None of us start out wanting to make mistakes. I bet you actually want everything to be completely perfect! But let’s be honest – mistakes happen. You can, and should, learn from them!
So I want to give you the top 5 mistakes I have learned from in more than 20 years in business.
Not knowing who your customer is.
Do your research. Ask your customer what they want. Do those focus groups or surveys. Make sure you know what pain point you are easing or the gain they are getting from your product. Without this information, clearly defined, how can you possibly know;
- The value of your product or service
- Where to market your product or service
- Exactly who your competition is.
- How to beat your competition
Not creating a vision
This applies whether you are a one-man band or you employ thousands of people. A really important part of ensuring everyone single person in your business is working towards the same goals is a clearly communicated Vision. If there are only a few people in your business it is important that you also understand how each goal works towards the overall Vision.
To make that more tangible:
- Vision – Customer champion in XX industry with integrity
- Strategy – Aim to be in the top 5 for customer satisfaction.
- Goal – Introduce new CSAT measuring tools and get the score to >85% in the first year
- Task(s) – Research and decide on a new system, Create and embed process for CSAT data collection. Create a roadmap and roll out to teams.
Not having SMART goals
I worked for a high street name that had a huge goal in for next year’s sales target – but it wasn’t SMART. So guess what? We didn’t hit the target. As a reminder of what is meant by SMART;
S – specific. You must be absolutely clear on what the point of this goal is.
M – measurable. Do you know where you are starting? Is there an existing report that you can use as you move toward the goal? Weekly? Monthly?
A – achievable. This should be action orientated. What specific steps need to happen to meet the goal. Who needs to do what? Is there time to get this done?
R – relevant. How does this tie into the overall strategy or vision? Does the person have the right skills to get this done?
T – timely. When will it start? How often does it need to be re-visited? When does it need to be complete?
If you want to know more about exactly how to set SMART goals have a look at my post How to write powerful goals that will actually happen
Not keeping good financial records (with budgets)
I know I’m weird – I like spreadsheets. You may not be quite so keen, I get it.
Everything from keeping an eye on your spend to being ready to do your taxes every year needs good record keeping. To run your business you need to be able to see;
- What you sell
- When you sell it
- What your costs are
- What your profit margin is.
This can just be for your total company recorded by month if you want it super simple. Or you can have categories, by week. Or you can go down to individual product detail with summaries that give you totals.
Make no mistake here – you will not succeed if you cannot see where, and how, you make your money.
Not starting simple
I’m going to give the example I see so often; people rushing to get an all singing, all dancing website before they do anything else.
In reality, they just need a practical, good looking, simple website to sell from that can be easily adapted to their business model changes.
This applies you your products as well. There is a term – MVP (minimum viable product) that is what you need to get to market. From there you can judge what your customers want and need then expand your portfolio accordingly.
You must do this knowing who your customer is and what they want. Develop a roadmap to get to your ultimate vision but start with only what you really need and move on from there.