Starting a small business and getting it up and running is a tedious, difficult task. However – what comes next is even harder, and we know it better than anyone. Today, we are going to outline some of the most dangerous behaviors, practices and ideas that are stopping your business from growing. Here at Mojo HelpDesk, we interact with small and medium sized business owners on a day‐to‐day basis in order to help them improve their business with our ticket‐tracking software. Because of this, we have amazing insight into some of the most common traps our clients fall into when trying to grow their business. Read on to learn about what we have found.
Not Having a Roadmap
Do you know how many potentially great businesses fail every single day because they had no idea where they were going? Too many to count. This is because a great idea is not enough for a business to work. It is a fantastic starting point, but there’s a lot of work before a great idea becomes a great business. When you’re setting out for a trip to an unknown country, you wouldn’t dare get in the car without checking your GPS – so why would you start your business journey if you have no idea where you want to go? Running a business – and being able to keep track of how it is doing – requires three things: a mission, a vision, and a strategy. You need to know what you want to do, how you want it to look when it’s done, and how you are going to do it.
Being run by owners, small businesses are great in that they are flexible, personal and approachable to customers. However, there is a huge risk of the ‘boss’ becoming the central persona of the business, and the only one holding any authority. Running a business is not a solo sport. Barry Moltz, a famous advisor to small business owners, warns of the dangers of ego and insecurity with small business owners and how their attitude can make or break the business. Being the ‘boss’ does not mean ordering people around and telling everyone what to do. In fact, a good ‘boss’ listens to what his knowledgeable, experienced employees have to say, and, more importantly, leaves his ego at the door while keeping the business’s best interest his top priority.
Doing Everything Alone
Expanding on the ‘bossing around’ concept. Another common problem with small business owners is their inability to delegate tasks and admit to themselves that they are only one person. If by running your enterprise you prefer to do all the work, regardless of your knowledge and expertise, and fail to engage your team in any meaningful manner, you are on your way to failure. Nobody can do it all, and nobody should do it all. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity; it means that you have abandoned your ego and made space for collaboration and teamwork. It also means that you understand what’s best for your business and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
The Double Helix Trap
Another term coined by the brilliant Barry Moltz, the double helix trap refers to another dangerous yet common phenomenon among small business owners: forgetting about prospective clients when caught up with current clients. In practice, this translates into putting marketing and sales on the back burner when business is doing well. Barry Moltz also calls it the boom‐and‐bust cycle, since it results in ‘boom’ periods when there is a lot of business (during which businesses forgo marketing and sales) which later turn into ‘bust’ periods (since due to lack of sales and marketing, they do not score new clients). Doing business this way also translates into an inconsistent, unsustainable marketing strategy that will never deliver the fruits of a good marketing campaign: loyal clients in a long‐term, substantial relationship with the brand. In order to avoid and overcome this trap, the best thing to do is to come up with a long‐term strategy of staying in touch with clients (and ensuring loyalty). This can be done through newsletters, social media marketing and the like.
Failing to Harness the Power of Automation
With the immense availability of smartphones, the internet and other technology, businesses that fail to take advantage of the numerous benefits of automation are certain to fall off the wagon. Automation tools, such as our own desktop ticket‐tracking software help improve efficiency, aid your employees in doing their job and ultimately reduce the costs of running your business. From scheduling social media posts to having access to surveillance cameras on your smartphone, automation is possible in nearly every aspect of your business. It doesn’t cost much (actually, some of the tools are free!) but it will save you an incredible amount of time and money: there really is no real reason for you to avoid it.
Waiting Too Long to Hire
This problem is actually more common with businesses that are in the process of growth but aren’t managing it well. If you are experiencing steady growth, or if there is a surge in demand for your product, the worst thing you can do is to wait on hiring new employees. Even though business owners are aware of the learning curve that comes with hiring a new team member, most of them opt to wait for undeniable demand to arise before hiring. However, in the month or two it takes the new employee to catch up to par, the business and customers suffer. The best alternative is for small businesses to anticipate when the need for a new member may arise, and be proactive with their hiring. To put it simply, if you know that summer is your high‐season when you need a few extra hands, don’t wait until June to find and hire them, prepare accordingly and get them on board during spring. You will be able to handle the adjustment period during times of light pressure, and your team will be at its best once summer comes.
That about settles it…
Although the road to constant, sustainable growth is a winded one, we hope that today’s read has helped illuminate the way a little bit. We want to conclude this post with words of encouragement: more than anyone, we know how difficult and exhausting it can be to run a business on your own, and we applaud you for it! Keep learning, stay focused, and your business will never suffer.