Top 10 Small Business Mistakes To Avoid
First of all, if you own a small business I have the MOST respect & love for you (and we should probably be friends- DM me)!
Second of all, it's probably not what you expected... Is it?
I think if we all had any indication of what to REALLY expect as a small business owner, we might not have ever started... So I guess it's a good thing we were overly optimistic & a wee bit naive... Otherwise, we'd be missing out on all these incredible small businesses!
Personally, I freakin' LOVE small businesses! Like LOOOOVE them! Not just because I own my own small business, but to be honest, I've always loved them. They always have the greatest gifts & coolest finds! Plus, if they have handmade products... well those are a treat because they're one of a kind! Not only do I love them because of their unique products but I love supporting people who are supporting their families by following their passion. Nothing lights me up brighter than the presence of a passionate fellow business owner!
My business Chick Boss Cake, started in St Thomas, Ontario... So, I'm well aware of all the challenges that come along with starting & growing a small business especially in a small town!
Here are my top 10 tips to help you grow your small business into a successful one if you want to take it to the next level:
1. Make Set Store Hours & Keep 'Em Consistent!
Make sure your store hours are set & consistent. If your shop is in a downtown location for example, you'll want to set similar hours to the businesses around you. Why? Because all the businesses will be doing their own marketing to draw in customers, and if your shop is closed when their shop is open, you're probably missing out on lots of new customers who would've also stopped into your shop after they were done at the store they planned on visiting! I can't tell you how many times I've been shopping in downtown shops and I see the cutest store ever only to be disappointed that they're closed. Matching your store hours to similar businesses around you is a smart idea to capitalize on everyone else's marketing efforts! Not to mention, your marketing will help them out too. Also, try not to change your hours often, as that will lead to customer confusion & disappointment.
2. Do NOT Close Early. Ever.
You guys, this is a huge no-no if you want to grow your small business into a successful one! Closing early is unacceptable & please don't believe that anyone is going to see your "closing early today" post on social media prior to taking a trip to your shop, only to be disappointed. You're completely breaking the trust of your customers by doing this & trust is realllllllly hard to get back. You'll want to avoid this at all costs unless it is an ABSOLUTE emergency... And even then, I would recommend calling a friend or someone-anyone to fill in for you. Let's be real, life is going to happen & things come up- I totally get it! But straying from your regular store hours shouldn't be an option. Have a contingency plan in place so thatWHEN something happens & you need to leave, you're not closing early! As much as you'd love to believe 'oh people will totally understand'... The only thing they'll understand is you're closed when they took the time out of their busy day to come buy your product & they probably won't be back.
3. Infuse Your Personality Into Your Business & Brand!
You are what makes your business unique. You are your biggest asset! No one can copy your personality. They can copy your products, but they can't copy YOU! The more you're able to infuse your unique personality into your business & brand, the more interesting and compelling it will be for customers. Plus, by being authentically yourself, you'll attract the right kind of customers who 'get you' & love what you have to offer! One of my favourite sayings is "No one is you & that is your superpower". It's the darn truth!
4. Get Social!
It's ok if you're not a social butterfly. If you're more introverted like me, don't stress yourself out about attending in-person networking events (although certainly most beneficial if you can push outside your comfort zone & participate!). Thankfully there are many ways to be social without actually being there, hello social media! Social media is a super easy way to communicate your brand to the world & it's free (although I do recommend spending money on social media marketing as well- you'll get better results)! At the end of the day the more people who know about you, your business, your brand & what you're all about, the better! Think about it, if no one knows about you then no one is buying your products. If 100 people know about you, maybe 30 of them buy your product... This just gets amplified with the more people who know about you! So go ahead and shout it from the rooftops, be your own biggest fan & let the world know you're here!
5. Get Good Reviews... But Not Perfect Ones!
Yes good reviews are the best reviews- they're my favourite too...But it's so unrealistic & naive to believe that every single person loves your business & honestly, it feels fake. I know bad reviews sting- trust me, I know! But you need a few bad ones to balance out the hundreds of good ones or customer's will feel like it's too good to be true & honestly they'll probably be looking for things that suck at that point just because- it's human nature. No one is perfect which means no business can be either-since it IS run by a human. Responding to reviews (both good & bad) is a great opportunity to show future customers how you deal with potential issues- also a great trust building opportunity! That being said, most people are more prone to write a review out of disappointment which can sometimes lead to more negative reviews than good ones. That's why I say go ahead & be bold! Ask your loyal & regular customers who genuinely LOVE your business to take a few moments and leave you a great review. Chances are, they would be thrilled to do so!
6. Get A Freakin' Website.
If 2020 taught you anything... Get a freakin' website! Everything is virtual now. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Whether we like it or not (and trust me I'm not about to enjoy the virtual trip to Disneyland more than an in-person trip). You need to have a website. Other businesses have websites & if you don't, you'll be overlooked. There are so many simple website builders out there that you can do it yourself (I built my entire website myself). If you absolutely cannot do it yourself, then invest in someone else to do it for you! Bonus points to you if you can sell stuff on your website but at the very minimum you need a home page, about us page & a contact page. The whole world is digital & if you don't have a website you're going to be left behind.
7. Don't Waste Your Time On The Haters
I'm not talking about people who simply don't like your stuff... That is not a hater. A hater is someone who doesn't like your stuff ...or better yet hasn't even TRIED your stuff but just 'heard' that their friend hated it & let's the whole freakin' world know! They're a total waste of your time and energy. Time and energy are a precious thing & they deserve to be spent on areas of your business that will benefit them. Haters are time killers & energy wasters! You'll never convince them of your point of view so don't even waste time trying. I know it can be tempting to engage with them but trust me- your time is MUCH better spent elsewhere- ANY-WHERE-ELSE. They have all day to spend hating on you. Why is that? Because haters never amount to anything-ever. I've never seen a successful hater. Have you? They literally don't exist. It's impossible to achieve success as a hater. You don't have all day to spend on them so you'll never win & even if you did... Who the hell cares about them? Follow these 3 steps: 1. Block 2. Delete. 3. Move on!
8. Get Staff. You Need Help!
The toughest thing to do is hire OTHER people to help you with your business! It's also the most important thing to do. You cannot do everything yourself & be honest- did you start your own business TO do everything yourself? Probably not... Start hiring people. Make sure they're 'your kinda people' and they match your values. I have a whole blog on hiring the right people coming up but just know that you cannot grow a successful business by yourself!
9. Stop Acting Like A Small Business.
If you want to be a successful business you need to start acting like a successful business! Look at what big companies are doing and start aligning your business with their procedures & how they operate. They've obviously got it figured out. I'm not talking about implementing a 'Walmart' return policy on your small business- that probably would do more harm than good... But you do want to try & emulate what the big guys are doing because they have big CEO's & very smart people managing the business so anything you can learn from them & implement in your own way will be a huge asset to you!
10. Hustle. Hard Work Pays Off.
Hard work always pays off. Don't get 'comfortable' & 'complacent'- unless you plan on keeping your business small- very small...In which case, this blog isn't for you. Never settle for average & make sure you know that you can always do better. Be competitive with yourself & work your butt off! You'll need to put in endless hours of hard work before you gain any traction & even then... Don't let your foot off the gas! Full speed ahead!