Did you recently escape from the rat race? Are you planning to?
Jumping ship on a “stable” job and carving your own path can be very intimidating. You spend countless sleepless nights wondering:
Will I make enough to feed my family?
Will I fail and will friends and family laugh at me?
Will I keep my sanity?
The path you’ve chosen is not an easy one. Many mistakes will be made. You’ll learn from your own mistakes. But the wise person learns from the mistakes of others.
Here follows a few big mistakes that new business owners (and even some established ones!) make.
- Doing everything by yourself
If you were lower down on that corporate ladder, you probably have a clerk or Personal Assistant to help you out. You’re used to doing things on your own. You’re comfortable with it.
Or doing it yourself is the only way to ensure it’s done right.
This is not sustainable.
Running a business is a more daunting than making sure paperwork is in order. You need to schedule meetings with investors and clients. Put out fires (not literally, I hope). Ensure your service delivery or product is up to standard. Keep supply and distribution channels open and healthy. Sell like the best of them.
You can’t do it all by yourself. It has never been easier to get help. There are a lot of places online that you can find outsourced services that are affordable.
You could give platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr a go but from our experience, you get what you pay for, and chances are you’ll end up wasting a lot of time (and money) digging to find the right resource to accomplish what you want.
You’re better off, in our opinion, to join a community of like-minded ex-corporates turned small business owners who can recommend and refer tried and tested quality service providers to you.
Do you understand your mindset? Do you understand the mindset of those around you? Are they aligned?
It’s important that you align yourself and your employees towards the same goal. If not, it will be like trying to build a house while the other half of your team destroys it. It won’t get anywhere.
Then you’ve got the fixed vs. the growth mindset.
Carol Dweck wrote a book called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” In it, she speaks of a fixed mindset as one who believes that intelligence and talent are fixed. This mindset eliminates development.
The growth mindset looks at an employee as a “blank canvass”, in a way. You train and coach them into the employees your business needs.
Which one are you? Is it helping your business?
The Wrong Tools
Some small business owners get seduced by the promise (bells and whistles) of expensive software solutions like Hubspot and Infusionsoft, only to discover that it’s too early for their business to invest in solutions like these. This results in the business hemorrhaging money on monthly software license fees and scrambling to stay afloat.
According to an interesting article on LinkedIn, there are many costs that could be incurred. One obvious cost is the replacement of failed software. Another is dual-running costs. As an old system is phased out, you often have to run both old and new systems for a time.
Then you’ve got your less obvious costs. One of these is opportunity costs. The employees spend time messing about with an inefficient system. That time could better be utilized seeking new opportunities. This could mean a few missed opportunities, too.
That is why selecting the right tools to suit your business needs can be a vital part of success. Get the right tools by seeking expert help. Research before you buy. Find out why others have or haven’t adopted a certain technology before you rush into a decision.
We’re back to doing it ourselves. You know there’s a ton of admin to get done. You know you’ll get to it eventually. You just don’t have time to do it right now.
Tax time comes around and you rush to do the admin. You don’t know what’s going on. There are missing documents that were never scanned in. Papers are torn, spoiled or grew feet and ran. You’re in trouble.
It will all work out, I’m sure, but at what cost?
Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) or admin assistant can help prevent this problem before it becomes a problem. Think proactive, not reactive, and you’ll be fine.
You know how it is. Routines are lame. Routines are boring. That’s why you quit that routine day job and struck out on your own.
But routines are important, like it or not. People have been successful without routines, but it’s more ‘in spite of’ than ‘because of’. Routines help you to regulate your work day and get the important things done. Prioritizing is key.
At the end of the day you’ll have more time to do the things you want. You’ll have more time for family and be less stressed. Experiment and find a routine that works for you.
- Find the Wrong Clients
You know the type. They’re noisy, pushy, demanding immediate attention, etc. They eat up your time and provide less value at the end of the day.
Finding the right client is very important. You need to find fulfilment in the people you work for. Working on something you don’t believe in can drain your soul. Soon you’ll be right back where you started, a soulless slave to a business, albeit your own.
Identify your ideal client. Picture them in your mind. Know their routine. Know their hobbies, their hopes, their dreams.
