Avoiding the Most Common Errors of New Small Business Owners

The most common errors made by people when they are just starting out revolve around three central themes: preparation/research, time/money and customer relations.

Common Errors In Preparation/Research:

A. Going into business for the wrong reason(s): So many people go into business for themselves based on misconceptions and myths. Before you go into business for yourself you should look into the top myths of home businesses to try and avoid the common traps.

B. Not knowing enough about the business that they are going into: it is important to know about the business you are attempting to start. You should know: what qualifications/legal considerations could affect you, is there a market for your business, who is your competition, how much money can you expect to make from this business, how much money do you need to start the business, etc…

Common Errors In Time/Money:

C. Spending too money: The inclination for some new business owners is to throw money at a new business – to buy all the toys and tools they can get their hands on. This can quickly lead to a cash crunch, which in turn can lead to the failure of your business. There are many great products and services out there to help you with your small business – but it is important to manage your spending – especially during the start-up phase.

D. Spending too little money: Like many things in life – opening a business often requires some investment. The person who sets up a company and then never spends the money to promote and market it – will probably fail. The hard part is figuring out what things are important to start and grow your business and when you have reached the stage in your business when you should be spending money on the important things.

E. Bad cash budgeting: Without proper cash budgeting many small businesses not only fail but lead to personal cash flow problems and bankruptcy for the owners. Before starting a business you should perform a cash budget, which you should update periodically.

F. Errors in setting your product prices and consulting rates: If you set your rates/prices too low then you will not be able to afford to stay in business. If you set your rates/prices too high then you will not be able to get any business. Therefore it is important to do your research and set your rates and prices accordingly.

G. Not optimizing your business processes through continuous improvement: Nobody starts out in business doing things perfectly – the best way to be successful is to make sure that you not only devote time to working on your products or services but also invest the time to improve your business processes – whether it is finding a better way to find clients or a cheaper way to deliver your products or services – it is so important to always be looking for ways to do things better.

H. Working too much and burning out: Many new business owners think that you need to work around the clock in order to make your business work. The smart business owner knows that ideally your business should be making you money 24-hours a day BUT you should not have to work 24-hours a day to accomplish this.

I. Not investing enough time in your business: generally starting a business requires a lot of time and effort. Neglecting to give your new business the time it requires to build it into a legitimate business and maintain it – will quickly lead your business to enter a downward spiral.

Common Errors In Customer Relations:

J. Saying ‘yes’ to every client: some clients are just not worth the trouble, some jobs are not worth the time and some contracts are not worth the cost of the paper that they are written on. It is important to properly vet your customers before entering into a relationship with them. One bad debt or shady client could lead to the downfall of everything you’ve worked for.

K. Turning down too many jobs: While it is inadvisable to take every client and contract that comes your way – you need to balance this caution and selectiveness with a healthy understanding of which clients and contracts you need to take in order to stay afloat and grow your business. For me this has led me to develop two separate lists – the list of things I want from clients/contracts and the things I need from clients/contracts. This means that I will work for clients/accept contracts that do not have all the things I want (for example maybe it involves working long hours temporarily or traveling extensively) but I don’t take contracts that do not give me everything I need (for example if I have doubts about the integrity of the client then I will NOT take the job).

L. Trying too hard to look like a big business: This is an error on two fronts. For one thing many people go into business for themselves in order to escape the confines of the corporate world – working too hard to show yourself as a professional can put you right back where you started. The second way that this can hurt you is that it takes away the ability for you to connect with your clients honestly and openly. If you are projecting this persona then you never connect to your clients on a personal level – even worse when they find out that you are a “one-man show” they can feel misled and deceived.

M. Appearing too unprofessional: The flip side of the last point is that you cannot behave too unprofessionally. Most clients want to know you as a person but some topics should always be out of bounds. Further it is important to show your clients that you take your job seriously – things like having business cards, answering your phones professionally and delivering things on time and on budget are very important.

N. Not creating a business that adds values to your customers: if your services or products do not make your clients’ life better then they will not pay for it. Your business must be focused on adding value to your clients’ personal or professional affairs.

O. Bad customer services and after sales support: many small business owners complete a job and never look back – but great customer service and after sales support means return customers and great word-of-mouth – these are the most valuable forms of advertising out there. A flyer delivered to 1,000 may deliver a few clients who are curious about your business but someone who has dealt with you before or had you recommended to them is “pre-sold” – they already trust you and want to work with you.

The final issue to consider and one of the most common errors made by small business owners effects all three of the categories listed above.

P. Not doing things your way: people frequently get into business in order to “do things their way” and make their own decisions but quickly drop this attitude when confronted with the challenges of working for themselves. It is important to stay true to your own vision, your objectivism your values and follow your “gut” and intuition. This may be hard in the interim but it is critical to establishing a business that works for you.

Small Business Coach Training – Becoming a Small Business Coach

Do you have a passion for small businesses? Perhaps you are a successful small business owner with a desire to encourage others who are starting out. Small businesses start up and die every day. The entrepreneurs who start them are usually very passionate about the product or service they are providing, but could not care less about the nuts and bolts of running the business. This is one of the reasons that so many of them fail. They simply are not profitable enough to keep going. Business coaches build relationships with business leaders and work with them to get the companies on the path to success. They help them identify weak spots, motivate employees, and plan for the future. If this sounds like a career you would like to embark upon, small business coach training might be the right option for you.

