The 12 Dumbest -- And Most Common -- Small Business Mistakes
With more and more people starting businesses of their own -- out of necessity, not choice -- I'm seeing more and more people making the same mistakes over and over again.
Here is my top 12 list for the dumbest entrepreneurial moves. All are easily avoidable with a little common sense and street smarts:
NO. 1: NOT KNOWING YOUR CUSTOMERS
Without customers, it's not a business. Successful entrepreneurs are lifelong students of human nature. People often don't buy things they ought to buy. People often don't buy things they say (in opinion surveys) they will buy. People often don't buy things that make the world a better place. People often prefer inferior things to superior ones. You must learn what really motivates your customers to part with their hard-earned cash, and market to them as they really are, not as you want them to be or as they should be.
NO. 2: NOT MARKETING AGGRESSIVELY ENOUGH
Marketing is a daily job. Your business must be ubiquitous; your customers should see you everywhere they look. Never get so busy with day-to-day operations that you let your marketing slide. Each day, do one new thing to reach more customers or remind your existing customers you're still there.
NO. 3: OVERESTIMATING CUSTOMER LOYALTY
The epitaph of many failed businesses: "Yeah, a big-box retailer just moved into town, but my customers will be loyal to me because I provide better service." People want better service, but they won't pay extra for it. If you're not giving them the best deal in town, you will lose them.
NO. 4: BEING TOO SLOW TO ADAPT TO CHANGES
Things change rapidly. New technologies wipe out whole business models. Competitors change their strategies. People change their minds about what they will (and won't) buy. You must be ahead of those changes, not frantically trying to catch up. If it seems your world isn't changing, you're not looking hard enough.