Business owners: 9 mistakes to avoid

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

Anyone who has started a business knows how difficult it can be to find success. It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to turn an idea into a reality, and even then, there are no guarantees. There are simply too many external factors beyond the business’s control that will influence the success of the enterprise.

With running a business so challenging, it’s important not to make it any more difficult than it needs to be. Alas, that’s just what many entrepreneurs do, and it’s all because they make mistakes that make their lives more difficult. In this post, we’ll run through some of those common errors, and provide advice on how to avoid them.

Ignoring the competition

All businesses are good at focusing on their own operations. They’re less good at keeping an eye on what other businesses are doing. Businesses don’t exist in isolation — they’re part of a broader industry. By keeping tabs on the competition, businesses can check they’re meeting modern standards, they’re pricing their goods and services correctly, and just generally offering the same or better level of service. You don’t need to copy other businesses (in fact, you shouldn’t), but you should know what they’re up to.

How you monitor competition will depend on the type of business you run, and whether you’re an online or offline business. Think you don’t have competition? Think again — you will, and if you absolutely don’t have competition right now, then you surely will at some stage.

Underestimating SEO

The vast majority of customers search for businesses online before making a purchase. That’s true for both online and offline businesses. If you’re way down on the search engine results page, then you’ll be missing out on a whole host of potential customers. SEO used to involve simply adding a few keywords to a website, but in recent years it has become much more complex. For starters, there are different types of SEO. If you’re a real-world business that offers in-person goods and services, then it’ll be best to work with a local SEO agency to ensure your potential customers can find you. If you’re an online business, then general SEO that has been tailored to your specific niche will be key.

Don’t underestimate the power of SEO. Done correctly, it can have a transformative impact on your business success.

Hiring without thought

A new hire can make all the difference to a business, but it’s not guaranteed. If you don’t have correct hiring policies in place, then there’s every chance that the hire will not only fail to push your business forward but may even have a negative impact. Not all candidates are the same; as with all things, there will be good and bad candidates. Learning to tell the difference can set the business up for success. If you don’t have the time or capabilities to improve your hiring process, then consider handing the job over to a hiring agency.

Lack of staff integration

It’s hard to find quality employees to add to your team. But it’s not as if the job is done as soon as they’ve signed the contract. In many ways, it’s just getting started. Companies that have a robust onboarding process perform much better than those that do not. You might know how everything works at your business, what you’re looking for, and so on, but your new hire won’t have that information, no matter how talented they may be.

Putting together an onboarding process helps to bring new hires up to speed as soon as possible. It’s also recommended to put together personal development plans for each employee; they don’t just help to elevate the employee’s skills, but can also enhance the employee retention rate.

Failing to get customer feedback

You’ll hope that your customers love your goods and services. But there’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s to ask them directly. Gathering customer feedback takes a little bit of work, but it’s highly recommended — it can have a tremendous impact on the future direction of your business. After all, if you know what customers want to see more of, then you’ll know exactly what to deliver. Many businesses have meeting after meeting trying to put together a strategy to please their customers, failing to realize that it’s easier — and more effective — to simply ask them directly. This post outlines some methods for gathering and utilizing customer feedback.

Letting the finances manage themselves 

Most businesses that go out of business do so because of cash flow problems. Those issues rarely come out of thin air; when you look back, you can see that it was a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. The best method for avoiding this problem is to hire an accountant to manage your finances on your behalf. That way, you’ll know that this all-important aspect of your operations has been taken care of.

Becoming overly comfortable

Everyone is seeking a little bit of success. Once you get it, it can be tempting to take your foot off the gas and stop doing the things that pushed you forward in the first place. Becoming overly set in their ways can be a death knell for businesses, only it takes many years to die. While you don’t need to be quite as gung ho as you were when you first started, there is value in maintaining an air of innovation at your business. Besides everything else, it just helps with the atmosphere of the business — employees want to believe that they’re working for a business that’s going places.

Working too hard

On the other hand, some entrepreneurs have the opposite problem; they work too hard. This tends to be glamorized by today’s society, but there are risks involved. It’s impossible to work for twelve hours straight, for years on end. It’s important to find a balance between your professional and personal lives. You’ll want your business to succeed, of course, but it’s not the only important thing in your life.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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