I’ve compiled this list from my experiences of coaching many clients who owned small businesses or ran their own one-person business. And to that I must add my own experiences with my own business. Many of these points are transferable to people in other situations.
Of course this list is not comprehensive. There are many other mistakes to be made, but these are the ones I came across most often.
- Lacking focus
This is the number one mistake that small business owners make. It manifests itself in many ways. These include a lack of clarity about their goals, losing sight of the core business, not clearing the decks for action. and worst of all constantly chopping and changing what one is doing.
- Lacking perseverance
Failing to appreciate how much time it takes time to build a new business before it’s profitable, and consequently running out of finance and/or the motivation to continue.
- Failing to strategize
It’s very easy to get so immersed in the day-to-day work of the business that one doesn’t spend anything like enough time on making the decisions that are necessary to take the business forward.
- Poor delegation
One of the reasons for failing to strategize is poor delegation. Work that only you as owner and manager can do must take priority over work that someone else could do. Even in a one-person business a lot of the routine work can be outsourced.
- Not being on top of the figures
Knowing the day-to-day financial details of your business is essential. You cannot make decisions without the figures to back them up.
- Getting into a rut
Once the business reaches a certain level there is a tendency to carry on doing the same old thing in the same old way. Unfortunately the world moves on so fast these days that what may have made sense a couple of years ago no longer does.
- Blaming the customers
Everyone knows the saying The customer is always right, but it’s surprising how easy it is to forget it. It’s usually thought to apply to customer service, but in fact it applies to every aspect of your business. If people don’t like your product and don’t want to buy it, it’s not their fault - it’s yours. If they don’t respond to your advertising, it’s not their fault - it’s yours. If they criticise some aspect of your business, it’s not their fault - it’s yours.