Any seasoned business owner would be quite aware of the fact that nobody’s perfect, themselves included. They have undoubtedly made countless errors and learnt many a lesson from them, most of which the majority of us will thankfully never have to encounter. Still, the unlucky few of us who are just starting out on our business journey’s lack the necessary experience to be able to predict what hindrances may lie ahead – let alone how to learn from them. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the 3 most commonly made business mistakes and how best to learn from them below.
- Equating early success with invincibility
It’s almost too easy to get wrapped up in the early success of your company. The sense of relief you feel seeing your hard work payoff is virtually euphoric. The knowledge that your business has managed to overcome all the possible setbacks and fates of failed businesses before it is nothing short of the ultimate dream come true for any business owner. However, within this giddy excitement often hides a much more persuasive notion – invincibility.
Early success is not equal to invincibility. In fact, it’s often far from it. Don’t permit yourself to think that because your company has succeeded so early on, that you are destined for greatness. Moreover, don’t start to think that its success means that your company is in possession of a winning formula that now needs to remain untouched. You simply cannot allow your desire to see your company succeed, override everything you know about running a business.
It is only very rarely that statements akin to those above will ring true, and so thoughts such as these are almost guaranteed to lead to enormously damaging outcomes. For instance, in accepting that your company is ‘destined for greatness’ you are immediately more likely to become comfortable and lax with the methods you choose to keep promoting and sustaining the business. Allowing advertising, hiring the right employees, defining a mission, planting roots in the community etc. to be compromised due to supposed certain success is a huge mistake. Likewise, thinking that your company is in possession of a winning formula allows you to shun accountability and maintenance of all-important checks and balances that would normally keep company’s running smoothly.
Your company is not invincible, and never will be. No matter how successful your company becomes, your priority should always be to maintain control and review of its fundamental components i.e. financials, marketing, mission, culture, systems. Neglecting these components accidentally is a problem. Neglecting them on purpose however, due to early success, is inexcusable. At the end of the day you must remember you are running a business, and a true business owner knows businesses are anything but infallible.
- Not prioritising your brand and/or image
In the social media age, there seem to be two prevailing trends when it comes to business owner’s thoughts on maintaining image. The first view is that their business doesn’t stand a chance in such an oversaturated market – and so they don’t put emphasis on their branding and image. The second tends to think that because the market is so diverse, everyone has a voice and it allows for the work to be done for you – and so they don’t put emphasis on their branding and image.
Both of these statements are arguably true, however the issue lies with the fact that they both relate back to the notion that it is not important to prioritise how a company is perceived. The good news is, social media and a lot of marketing in general is just about presence. It’s not even about a revolutionarily unique presence. It is merely about a presence that is unique to your company and your vision. Your brand doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, but it has to be well thought-out, consistent, and well maintained. Your image doesn’t have to be bullet proof, but it has to be understood, relevant and personified. For certain company’s in particular, these concepts should be at the forefront of any goal being worked towards.
Maintaining your brand should be a thought that crosses your mind often. If it’s not on your radar, you are far more likely to engage in behaviour that is harmful to your company’s future, i.e. burning bridges. Engaging in heated conversation, liking controversial posts on social media, expressing unpopular opinions – these are all things that could seriously hinder your company’s success due to a tarnished reputation. Such actions contribute to an overall brand image, one which could easily clash with allied companies and competitors alike. You are sabotaging your company if you are not engaged in maintaining and cultivating how your company is being viewed.
Reach who you need to reach without sacrificing important business relationships. At the same time, define core values that your company choose to abide by and ensure they are well represented and articulated if and when you choose to share them. Cultivate a brand and image in which you prioritise investing time and energy into maintaining. Remember that each and every interaction, whether it be at a networking event or in a company newsletter, is a representation of your brand, and is contributing to your business’ image, and use it as an opportunity to develop these ideas further.
- Being too concerned with pace
If you have ever owned a business, you know how quickly you can become in over your head. It can be hard to gage when it’s time for a shakeup, and if your attempting to run a company on your own you can easily lose touch with the outside world. Whether it be new trends, technology, operating systems etc. being too slow to adapt is said to be the death of a company. Although, what about the number of companies who have failed due to their pre-emptive adaptation? Companies that capitalised on growth that was yet to occur, or got too caught up in trying to always be 1 step ahead of the competition that they lost sight of their company’s true purpose?
As a business owner, especially if you are just starting out, you are constantly being torn between wanting complete control, and needing to trust those around you. In juggling these factors, we often forget to remain sceptical of others motivations, as well as our own. The pace in which we operate our company should be dictated by our company and nothing else.
Becoming so wrapped up in the speed that your company is progressing that you fail to focus on maintaining actual methods of sustainability. As previously mentioned, it’s important not to jump the gun at the first sign of success, and this notion still remains true in this case. Don’t try and catapult your business ahead where it might not be ready. In particular, don’t feel pressured to change the pace that you are operating due to blind trust in those around you, or even yourself.
Remain sceptical enough so that you are contemplating the risks as well as the benefits of a change in the pace at which you are operating. Ensure that you are always planning for the future and taking calculated risks, and your company will develop its own pace that is functional and suited to the needs and operating ability of your business.