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10 Common Mistakes First Time Business Owners Make

Running a retail shop or other small business is exciting. Opportunities and risks loom around every corner. 

Chances are, you love what you do, but you want to avoid some of the common small business mistakes. 

We've compiled this list to provide an overview of ten of the most common mistakes new business owners make every day.

Ten Common Small Business Mistakes To Avoid


1.  Not Being Honest With Yourself

As cheesy as it might sound, the first rule in business is to be honest with yourself. Business gurus often talk about trusting your own instincts, but honesty is the foundation of trust. Self-honesty allows you to better sell your product or services. It also allows you to recognize what isn't working and make changes.


2.  Going Into Business For The Wrong Reasons

Every entrepreneur has a unique set of reasons for going into business. Given this diversity of visions, it is difficult to say there are right or wrong reasons. However, some people start a business from a position of weakness such as difficulty finding a job or the desire to work fewer hours. Sometimes these lackluster starts become success stories, but sometimes they become cautionary tales. Forbes outlines five reasons not to become an entrepreneur, some of these are not deal breakers, but they highlight pitfalls of opening a business from a position of weakness and a mindset of scarcity.


3.  Micromanaging Your Staff

Many business women (and men) see their business as their "baby." It is only natural, after all, you pour your talent, time, energy, and resources into building and nurturing into building the business. This dedication makes it hard to trust your staff and to empower them to make decisions.

Few competent employees enjoy working for a micro-manager. In fact, it is a sure way to lose the best talent. No one can do it all. Many management gurus suggest advise bosses to surround themselves with the smartest people they can find then trust their expertise.


4.  Poor Hiring Practices

As mentioned, micromanaging employees is one of the most common small business mistakes. Sometimes this mistake is the result of poor hiring practices. When you have a very small staff -- every team member counts. You want to find the best and brightest. Or at least the diamond in the rough who will shine with a bit of training and experience.

As a business owner, you often double as your own human resources manager. Follow a few best practices like appropriate screening and background checks to help you find trustworthy staff. Offer clear job descriptions and direction so your staff understands your expectations. All this saves future problems, and it makes it easier for you to trust your employees and not micromanage them. This helps prevent other common small business mistakes including not taking time off to care for yourself.


5.  Not Taking Time Off

Starting and running a business are so all-consuming. However, by working 24-7 you miss out on your personal and your family life. Also, you cannot give 100% if you are stressed, unhealthy, or burned out. Make time to take care of yourself, spend time with people you love, take a few minutes for your workouts, hobbies, and relaxation. This downtime repays itself in dividends such as fresh ideas, energy, and creativity.


6.  Trusting Technology Too Much

Although it is important to trust yourself and your staff, you may not want to trust your technology too much. Current technology makes it easier than ever to run a small enterprise. We love business and communication technology. The problem is that too often small business owners make the mistake of trusting their tech so much they don't backup their files or pay enough attention to security.

Make an action plan for everything that could go wrong with your technology. Back your files up daily or as often as you update them. Use up-to-date software and operating systems. Use strong passwords for any accounts that contain your customers' personal and financial information. Educate yourself and your staff on best practices to maintain security.


7.  Not Listening to Your Customers

As a business owner, you need to trust your vision and your mission. However, you also want to listen to your customers. Do they love your products? If not, why not? Your customers are the best source of valuable information that makes your business grow.


8.  Not Protecting Intellectual Property and Business Interests

Some new business owners are visionaries with great ideas. The problem is that sometimes they don't protect these ideas and can be vulnerable to intellectual property theft. Don't skimp on good legal and professional advice, as it tends to pay for itself. Make time to learn the best business practices to protect your interests and to limit your liability. Often this is the difference between success and failure.


9.  Neglecting Your Website and Social Media Presence

Small business owners are always so busy. There are never enough hours in the day! It is easy to neglect digital marketing when you feel like your business is booming. The problem is that today's consumer researches businesses online and asks for recommendations via social media. According to Google, the prevalence of smartphones results in customers making purchasing decisions during "micro-moments" where they spontaneously research retailers and local businesses.   If your business doesn't have a strong online presence, then your competitor just may win those customers.


10.  Neglecting Your Network

Small business owners excel at relationships. You spend all day building relationships with your customers, staff, suppliers, and hired professionals. It is challenging to find time to expand your network. However, networking is where you may gain access to even more opportunities. Networking allows you to become a resource in your local business community, secure local media coverage, or find that perfect cross-promotion collaboration.

Running a small business is exciting and sometimes scary. By avoiding some of these common small business mistakes, you can breathe easier and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.


Featured image via royalty-free stock photo

Tags: Management and Leadership

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Published by

Lisa Klein

Lisa Klein