Now you have a direction for your marketing strategy. That person you’re imagining, you need to get under his skin with your campaign. When he is exposed to your brand he needs to think “gosh, did someone create this company specifically for me?”
The answer to that better be yes.
Wrong clients can be a soul-killer, and damaging to business. Avoid.
- Poor or non-existent business model
Rushing into a business without a suitable model is like rushing into modern warfare with a rusty old rapier. Don’t do it. Or, if you already have, find an on-battlefield replacement.
Proper work is required to find the business model that suits your needs. There are a lot of things to consider. Pricing strategies, marketing strategies, profit margins, etc.
The most important things to consider when choosing a business model are:
- Simplicity – ex. “buy with the click of a button!”
- Recurring – will customers be loyal/consumable service
- Easy payment – using the right payment system/software
- Scalable – aim high and don’t settle
Pricing is a big one. The pricing model in itself can make or break your business. Price too high – “Ugh, that’s way too expensive”. Price too low – “Probably junk”. That, or you don’t make any profits. Pricing should be adjusted regularly to suit demand and market trends.
For service-based businesses, it gets even more complicated, with hourly based billing, fixed billing and value-based all competing for attention.
Invest time in finding the right business model for you. You won’t be sorry.
- Underselling your product
Business is a hustle. If you’re just starting out, you’ll have to peddle those streets (virtual or physical). Some products do sell themselves, but they need to be under the eyes of the consumer to do that.
Make sure your marketing strategy suits your target market. Make sure your marketing efforts reach your target market.
You spend a lot of money on marketing, and ineffective marketing is costly to any business.
So make sure you have a marketing strategy that includes the 7’P’s of marketing:
- Product – what you sell, and does it have an active market for it?
- Price – how much your customers are willing to pay
- Promotion – the activities you’ll conduct to get your products and services in front of your target audience (your content strategy and social media strategy will be important here as part of your digital promotion activities)
- Place – where your products and services are seen, made, sold or distributed. This can be online and/or offline.
- People – what’s your internal and external company culture, who are your people, and how do they interact with customers? Your people are your company’s #1 asset.
- Process – having quality delivery process will result in a better customer experience, customer loyalty, referrals and return sales
- Physical evidence – help your customers “see” what they are buying. Even if you have a digital product or service you can share a professionally designed website, plus past customer experience and social proof as evidence that your product or service is reliable and can deliver a positive outcome.
The value your product provides your customers it waiting to be unleashed. Don’t hold back, those people need you. If you believe in your product you won’t be able to resist talking about it.
When someone asks why they should buy your product you better be ready. Stammering into a sales pitch is unflattering. Again, if you believe in your product this will come naturally.
A clear and structured sales process helps in this regard. Getting people hyped up and then presenting them with an unclear or flimsy sales system will almost surely lose a lot of good business. Just look at Amazon’s “buy with one click”. What could be easier?
If your sales process is confusing, fix it. You’re losing money.
- A Non-Performing Team
One of the hardest business diseases to cure. Especially if you’re a nice guy and don’t like firing people. Don’t fire anyone yet!
There is a better way.
Most people value some form of success. It’s up to you to make sure you hire those who value the same success you do. You need an inspired team who want to work together as a collective. You want a team who can perform as a unit and bring the business consistent results.
Growth is an amazing way to do this. Start growing your employees and you’ll soon find which are worth keeping and which aren’t.
Walk up to an employee and talk some stats with him. You’ll soon find out whether he’s in it for a salary, or if he believes in your business.
It’s difficult to find these people. Most people are selfish. They don’t care about other’s success, only their own. But it is important that you find the right people. Those who believe that their success is tied to that of the company. Or those that wish success for others.
Get the right skills on board. Don’t let the good ones go cheaply. Outsource what isn’t necessary to keep in-house.
Invest time. Invest effort. Invest money. Soon you’ll have a team that can handle anything and everything, and ensure success for your business.
Look carefully at these mistakes. If you’re making any of them, correct them for the good of your business.
If you haven’t started yet, learn from them.
Once fixed you will find you have control of your time, finances and life.
If you would like to join a community of like-minded ex-corporates and career people helping each other to build their own businesses, live a life they love, and give back to their community then check us out here.