology to its full potential
We’ve already touched on the importance of social media interactions, but small business can be greatly improved through the liberal use of online technologies. With fast and adaptable approaches to software development, i.e. focusing on agile methodology, it is possible get exactly what you need in a relatively short time, through effective communication with the developers and on-the-fly tweaks.
A good website allows companies to reach out and market themselves to an international audience, while the right custom software helps them significantly improve their efficiency, cut down on costs, and. For retailers and restaurants, switching to a more modern POS system can make a huge difference, while many different small business can save time and money in the long run using applications specifically tailored to their needs.
4. You don’t set yourself apart from everyone else
A business can do quite well, and stay afloat for years making a modest profit even if it doesn’t have any special features that make them particularly unique or appealing. However, you never want to get into the “let’s just get by” mindset, as it will all but ensure that your business never grows past those initial stages. Unless you are dealing with a very limited niche market, you will have to deal with a relatively saturated market, so any defining feature that helps you stand out and makes people remember you is going to be a key component in sparking growth.
5. You focus on growth at the expense of everything else
There will come a time where you have enough of a demand for your products and to warrant expansion, and an efficiency that allows for this expansion to happen. However, it needs to be done strategically. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of jumping at the opportunity to expand their business at the first chance they get, and focusing all their energy on that goal. This can lead to a drop in quality of service as you start spreading your resources thin. It is important to scale your growth based on what you can realistically handle without sacrificing productivity or quality.
6. You can’t handle the extra workload effectively
This is a direct extension of the last point. A lot of people believe that once their business starts growing things will magically fall into place and that they will be able to sit back and let this well-oiled money-making machine of theirs keep growing exponentially. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As your business grows so do your obligations and complications. It’s easy to underestimate the level of work that goes into it, and face the sobering truth – you are not prepared to take on the extra workload. This is where things can really fall apart, forcing businesses to work hard just to stay afloat, let alone turn a profit.
Even if you make the first big steps and start growing your business, you can still hit a wall if you haven’t planed things out right. It’s similar to how Hollywood movies often go well over the initial budget as the production drags on, and many of them end up as scrapped projects as a result. Be realistic about how much a project will cost and how much time and effort it will take to see it through. If you are overconfident and don’t anticipate little setbacks and hidden costs, you may very well cut yourself short and keep stagnating.