Archive for April 13th, 2011

7 Mistakes That Hold Back Your Business

April 13th, 2011

Some small business owners often loose opportunities because of bad habits and by not recognizing that certain things must be in place before they start marketing their products and services. These issues speak directly to the trust and credibility of a business.

Here are seven common mistakes that will hold back your business:

1. Poor Social Skills, Social Intelligence and Awareness
This is the mistake that small business owners make the most.  Having proper social skills and being in tune with your surroundings will take you a long way in business. Here are several examples: 

  • Do you have a tendency to talk too much at networking events, or worse, share too much personal information? No one except the banquet manager cares about how hard it was to find a parking space. Keep your networking chat smart.
  • Are you dressed like someone that has an executive presence, or like you should be serving the refreshments at the event? Everyone should have signature colors and at least three killer outfits. Men, the tie color and the shoes are very important.
  • Do you have a strong elevator pitch or do people need to ask you questions to help you define what you do? Great elevator pitches hit on three key things: explain the type of business, explain the target customer and close with a question.
  • Do you appropriately follow-up new leads and contacts?  Be smart with follow-up. You can send an email, personal note and make a phone call within three weeks of meeting a contact, unless instructed otherwise. Calling every week will not bring opportunity to your business.

2. Your Business Needs a Professional Website
It’s surprising how many business owners do not have a website. Many prospective customers or clients, and even your vendors, will perform an Internet search before they call you. If they can’t find you online, then you are missing out on opportunities. Putting together a business website is not difficult, and there are plenty of people and organizations that can help you inexpensively gain an Internet presence.  Have an idea of what you want first. If you plan on incorporating a blog, I suggest you start writing blog posts a few weeks or even months prior to the launch of your website, so that you do not get backed-up trying to develop content while running your busy company.

3. Your Email Address Needs to be Branded With Your Company Name
I have a Gmail account too, but that’s not the one I use for customer contact. Your emails should come from a branded account that promotes your business. You need to be branding your business, not Hotmail or Yahoo. You need to take every opportunity to establish credibility. Your email address should be something like myname@mybusinessname.com. Having a free email address says you couldn’t be bothered to spend the money on your own business to get a domain name, so why should customers spend money on you?

And about those business cards, I can’t believe how many I see that don’t include an email address. It is most likely that a new prospect will first try to contact you through email, so don’t give them the impression that you consider their emails to you to be spam. Be open to all means of contact; phone, email and snail mail.

4. Not Investing in Your Brand
Yes, all of you out there using business cards that you can get for free online are really hurting your business brand.  Invest in a professional logo and a two-color business card. Do not hand out business cards that have it printed on the back that they were free.  That tells a prospective customer that you are not serious about your business.

5. Have a Real Phone Number for Your Business
Your small business should have a dedicated phone line with voicemail.  Do not use your cell phone as your main business line.  You’ll never to do business with a major corporation with that as your brand image.  Also, please do not use those answering machines that come with the phone. No matter what you do, the message will never sound professional.

6. Poor Record Keeping
Some business people are not born administrators; they feel more comfortable getting out there and doing business. Paperwork is too easy to ignore but can never be put off indefinitely. Sales, purchases and other expenditures must be carefully documented so you know whether you are making a profit or not. Invoices must be issued on time and followed up on promptly if there is a delay in payment. Closing sales is good, but poor record keeping can hold you back. Having your paperwork in order will also save you time when it comes to your tax preparer doing your returns.

7. Trying To Do Everything
Finally, a problem most small business owners have is the fact that everything falls on their plate. Inevitably this is how it’s likely to be in the beginning, when a limited budget means that staff are a luxury, but as the business grows be aware that you cannot continue to do all the tasks. There will come a point when you become inefficient and do not have enough time to complete everything in sufficient detail. Taking on an extra pair of hands will increase your costs but you will be surprised at how much time will be saved, allowing you to do what you do best, which is bringing in more business.