Small Company … 20 Struggles that Are Easily Understood
No business attribute is more important today as that of adaptability, as many, many businesses are on the brink of irrelevance … unless they change as fast as change itself. Study these 20 small company struggles. They will alert you to common mistakes to avoid and help you adapt. In avoiding them you will increase your chances of business success.
Your strategies on success do run out of steam, get old and become ineffective. You need to keep refreshing them based on your anticipation of the next change.
Check out our thoughts on team leverage.
Before we continue, let me ask you a question.
What business strategy is your strength? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.
With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.
Building a small business for failure? Certainly not. But results show many more failures than successes. In 7 out of 8 industry sectors.
From a November, 2012 article by Scott Shane, his results showed a services sector rate of success of 47% and a retail sector success rate of 41%. For businesses started in 2005. Not very enduring.
Why you may ask? Many reasons. Two of the top reasons … poor cash flow planning and not enough capital resources.
So what other mistakes can a small business avoid to improve its success besides having more cash as a safety net? Consider these 28 you should avoid to improve your success rate:
Weak to no competitive advantages
Quite simply, if you can’t build and sustain competitive advantages, don’t start the business. Best places to look for advantages? Customer service and convenience. Find ways to save customers more time in solving their problems than your competitors.
No focus on customer relationships
Customer relationship building is not rocket science. Build customer relationships like you make friends. Be pleasant, social … wear a smile and a nametag. All things being equal, people like doing business with their friends. Not very good at making friends? Maybe a small business is not for you.
Lacking target customers
You can’t be a business that is all things to all people. Do you know who you target customers are? Your ideal customers? If not, you need to get busy.
No attention on customer value
Look for customer value in places you might not expect to find it. Have you thought about building synergistic alliance and relationships with other businesses? Relationships that create customer value that neither business could create on their own?
No focus on customer follow-up
Prompt follow up with your customers will be noticed. Go the extra mile. And always, always, always keep your promises.
Ignoring the little things
How many times have you surprised customers by doing little things that were not expected? Here is an example. My favorite florist always insists on taking my vase of flowers out to my car and setting it up so it won’t get knocked over. Consistently. A little thing, yes. But it makes a difference.
Remember, the more you engage with customers, the more you can own the moment. And the better your understanding of their needs and from these insights the easier it is for you to win new advocates.
Limited focus on business plan
It’s not clear to us why business plans are the way they are, but they’re often focused on too many things. If you want to maximize success, the key is to focus on five topics. We recommend dividing the business plan into these five sections and use them to manage your business:
- Competitive analysis
- Market research and analysis
- Marketing plan
- Financial plan and cash flow
- Short versus long term
Not seeking help from others
Find local business leaders that can exchange ideas and support your thinking on day to day activities. Activities like being a sounding board, idea generation, and offering lessons learned. They often see solutions that you can’t see. You can do the same for them. Create a large network and make it social … like a casual advisory board.
Working with wrong priotities
Sounds trivial doesn’t it? But you would be amazed at how many of our clients have their priority lists inverted. Or work on things that should be ignored. This can be a collosal mistake.
Tackle real problems on behalf of your customers, many of which may challenge the status quo. Be curious. Experiment on a small scale often and learn. Place lots of small bets to see what will work best. Don’t be afraid of unconventional paths.
Getting totally consumed
Be a team player … caring about your employees. Delegate and empower them to act on your behalf. Remember that you can’t do everything or be everywhere.
Learn to back away occasionally. Maybe an afternoon … sometimes for a day. Find a balance between work and life that works for you.
Small company … ignoring customer insights
Unlike big companies, a small business gives you the opportunity to interact with customers on a daily basis. Make use of these interactions by gaining better knowledge of their wants and needs. Ask good questions, listen carefully, and take notes. You will be amazed at how eager many are to help and assist you in learning. Customer insights are one of your most valuable assets.
Not being a multiplier leader
Multiplier business leaders know that at the apex of the intelligence hierarchy is NOT the lone genius. Rather, it is the genius who knows the importance of bringing out the smarts and capabilities in everyone in the team.
Not putting attention on connections
Both managers and employees know their job with their teams is about building lots of connections. They make people feel they have a stake in common problems.
Not soliciting feedback
It is vital that you let your team, as well as your customers, know you are interested in their concerns and ideas. Listen well and use inputs for solutions to any and all problems.
Not offering recognition and sharing success
Focus on building team confidence by publicly recognizing employee efforts and achievements. Think of it this way; anything is possible if you share the glory. Giving others a chance to claim credit is an easy, and effective, way to magnify results.
Not communicating clearly and often
Language is a manager’s most powerful tool, whether it is written or oral. Always keep your people informed of team goals, priorities, and schedules. Without the ability to communicate, managers can possess all the other attributes and still fail to have an impact.
Small business struggles … lacking decisiveness
One of the key jobs of a businessman is to be an effective decision maker. Employees are never comfortable with managers who make slow decisions and the frequently change their minds. Quality managers make decisions quickly and stick with them.
Not maintaining trust
Always do what you say and set good examples. Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism and dedication that you expect from others. Trust, once broken, is seldom restored to its original state. It is the most fragile yet essential attribute of leadership and management.
Related material: Is Your Small Business Coping With Technological Change?
Not showing customer obsession
The best businesses start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
The bottom line
The moral of this story is that these small business mistakes are easily understood and correctable. When the corrections are implemented well, they will have a great influence on your team development and teamwork. If these different thoughts are possessed by your current management or leadership team, or your emerging leaders, you will be in a good position for the road ahead.
Which of these success lessons stand out to you as the most critical? Do you have any other thoughts of effective leaders worthy of mention? Leave a comment and share your insights with us and other readers. We would be most interested in your thoughts.
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Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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