17 Small Business Mistakes You Need to Avoid

You’re likely reading this page because you run a small business. Perhaps you’ve launched it relatively recently, or you’ve been selling your products and services for a few years now. In any case, you’ve got a fair idea of how to run a business.

But, are you aware that some entrepreneurs running small businesses make mistakes that will inevitably impact the direction and growth of their firms? Let’s face it: the last thing you want to do is compromise the potential of your small business.

No matter the type of small business or entrepreneurship you may operate, reviewing the insights below is wise. I confess that I was guilty of most of the issues you will read about. Thankfully, recognizing the merits of collaborating instead of working singularly came to my rescue, and I was able to turn much of my oversights around.  

Hopefully, you will find the listing of small mistakes you need to avoid helpful. The intent is that you enjoy a thriving business for as long as you desire.  With that in mind, it’s worth checking and ensuring that you’re not making the following common small business mistakes:

1. Having No Business Plan

As you’ll surely appreciate, starting a business and keeping it operational involves a lot of planning and preparation. One of the things that all businesses should have is a business plan.

Why? The answer is simple: business plans ensure that companies are heading in the right direction regarding future growth and sales potential. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s never too late to create one.

2. Doing Little to No Marketing

Whether you read the ultimate guide to starting a business or have attended some seminars that describe how to start a new enterprise, one thing you’ll notice is how marketing is a core part of any business operations.

How will your customers know about your brand and its products and services? You can’t expect your target audience to magically know that you exist; that’s your job! With that in mind, you need to have consistent marketing campaigns for your business.

3. Doing Everything Yourself

It’s no secret that handling the various aspects of your business alone will save you much money. At least, that’s what you keep telling yourself. However, the truth is you probably cost your business money if you try to do everything yourself.

That’s because the time you spend doing various things will cost you more money than using professionals and concentrating on growing your business. Stick to doing what you love and leave the experts to handle the things you don’t.

4. Isolating Yourself From Other People

If you’re a sole proprietor, you probably think it’s best to concentrate on your work and growing your business instead of networking with others in your industry. Sadly, isolating yourself from other people in your niche is a bad idea.

Firstly, you won’t quickly learn of new industry developments – including ones that might impact what you do. Secondly, you miss out on opportunities to expand your business. Finally, you’ll forget about the importance of social interaction with other people!

5. Creating Problems to Solve

One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is creating problems to solve! Some firms develop products or services that don’t necessarily solve existing issues experienced by their target audience.

Make sure that your small business isn’t guilty of that because you’re likely to find little to no interest in those products and services. Instead, concentrate on solving problems that your customers are experiencing right now.

6. Doing No Proper Market Research

If someone asked you whether you know your customers and the reasons that would drive them to buy the things you sell, could you answer that question honestly? If the answer is no, the reason is that you’ve done no proper market research.

Market research is key to building a successful business because it shows that you’ve taken the time to understand each customer’s pain points, and you’ve determined how you can help them alleviate or eradicate those issues.

7. Being Unwilling to Adapt to Change

As you will hopefully know by now, market demands and interests can change without notice. The things you do today might be obsolete tomorrow due to other factors beyond your control.

You can’t control everything that shapes the direction of your industry, but what you can control is how your small business responds to any market changes. Be an entrepreneur that changes with the times and adapts to those changes.

8. Little Thought to Branding

It doesn’t matter what a business does, and what matters is how it gets perceived by its target audience. As you’ve probably gathered by now, branding is central to any company’s message to its potential customers.

If your branding makes no sense, isn’t memorable, or is inconsistent across the Internet and offline, you need to review it urgently and take steps to address your branding blues. Otherwise, it will continue to confuse and frustrate.

9. Terrible Customer Service

A business can only exist if it has customers. Your products and services might entice people in your target audience to buy your products. But, have you looked into how you treat your customers before, during, and after each sale?

If your customer service is non-existent, you need to determine why that is the case and prioritize addressing the issue. Doing so will ensure that your customers won’t flock to your competitors!

10. Poor Financial Planning

When you run a business, irrespective of whether it’s a small business or a large corporation, you need to ensure enough capital to remain self-sufficient. Unfortunately, many small businesses are guilty of poor financial planning.

Don’t be another statistic, and make sure there’s enough cash in the bank to operate your business. Make sure you use financial services like invoice factoring to ensure no disruption to your cash flow.

11. Having the Wrong Legal Structure

In most countries worldwide, it’s possible to start a business under one of several legal structure options. As a business grows, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to change to different, more suitable legal structures.

You need to ensure you’ve got the correct legal structure for your small business with that in mind. Don’t assume the one you have now is suitable for your small business needs, both now and in the future.

12. Working With the Wrong Investors

It’s not uncommon for small businesses to commence operations only after securing enough financial investment from other people or groups. The trouble is, some entrepreneurs work with investors whose visions and goals don’t quite align with theirs.

When you require external investment, make sure the people you invite to be a part of your small business sign from the same hymn sheet. 

13. Cutting Deals Purely With Verbal Agreements

One of the worst things you can do when running a small business is to cut deals with other people or entities based purely on verbal agreements. It should come as no surprise that many of such deals end up failing for various reasons.

For example, one person may not keep to their side of the deal and then refuse to honor their promises because no terms and conditions got written on paper.

14. No Strategy

When people go to job interviews, candidates often get asked where they see themselves in five or ten years. It’s a question that gets candidates to talk about their visions and future goals.

If someone asked you the same question but about your business, could you confidently answer it? If the answer is no, you will need to develop a strategy that details how your business will grow and the steps it will take to achieve that objective.

15. Undervaluing Products and Services

Some small businesses have brilliant products and services that perfectly solve their target markets’ experiences each day. Unfortunately, what many of those firms do is undervalue the products and services they sell.

If your small business is guilty of undervaluing what it sells, you need to increase your prices. After all: you’re running a company to make money, not lose it! Do some market research and determine the average cost of similar products and services sold elsewhere.

16. Failing to Keep Up With Demand

When you run a small business, you will need to adjust what you often do. That’s because you have to address changes in the market, including increased demand for the products and services that you offer.

If you can’t keep up with increased demand, your customers will go elsewhere for what they need. Ensure you’ve got the human resources available to tackle higher demands.

17. Disorganized Chaos

Does it often seem chaotic in your business, with people running around doing several things simultaneously? If the answer is yes, your small business is exhibiting a classic case of disorganized chaos.

Now is the time to take reasonable steps to organize your various operational processes. To-do lists are one thing you can enact, but you should also ensure your employees have clearly defined roles at your organization.

Final Thoughts

If you’re guilty of making one or more of the typical small business mistakes on this page, the good news is that it’s never too late to take steps to address them. Many are common sense mistakes, while others might get made purely out of forgetfulness.

Related: Where Is Your Business’ Money Really Going?