For many small business, especially others like me who are solo business owners we start with the idea of opening our own business because we want the freedom and flexibility to live our lives our own way. We don’t want to have to report to anyone else and we want to be able to make decisions that are right for us, not what someone else says.

I’ve beaten the odds and I’m into 8th year being in business for myself, that’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges along the way. So here are a few of the things that I’ve done that made it harder for me to get where I am now, but maybe they’ll help you?

Not Having a Plan

1-no-plan-SLIDEOne of the most common reasons that a new business will fail is that the owner doesn’t have a plan for beginning and operating the business. Having a plan might mean a formal business plan, but it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to have every detail planned out, but you do have to know what your products or services will be, how you’ll find customers, and how you’ll market to those customers. In addition, you’ll need to be flexible and responsive; if something from the plan isn’t working, you’ll need to be able to identify why, and correct it going forward. Since 2012, I’ve been using Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Amazing Year – Biz Edition and each year my business has grown and seen larger profits. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but having a plan in place has made it easier for me to keep on track.

Not Having Measurable Goals

The plan you create will certainly have goals for your business. Your goals might be that the business provides you with a certain level of income within a year after beginning, or that you reach a certain number of customers in the first six months of operations. Having goals enables you to come up with a detailed roadmap toward achieving them. Business owners without measurable goals don’t know if their decisions are actually helping the business succeed, because they’ve set no standards for success. I use to think I need to measure EVERYTHING to know what was happening, but you don’t.

2-measure-goals

Right now I measure two things, my income and my email list growth. The rest of it while I do track, I’m not as concerned about the numbers. The two key metrics for me are how much money I’m bringing in and how many new folks I’m adding to my list each week, I do this on a weekly basis because what we focus on expands. It takes me minutes each week to update my spreadsheet and I’ve created graphs so I can at a glance see my growth.

Inadequate Recordkeeping

Many businesses will fail because of inadequate recordkeeping. This refers not just to the business’ finances, but all records relating to domain registrations and website hosting, contracts and agreements with web developers, freelancers and anyone else the business deals with. Inadequate recordkeeping can result in improperly filed tax returns, disputes with contractors and customers, and a huge loss of time trying to figure out how things should have been done. New business owners can avoid these problems by setting up proper recordkeeping systems from the outset, and getting outside help whenever necessary.

Oy! How true this is, you get tied up in your everyday stuff that take the time to actually write down and track what you have never happens and I’ll admit this is one area where I’ve always struggled, this year though I’m getting better! I’m using Evernote (and Google Drive) to track all of my records and files.

I have an Operations notebook in Evernote that I add all of my records too, along with one main note in the Operations notebook that has links to all of the key records. If this is something that’s neglecting in your business, don’t wait any longer start tracking it all, it doesn’t have to be difficult you can have 1 Spreadsheet that keeps ALL of your information, make it easy for you to do and you’ll actually do it!

Not Charging Enough

4-fundingMany new businesses are so intent on bringing in new customers and building a name for themselves that they’re practically willing to give their products away. While this approach may yield small immediate gains, it can damage a business in the long term. Once a customer gets something at a greatly reduced price it can be very difficult to get them to pay for it later. Either to give something away for free or charge full price, but avoid significant discounts. If you choose to give something away, make sure to get an email list sign-up or something else of value from the customer (even if it’s just a “like” on Facebook) in order to establish in the customer’s mind that your product or service is not “free.”

I’m including this one, as it something I see my coaching clients doing, but so often it back fires. Setting boundaries for both how you work and what you charge is crucial for any business.

Neglecting Customers

Good customer service is absolutely essential, and a new business that treats its customers poorly is going to face challenges to survive. But that first transaction with a new customer isn’t the end of the sales process – it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship. By following up with customers after a transaction to make sure they’re still satisfied, sending them preferential offers for new products you may have in the future, and engaging them in online conversations (on sites such as Facebook and Twitter) you’ll be much more likely to count on their business in the future.

Right from the start creating a process to manage how you bring customers in and how you manage them once they’ve hired you is important

Neglecting Personal Health and Well-Being

8-stressRunning a new business is tough. The physical and mental stress of trying to make a new business succeed can take its toll on the business owner, and taking sick days simply isn’t an option.

Owners who neglect their own health and well-being by rationalizing that those sacrifices will be good for the business are putting themselves (and their businesses) at risk. You need to keep yourself healthy and fit in order for your new business to succeed.

Not Recognizing Gaps in Knowledge or Expertise

Your current level of inexperience won’t always doom your business, but you’re almost certain to fail if you don’t get help to overcome that inexperience, and to become an expert in your chosen field as quickly as possible.

Until you’ve reached that point, remember that help is available. A coach, virtual assistant, or a freelance writer or web developer, can be indispensable.

10-passionNot Having Passion for the Business

Even if you overcome all of the above, it’s virtually impossible to succeed without passion for the business. If you’re simply looking for a new source of income, but don’t genuinely care about the product or service they’re selling, or who are indifferent to the needs of their customers, probably won’t be in business for very long.

Taking an honest look at your new business might be difficult, but it can be a worthwhile exercise if it helps you avoid the problems discussed above.


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