There are about 28.8 million small businesses in the United States, each of them with their own unique challenges and objectives. And while with most things in life a mistake here or there isn’t a major travesty, a mistake in running your small business — even a tiny one — can mean the end. Only 20 percent of businesses fail within their first year, and by the end of their fifth year, 50 percent of all businesses fail. If you want to beat the odds, you need to be incredibly careful with how you run your operations, especially when it comes to avoiding common small business mistakes.
Don’t let limited resources stand in the way of long-term success. Here are four of the deadliest small business mistakes and why it’s crucial to stay clear of them.
1. Not Having a Marketing Team
A marketing team can seem like a luxury for a small business, but in reality, it’s a necessity. One of the biggest marketing challenges is getting new clients, which directly relates to generating new revenue for your company. Marketing teams — even if they’re just one or two people — help establish your company brand and ensure that you’re both solidifying your message and reaching as many people as possible with it.
All businesses, large or small, need to attract new prospects and turn those prospects into customers. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, who you’re trying to attract, or how big your budget is — if you’re not connecting with the right people, you’re not going to grow.
2. Not Understanding Who Your Target Audience Is
If you don’t know who your target audience is, then how are you going to know how to market your product or service to them in the most effective way possible? Most small businesses have a general idea of who they’re trying to reach but lack the concrete customer personas that help guide marketing strategies and maximize the potential of limited marketing budgets.
It’s important that you take the time to create audience personas and establish the kind of person you want to sell to — including not solely who they are but what their pain points, needs, and lifestyles are. Delve as deep as you can, creating personas for various customers based on job titles, industries, who their decision-makers are, what problems they experience, and so on. The more you can pin down who your buyers are, the better you can sell to them.
3. Not Focusing on Your Employees’ Needs
Happy employees are 12 percent more productive than their unsatisfied counterparts. And it makes sense. In today’s professional landscape, information on everything from health and personal benefits to the variety of breakroom snacks are shared far and wide. Current and prospective employees are going to know if they’re getting the best deal or not. That doesn’t mean that you have to start hosting expensive company retreats or offering unlimited PTO. Still, it does mean that you have to work within your own capabilities to provide employees the best company culture that you can.
If you want high-quality candidates applying for your open positions — and if you want to avoid employee turnover — account for your employees’ needs and the culture you’re trying to build. This means taking a hard look at the company perks and benefits you offer and making sure they’re up to snuff. If they’re not, you’re going to have a hard time attracting and sustaining top talent.
4. Not Having a Sales Strategy
For all of their differences, all small businesses have one big thing in common: they need to make money. And to do it, there needs to be a sales strategy in place.
An effective sales strategy includes goals and projections based on realistic expectations and pushes your team to increase performance month after month. On top of providing a clear path for your sales staff to follow, it also helps protect against significant downturns, like lost clients or team members. Losses happen — it’s how you recover that counts. With a sales strategy in place, you’ll have a growth plan that accounts for all possible scenarios, including the less than ideal ones.
Don’t let avoidable small business mistakes be the death of your company. While avoiding the mistakes above does require that you stretch your resources a bit, it’s all in the name of long-term success — and isn’t that why you started your business in the first place? Work with what you have, expanding as your resources allow. If that means taking on the role of marketing and sales manager yourself until you can hire additional employees or finding room in the budget for special perks for those you already have on staff, then it’s worth it for the potential it affords you. Trust us, your team — and your bottom line — will be much better off for it.
Are you ready for a smarter way to engage with your customers?
Benchmark helps you do email marketing the practical way. Create an ongoing relationship with your subscribers that leads to increased sales and happier customers.