Top 10 Common Mistakes Local Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them

18September 2020

Here are the top 10 common mistakes which local businesses tend to make.

10 most common mistakes local business tends to make and how to avoid them.  Unfortunately, very few start-up businesses make it beyond their 3rd year. Failure is usually down to a number of clearly identifiable mistakes, which if small business owners are aware of, can increase their chances of survival.

10 Common Local Business Mistakes

  1. Lack of Market Research
  2. Poor Record Keeping
  3. Insufficient Capital
  4. Ineffective Marketing Or None At All
  5. Not Having a Website
  6. Ignoring Changes In The Market
  7. Spending On The Wrong Things
  8. Dependent On A Small Number Of Customers
  9. Growing Too Quickly
  10. Trying To Do Everything

1.  Lack of Market Research

When a budding entrepreneur comes up with an idea for a new business he assumes that because he would buy such a product or service than everyone else will. This may be the case for day-to-day necessities but for other items, this is usually not so.

It’s important that when you start up you carefully research the market to check that:

There is demand at a level that would lead to a sustainable business.

People are prepared to pay the price required for you to make a decent profit

Undertaking market research may appear time-consuming but the effort will pay off.

2.  Poor Record Keeping

Some business people are not born administrators; they feel more comfortable getting out there and doing the business. Paperwork is too easy to ignore but can never be put off indefinitely.

Sales, purchases, and other expenditures must be carefully documented, so you know whether you are making a profit or not. Invoices must be issued on time and chased up promptly if there is a delay in payment. It’s all very well having the sales but poor record-keeping can hold you back.

Having your paperwork in order will also save you time when it comes to your accountant doing your year-end books!

3.  Insufficient Capital

When starting off it is easy to decide what capital is required for fixtures and fittings, machinery, and stock. What many new business owners forget about is the cash needed to fund day-to-day requirements, i.e. cash to pay expenses before your customers pay you. This is known as your working capital requirement.

Small businesses can fail because they have insufficient cash to start off to meet these immediate expenses.   If you wish to survive make sure you set aside enough cash to meet all your needs for the first few months.

4.  Ineffective Marketing Or None At All

You cannot afford to treat the cost of marketing as an unnecessary expense. A business with no marketing is like waving in the dark you know you are doing it but no one else does!

There are many ways to promote your business on a small budget; it’s just a case of being inventive and creative. Whatever you do, don’t assume that people will quickly know you are in business they won’t, unless you tell them.

5.  Not Having a Website

A recent survey reveals, nearly half of local business owners don’t have a website.  In a digital-first age, this common local business mistake is like starting a business, but not bothering to tell anyone about it, or not putting a sign outside your store.

A website not only helps local businesses promote and sell their products and services, but it also allows them to differentiate themselves from their competitors, especially in the post pandemic economy, customers rely heavily on the Internet to learn everything about a company. This makes a website one of the most important business assets for sharing information, building credibility and standing out in crowded marketplaces.

6.  Ignoring Changes In The Market 

As a local business owner its very easy to get immersed in your business and not see what is happening around you in the market. Always keep your eyes and ears open to what the competition is doing and what your customers want. Don’t get left behind.

7.  Spending On The Wrong Things

Being in business can be exciting, especially as the cash starts to roll in! However, don’t be tempted to spend it on a new car, a house, or just a good time. If you are to own a successful business then you have to keep some cash back to fund future growth. A business cannot grow without cash, so commit to spending business money on the business.

8.  Dependent On A Small Number Of Customers

Don’t fall into the trap of setting up a business just because one person says they will buy from you every week or month. Setting up and running a business, which is dependent on one customer, is not a recipe for success. What happens if, one month after you have spent all your cash to set up your business, that customer says he has changed his mind and has decided to buy elsewhere? Unless you can find other customers very quickly you are faced with closure.

Before jumping on a new venture make sure you have a sufficient number of customers such that if a few go elsewhere you can still continue trading.

9.  Growing Too Quickly

Surprisingly, growing too quickly can be a problem. You have to be disciplined enough to only take on work you can handle. If you are tempted to accept too much you could end up disappointing not only the new client but also your existing ones.

Also, don’t under-estimate the impact rapid growth can have on your administrative burden. As I mentioned earlier, getting behind on the paperwork can have an equally damaging effect on your business.

10.  Trying To Do Everything

Finally, the problem most local business owners have is the fact that everything falls on their plate. Inevitably this is how it’s likely to be in the beginning, when the limited budget means that staff are a luxury, but as the business grows be aware that you cannot continue to do all tasks. There will come a point when you become inefficient and not have enough time to complete everything in sufficient detail. Taking on an extra pair of hands will increase your costs but you will be surprised at how much time will be saved, allowing you to do what you do best, getting the business in.

Take a look at each of the mistakes and make sure that you don’t fall into these traps.

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