Mistakes are inevitable in life and business. Of course, there is a difference between making mistakes because you have not done any preparation and making missteps as you learn the ropes. The reality is that no amount of prep work completely safeguards against errors. That said, here are common business mistakes you might be able to learn from.
Failing to Focus Enough on Keeping Customers
Customers are expensive to acquire. If or when you lose a customer, the costs are not minimal. They’re direct and indirect, including loss of revenue, loss of potential future account growth, new-customer acquisition costs, and the social costs of bad reviews.
Technology is a great asset in customer acquisition and retention. IT glue is a tool that your IT support team can use for for customer retention. It allows for your company to store critical information about your customers and, with the proper analysis, allows your company to provide the best services possible.
Tech helps you set expectations and deliver on them, keep important customer information up to date, follow the best processes for making updates and changes, and assign the right people to deal with customer matters. If you find you’re having problems with acquiring and/or keeping customers, it could be time to start using a program or switch the one you are using to a different one.
Not Understanding Your Target Customers
A business that always struggles to get and maintain customers may also have a problem understanding its target market. It’s easy to assume X is a problem for Z group of people because it seems obvious. Why validate it with experiments and waste time and money?
However, making sure you understand your customers’ pain points and can give them the appropriate products and services is an ongoing process. It requires curiosity, open-mindedness, and constant communication.
Forgetting to Secure Intellectual Property
Many businesses have patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and other forms of intellectual property. The rights vary geographically, and it’s up to your business to secure and protect these rights. If you do nothing, competitors could end up with the fruits of your labor, and it could be completely legal.
Speaking of rivals, there’s not much value in alienating them. Some businesses do not understand this and think that competition means having to stomp out everyone else at any cost.
It rarely (if ever) makes good business sense to go out of your way to talk bad about competitors and scare customers away from them. It makes your business look untrustworthy, unethical, and like a bad sport.
You also don’t want to pit employees against one another, turning them into their own competitors. You can have contests and games, but design them so that they are productive and friendly. Resentful employees are bad for morale and profits.
Some business owners and entrepreneurs jump at every chance to claim successes, even ones they played no part in. At the same time, they ignore mistakes, pass the buck, or refuse to admit errors.
It is not a good look to your employees, clients, and others if your business cannot be humble and insightful. Acknowledging mistakes means you accept responsibility and are open to continual learning.
Do not lie to employees and customers, either. Prioritize open communication and lead by example.
Not Prioritizing the Work Environment
It’s a big “oops” if you slap together office equipment and don’t pay attention to what’s around the equipment and your workers. Or even worse, if you think it does not matter. Natural light, ergonomic furniture, and colorful decor can boost your bottom line considerably more than a dim, windowless office in a noisy building does.
Spend a little more money to make the environment employee-friendly. It is money well spent in the big picture even if it means a bit more upfront expense.
Spreading Yourself and Others Too Thin
Businesses, whether new or established, typically have lean budgets. There may not be a lot of money to go around, but that is not a reason to spread yourself and the staff thin. Overworked people are more prone to tiredness, forgetfulness, frustration, and burnout. Do your best to find space for a part-timer or two, or hire virtual assistants.
Eliminate the time you and others spend on menial tasks such as always fiddling with the logo or spending hours trying to get one sentence right. Hire others to do professional work that you do not have the background for.
Not Having Organizational Values
Many people start businesses to make money. They want to feed themselves and their families and pay the rent. They don’t pay attention to values such as integrity or excellent customer service because…well, they’re simply focused on getting the business up and running.
Organizational values are critical, though. They act as an anchor to build the business around. They illuminate the pathway as to the sorts of employees you hire, the contractors and vendors you work with, your work policies, company culture, and much more.
Running a business is not for the faint of heart. It involves a mix of professional knowledge, business acumen, and street savvy. Even then, it’s easy to go awry. Remember to focus on customer retention, understanding your target customers, protecting your intellectual property, and other essentials.