Avoid These Five Small Business Errors at all Costs 

By Randall Orser | Small Business

As an entrepreneur, you are simultaneously your own greatest asset and your greatest enemy. Your successes will take the start-up to new heights. Your mistakes, on the other hand, can take it down. When an employee makes a mistake, it’s often rectifiable. A misplaced shipment is easy to handle. Mismanagement from the boss, on the other hand, is a problem that can’t easily be fixed.
Knowing what to not do is as important as knowing what to do. A single mistake can undo numerous good decisions. Here are a few things you should avoid.

1. Mistaking Leadership for Dictatorship

As the entrepreneur, you’re expected to lead. No one sees the product and its future the way you do. You were the one who found a need and figured out how to fill it. Who else can lead? The problem many entrepreneurs face is not a fear of leading, but mistaking it for dictatorship. Instead of looking to inspire their employees, they dominate them, barking out orders and expecting complete compliance.
While your employees are supposed to help you achieve the start-up’s goals, they’re not slaves. They’re there for their own reasons. Some of them are there because they need a paycheck and you saw potential in them. Others are there because they see potential in you and in the start-up. Whatever the reason, you must remember that your employees are people as well.

2. Focusing on Money Instead of Freedom

Your foremost goal for the start-up is to turn a profit. However, your end goal isn’t money. Money is a tool, a stepping stone towards other things. What you want is what money brings: freedom.
It’s easy to think that money’s synonymous with freedom, especially when things are tight. When you don’t have money, it’s easy to think that financial freedom leads to actual freedom. This can lead to a number of bad decisions, such as giving up time with family to work on the start-up. Money is a tool or even a byproduct of your efforts, not the goal.
Focus on business grow. Make better products and you’ll get money. Cut corners in an attempt to raise money quickly and your company will eventually suffer.

3. Believing That The Customer is Always Right

The customer is important. As an entrepreneur, everything you do must revolve around them. Product development must be done with the end user in mind. Your marketing campaign must attract your target demographic or you risk getting the wrong people. They’re important and integral to your success . However, that doesn’t mean they’re always right.
Acting as if the customer is always right confuses your branding and message, and can result in hyper focused development revolving around a very vocal minority. Instead of thinking the customer should determine how the office runs, think about honoring them. You’re there to serve them, but they don’t always know better.

4. Failing to Define Success

Many entrepreneurs end up failing simply because they don’t know what they want. They have a great idea, a receptive market, and a good business plan, but they don’t have clear goals. The company is successful in a technical sense. It didn’t collapse and it exists, but the lack of an overarching goal gives it little direction. It’s hamstrung.
Figuring out what success looks like and what it means to you. Boil it down to something tangible, something you can recognize. If you can, look for measurable metrics, such as a rating or a number of yearly sales. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s success according to your definition and not because it’s what other successful businessmen said it was.

5. Not Communicating Well

The thing with communication is you can feel entirely confident and sure that you’re getting the right idea across and still end up confusing everyone in the room. Effective communication is more difficult than it sounds. It’s more than being passionate — it’s about leading people down the same thought process as you so they either arrive at the same conclusion or they have a picture in their heads identical to the one in yours.
When communicating, it’s best to use facts, something that isn’t reliant on your perception of things. By using a common frame of reference, you can minimize misunderstandings. Everyone understands that the ruler is 12 inches long, but they might have a different idea of what a “large stick” means.
Succeeding as an entrepreneur is more than avoiding mistakes. However, avoiding these mistakes will allow you and your start-up to build up the necessary momentum to survive those turbulent early months and years. Keep an eye out for these and you should do fine.


About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.