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There’s a lot you don’t know when you start your first business, and you’ll likely make some mistakes on your journey. But wouldn’t it be great if someone would warn you about those mistakes so you could avoid them altogether? Here are 10 errors you can evade simply by knowing about them.
1. Not thinking through your business name
Your business’s name says a lot. It’s the first thing people encounter about your brand. If it’s too silly or cutesy, people won’t take you seriously. If it’s too hard to say or spell, you cause issues with branding. If it’s too milquetoast (think AAA Towing), it’s easy to forget. Spend the necessary time to not only come up with a few memorable names for your business, but also to search to see if others in your industry are using the same name. Ideally, you want to appear at the top of search results for your business name, not 10 pages later.
2. Not having a website
In this day and age, you simply can’t afford not to have a website. And yet half of small businesses don’t have one. Websites are no longer cost-prohibitive, and many you can create on your own with templated site builders or simple content management systems. As for maintenance? A little ongoing effort can go a long way in terms of keeping your dedicated website looking fresh and remaining relevant in search results.
3. Not having a business plan
You might think that your little ole business isn’t big enough to necessitate a business plan, but you’d be wrong. Even if it’s a two-page document outlining what your business is about and your goals for the company, it’s something you can look to over time to ensure that you’re staying on track.
4. Staying a sole proprietorship
By default, when you start your business, you operate as a sole proprietorship. But with this business structure, your personal assets aren’t protected. That means that if someone were to sue your company, you personally would be liable. You don’t want that, so look at creating an LLC or corporation.
5. Not marketing
Sure, you scored a few customers early on, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need marketing. The trick with marketing is: you’ve got to do it when you don’t need it. You might be flush with business now, but in a few months, that could change. It’s what you do now that will ensure that you keep a steady stream of customers coming all year long.
6. Not networking
This is especially true for people who work from home. It’s all too easy to stay in the office and focus on the business, but the truth is, you need to get out and meet other people. Not only can it help you find new customers, but it can also connect you with powerful players in your industry who can serve as mentors or help you in other ways.
7. Trying to do it all
At the start of your business, you’ll need to take on everything yourself, but many entrepreneurs make this a habit. After a year or two, they’re ready to have a nervous breakdown because they can’t. handle. so. much. stress. You’re better off delegating the stuff you’re less good at to others. Hire freelancers or outsource work to a firm. If you’ve got enough work and budget, hire your first full-time employee.
8. Putting all your marketing eggs in one basket
Another mistake many new entrepreneurs make is using only one channel to market their business. But it takes a well-rounded marketing strategy, including content marketing, public relations, email, and maybe advertising to get the best results.
9. Staying stagnant
Are you of the line of thinking that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” If so, you’re missing out on serious opportunity for growth. If you continue to innovate, improve and expand your product line, and find new ways to be relevant to your audience, you’ll always remain competitive.
10. Assuming you have nothing to learn
Sure, you have plenty of knowledge about your industry, but there’s always more room to grow. When you stop learning, you stop developing, and that’s deadly for your business. Stay sharp about your industry and business in general by reading blog content, books and magazines, and by attending webinars, seminars and workshops.