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The Top 10 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

In this digital age, it has never been a better time to build a brand, find customers and do what you love! The thrill, freedom and fulfillment of doing business on your own terms, setting your own goals and making an impact is so exciting… but it also means taking the road less traveled.

Especially for solopreneurs, navigating the small business world can be extremely difficult. Someone else’s map won’t look anything like yours and all you can do is take it one day at a time, experiment to find what works well for YOU and learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

That, my friends, is what today’s blog post is all about. As a business coach, I've worked with countless small business owners over the years and have noticed strong patterns in the mistakes they’ve made! Let’s dive into the top 10 mistakes that small business owners make and how to avoid each of them.

 

1. Not having a clear business plan

A clear business plan is the foundation of any successful business. Without one, you're essentially flying blind. A good business plan should outline your goals, target market, competition, and financial projections. Sometimes the mistake is not having a business plan at all, but more often it’s the mistake of not having one specific enough or not updating it as things about your business change! The business plan is a living document which changes over time and serves to keep your eye on a moving ball. Don’t be afraid to let it evolve as you and your audience does!

 

2. Not understanding your target market

If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to nobody. You need to know who your customers are and what they want. Take the time to research and understand your target market so you can tailor your products and services to their needs. This will help you build a loyal customer base and increase your chances of success. Ask yourself all sorts of questions about their motivations, likes and dislikes, fears, desires and more!

 

3. Underestimating the power of marketing

It may not be everyone’s favorite task but marketing is essential for any business to thrive. It's not enough to have a great product or service if no one knows about it! You need to invest in marketing efforts such as social media, email campaigns, and advertising to get your message out there. Most importantly, make sure your marketing efforts are on the platforms and channels your target audience is likely to use, not just the ones everyone else is advertising on.

 

 

4. Failing to manage cash flow

Even if you’re in it for the mission, cash flow is still the lifeblood of any business! This is something you need to have buttoned up and keep a close eye on at every stage of your business. Budgeting, having a tax strategy and making wise investments so you can continue to grow are absolutely essential. If you’re overwhelmed just thinking of it, talk to a financial professional! They’re here to help and can help you put together a plan.

 

5. Not having a solid team

Your employees are the backbone of your business. Even if you are a solopreneur, doing every last thing yourself is next to impossible and keeps you from being in your zone of genius. Whether you are hiring staff full-time or delegating work to contractors on a site like Fiverr, the right team with the right resources is essential for growth. Remember not to overlook the smaller things like clear communication, training and on-boarding.

 

6. Not taking advantage of small business funding

Whether you want to start your business without draining your life savings or to grow the business you already have, small business funding is a phenomenal way to push forward on your goals! These include small business loans, grants, crowdfunding, and venture capital. If you aren’t sure where to get started, you can take advantage of a business funding course that will teach you everything you need to know.

 

 

7. Failing to adapt to change

The business world is constantly changing, and if you don't adapt, you'll get left behind. Stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies within your target market, and be willing to pivot your business strategy when necessary. A great example of this is the revolution of using AI to assist in brainstorming, content production and lifting administrative dead weight. Never be afraid to embrace your new ideas, break the mold and be authentically you with your audience.

 

8. Ignoring customer feedback

This may seem like a no-brainer but it can be easy to do, especially for an overwhelmed solopreneur doing it all. Remember that engaging with your customer’s feedback is extremely valuable. Not only does it build a strong brand reputation but it also allows you to go one layer deeper in understanding your target audience. Listening to what they say, what they don’t say and reading between the lines can be extremely insightful and impactful in further development of your brand!

 

9. Not having a contingency plan

Unexpected events can happen at any time, so it's important to have a contingency plan in place. This could include a backup plan for your supply chain, having more than one merchant account in case funds are frozen or a plan for dealing with a sudden drop in sales. A good contingency plan can help you weather any storm and keep your business running smoothly!

 

 

10. Neglecting your own health and wellbeing

I can’t stress this enough: your business won’t be running long if you run yourself into ground. As a small business owner, it's easy to neglect your own health and wellbeing in favor of getting things done. Make time for exercise, relaxation, and other activities that help you recharge. This in turn will help you be more focused, productive, creative and available to your audience!

 

If you find yourself guilty of one or more of these mistakes, don’t feel bad: it doesn’t reflect on whether you’re cut out for being a business owner. We are all there at one point or another! One of the best things you can do to address these common business mistakes is to seek help, whether that’s through resources and training, a community of peers or a business coach like myself!

Here are four things you can do TODAY to start moving closer to your business goals:

  • Want to start or restructure your business but overwhelmed by legal jargon and red tape? Check out my 20-Step Business Structure Blueprint!

  • Need help with things like systems, branding and social media marketing? My Digital CEO Toolbox has you covered, and you get access to twice monthly group calls with other entrepreneurs!

  • Ready to start leveraging business credit to found or expand your company without draining your savings account? Enroll in my Business Credit Mastery course!

  • Feeling a little unsure? Claim your FREE Strategy Session with me to develop your business goals, mission and vision!

Imagine having all the tools & support you ever needed to start your dream business... today.


I'm talking not only heftier numbers in that bank account. I'm talking the freedom to do what you want, when you want, because you can work however you want, whenever you want.

Claim your FREE ticket to my live business funding training:
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"We are focused on helping women entrepreneurs become fundable."


Katrina Fitten, NDFYF CEO
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