Training courses for small business coaches are lead by instructors who have experience in small business and in coaching in the business industry. They have encountered the situations that you will go through and can give real world advice and warnings. In addition, the courses extend the knowledge and skills necessary to becoming an excellent business coach. The curriculum covers best practices in the field. It should also introduce students to the methods, models, formulas, and processes that are successful in the business world. It should teach students how to lead their clients through business planning, including a mission statement, goals, action steps, and more.

Great small business training courses for coaches also teach interpersonal leadership skills. The ability to lead and communicate with a client who is used to leading themselves is a unique one. This skill must be taught and learned during preparation for a career as a business coach. The leadership skill goes hand in hand with the ability to communicate. Articulating the best course of action without offense to the client is tricky sometimes. Coaches in business want to motivate their clients to change while encouraging them. Training in communication and leadership skills is essential for a good coach. 

A coach is useless without any clients. Effective small business coach training classes teach a system for acquiring and keeping clients. They teach how to hook the client at first contact. Traditional marketing is not always effective in the coaching business. Students in these training courses learn how to target and design marketing that works. Starting a business as a small business coach can be the beginning of a fulfilling and lucrative career with the right foundation of training.

Website For Small Business – Do You Know the Top Pros and Cons of Having a Website For Your Business

As with most things, having a website for your small business has some pros and some cons. If you are sitting on the fence about building a website for your small business you might want to consider both sides.

These are a few objections I hear from my prospective customers when I talk to them about getting a website for their business and getting into web marketing.

I get most of my business from word of mouth and offline advertising, I don’t need to spend money on a website. This statement is true for a lot of small business owners and solopreneurs but unless you don’t want to increase your business at all or actually you are planning to decrease your business you need to have a website. Why? Because having a website will not only bring you qualified leads but it gives your business validity, as one of my customers said: “I have enough business but I want to be with the times…” showing that he is not adverse to change and progress and listens to his customers needs. I am sure you’ve been asked by now if your business has a website.

I like to have one on one “real time” talk and interaction with my prospective customers, talking on the phone or in person. I don’t like this new internet way of dealing with business.And here is the answer to this concern. Just because your business has a website it doesn’t mean that you are not going to have that personal touch and interaction with your prospective customers. Once you get in touch with them it is up to you how you continue to communicate. Your small business website if just another vehicle of advertising and let’s face it most people these days don’t bother to flip through the Yellow Pages anymore.

Building a website for my small business is way too expensive and even if I have one who is going to maintain it? Yes, there are very expensive web designers out there but if you do your homework you’ll find that having a website built for your small business is not nearly as expensive as you might think, as a matter of fact if you compare it to other ways of advertising and what you get out of it, it’s darn cheap. Also, if you are so inclined, you or maybe somebody on your staff can actually experiment and build your own basic website for free. There are many handy site building tools out there that you can use. The number one thing is to have a website built. After you have a website you will easily find ways to promote it. One of the first rules of promoting your website is to use your web address on all your offline advertising. As for maintaining it you can either do it yourself or hire the company who built it for you. They must have different options for different budgets to chose from.

The bottom line is that there are always cons and pros to any business decision. Allow your mind to go past your fears and seriously consider getting a website built for your small business. Afterall what do you have to lose other then some good leads and more profits?

Small Business Marketing Strategy – Website Structure

Getting Rid Of The Brochure Mentality: Many business owners and entrepreneurs build a website without understanding the fundamental reasons for doing so. As such, they create what I call a ‘brochure’ website. You may have done this already.

Well don’t be upset, it’s a pretty natural thing to do. For some reason we decide to follow the lead of the majority, thinking if everybody is doing it, it must be the right thing to do… WRONG!

So, going against all conventional wisdom, why do we put up a website? What is the best way to use it?

The Fundamental Reason for Being

Why do you need or want a website? The answer is LEAD GENERATION. Lead generation will lead to small business sales! How is your web site structure important when it comes to lead generation and marketing for small business?

Landing Pages

Well, in order to generate leads you will need to make offers. Offers need to be tweakable. Therefore, you need to be able to update your content easily and quickly. More importantly though you must have a specific page for your offer. These pages are called ‘Landing Pages’.

Let me explain…

Lets say you have a website where you are selling weight loss products. One of your supply companies is running a marketing campaign and you think you can make more sales while the campaign is running. Would you send your visitor to the home page of your website, hoping that they find the specific information about the sales campaign? That’s not going to going to be a very effective marketing campaign!

Or would you send them directly to the promotion?

You’d send them directly to it and make the offer very clear, being very specific about that offer and nothing else.

No matter what you do online, you must be able to make clear offers to visitors in order to generate leads and sales for your small business. You do that by sending them to specific pages, which we call landing pages.

Hopefully, you will be able to edit these quickly and easily, so you can tweak your offers and get the best response possible.

Search Engines Want Content

They love to suck it up! The more content you have the better! There’s a saying ‘Content is King!’. Its true.

The more pages you have the better. The more often you add and update content the better.

Did you know that the way your pages are linked together is very important? Your internal page linking strategy is as important as your external links strategy. I can hear you thinking ‘strategy, shhhhhmategy! this is getting technical, I don’t want to know about this’. That’s fair enough, it is technical. And while you can put a website up and link it together any way you please, if you want a good search engine ranking, it pays to have your site built by a professional who knows about this stuff.

By the way, what you call your pages and the physical directory or folder structure of your website is petty important too! So if you’ve got a site that has pages named page1.html, page5.html etc, you should start thinking about keywords for your page names! That’s an important strategy too.

Your small business marketing strategy must start by getting rid of the brochure mentality. You must start thinking lead generation. Everything starts with lead generation!