Years of experience have taught me that running a small business is a challenge, especially when you are providing a service. Your expectations for success may not match your results, because simply providing excellent service within your field isn’t always enough. When I first started running my business, I naively assumed that because I was a master at my profession, my business would flourish. I failed to realize that my business skills were equally important and some of those lessons took hard tolls on me before I fully understood them.
Luckily, many of the lessons that I learned were due to mistakes that are actually quite easy to avoid. While learning these lessons won’t make you a business genius overnight, they will help you avoid rough spots that many small business owners encounter.
1. Don’t Lose Track of Your Goals Odds are you didn’t start a business simply to own a business. I didn’t. I started my business because I wanted to become a home owner. I eventually bought the home, but then didn’t spend much time enjoying it. Eventually I realized that I had lost track of my goal.
You need to make sure that running your business doesn’t prevent you from achieving or enjoying the goals that made you start the business in the first place. If that does happen, you need to adjust your business practices to allow you to actually enjoy the fruits of your success.
2. Understand Your Strengths, Outsource Your Weaknesses At one point I was looking for more capital for my business, so I took on a minority partner. More capital did help grow my business, but because my new partner had almost exactly the same skills I had, that growth was slower than it should have been.
When outsourcing or automating your work tasks, choose a partner or software that has strengths where you are weak. For example, if you don’t have strong computer skills, but want a better web presence, team up with experts in improving the web presence of small businesses.
3. Don’t Take on Too Much Work Even if you do have the necessary skills to handle certain aspects of your business, you need to consider the cost-benefit of actually taking on that work. In other words: would you rather be in front of clients as the face of your company, or in front of the computer as the backend administrator?
For example, maintaining a social media presence or managing effective email marketing helps grow your business, but it is very time intensive. Employing marketing automation services to take those duties off your plate will always pay off in the end – and be more cost effective to boot.
4. Never Get Discouraged Your business will have ups and downs. Mine sure did. Simply acknowledging that before you start your business can help you avoid getting discouraged when the down times eventually happen. You don’t need to plan for the worst, and you certainly shouldn’t expect it, but if you prepare yourself for the concept, you will be ready for anything.
5. Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut The world is changing rapidly and your business needs to change just as rapidly if you want to stay relevant. This can apply to any part of your business, but especially applies to your use of technology. It took me years before I realized that I simply didn’t understand the value of concepts like e-mail marketing and local search placement – two strategies that were integral to the growth of my business.
Changing with the times can mean simply purchasing better chairs for your waiting room or it can mean embedding a super easy marketing automation software into your daily work flow to create and maintain a multi-page, mobile friendly website for your small business. Whatever you do, as long as your business is constantly evolving, you are making the right decision.
Yodle connects consumers to local businesses simply and cost-effectively through its online marketing platform. Yodle currently serves more than 45,000 small business customers. This blog is used as a forum to provide key company updates and milestones, and to discuss important industry and business trends. Learn more.