Henry Ford said, “The only mistake is the one we don’t learn from.” It’s something he knew about first hand. Ford went broke five times before founding his famous car company. Learning from your mistakes can be an important part of growing your business. But learning from mistakes others make is even better. Small business owners can stay ahead of the learning curve in 2016 by avoiding these common mistakes.
Thinking you’re a one-person business
You might be in business for yourself but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. There are a number of resources available to help you take advantage of opportunities or to solve challenges. But you have to ask for it. For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has a number of programs, many are offered at little or no cost. Consult this map on their website to find help near you.
t’s difficult to compete solely on the basis of price, especially when your competition has more bargaining power with suppliers. You might be able to gain a temporary advantage but it may not be sustainable. In fact, the lower price may become the new normal in the market. Carefully consider the competitive landscape and your break-even point before drastically cutting prices. Look for non-price alternatives instead, like superior service.
Not having a marketing map
How will you know you’ve reached your destination if you don’t have a map? That’s the idea behind a marketing plan. It identifies where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and how you’ll know when you’ve arrived. Start by knowing your target audience and what you have to offer. Then identify the most cost effective way to tell them about it. Often, it’s a combination of tactics including email, social and sales promotion. The SBA offers help in developing a marketing plan.
Working on your short game
It’s tempting to make decisions that result in short-term gains. After all, you have a lot riding on your investment. But focus on long-term goals instead. For example, you might realize a savings from a volume purchase of merchandise. But if it takes you a long period of time to turn it over into sales revenue, you may not be “saving” as much as you thought. Focus on sustainable growth. Then use your short game to help you identify the intermediate steps to get you there.
You’re going to make mistakes when running a business. So the key is learning from them. But you can do even one better—learn from others’ mistakes. Stay ahead of the learning curve in 2016 by avoiding these common mistakes.