7 reasons your small business may not be thriving

research shows the longevity of small businesses can be tracked to factors that go far beyond simply having the right products or services. Improve your odds of success by considering whether you’re making the following common mistakes
by: Custom Toll Free , October 11, 2016

If you’ve already launched your small business and all seems to be going well, you might assume you’re on the right track. But research shows the longevity of small businesses can be tracked to factors that go far beyond simply having the right products or services.

Improve your odds of success by considering whether you’re making the following common mistakes:

1. No business plan. A surprising 67 percent of business owners surveyed last year said they had no formal business plan. But winging it is rarely a good idea, and different studies have linked failure to plan with failure as a whole. A good business plan doesn’t have to be lengthy, but should at least delineate your business’ core values, mission statement, target audience, product and specific plans for selling and marketing that product. Measurable goals are a must. “Every business, big or small, needs a plan,” advises Lisa Stevens of Wells Fargo. “We know from research and our direct experience working with business owners that a formal, written business plan is the foundation for long-term financial success.”

2. No website. If you’re focused on your brick-and-mortar operation, you may see maintaining a company website as a waste of your time. You’re not alone; that was the outlook of almost half of America’s small businesses in a poll this year. Their top arguments? Websites are irrelevant to their business or too expensive. In this digital age, however, a website is essential to maintaining the credibility of your business. Your website represents your business identity 24-7 (even when you’re closed), providing would-be customers a fast and convenient portal for important information and promotional material. A website doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, but it does provide not-to-be-missed marketing opportunities that could significantly impact your revenues. And it also allows for the automatic gathering of invaluable customer data.

3. No data tracking. Currently, 51 percent of small businesses believe analytics are critical, but only 45 percent track their data even if methodology is free. The major problem is that identifying your best audiences can be very difficult without use of Google Analytics or an online tracking tool. You could remain ignorant about the characteristics of your best customers, affecting everything from your product mix to your marketing strategy (and ultimately your sales growth).

4. You’re ignoring competition. Paying attention to your competitors lets you match their best and most successful ideas and programs while avoiding their mistakes. It can also tip you off to industry trends you need to jump on.

5. No differentiation. You will have a hard time competing in any industry if you can’t figure out what makes you special before highlighting that in your marketing efforts. If you can’t explain to yourself why customers should choose you, they won’t be able to either. You must identify your unique selling proposition, then capitalize on that.

6. No marketing acumen. Small business owners don’t need a degree in marketing, but they should at least understand the basic principles of how to reach an audience. Business analysts recommend you spend at least a couple of hours each week reading up on small business marketing, prioritizing those tips pertaining to your industry. Your competitors may well be maximizing big data to provide as much intelligence for their marketing campaigns as possible. As such, word of mouth no longer cuts it as a primary form of publicity, no matter how exceptional your product is.

7. You’re wasting money. It’s easy for new business owners to convince themselves they need all the latest bells and whistles. In reality, they need to avoid investing in anything not slated to directly grow their business. “Ask yourself how it will help your bottom line,” recommends Joanne Chang in the Wall Street Journal. “If you can figure out a direct correlation, then it’s probably worth considering.”
In short, keeping your eyes open about what can go wrong in your business can only be a good thing — especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur.

“If you are not brutally honest with yourself, you can’t make informed decisions that will truly improve your company,” notes Lucas Carlson on Inc.com. “You will hide behind excuses and spin stories. You need a healthy dose of skepticism — not the same as self-doubt or lack of self-belief — to make real forward progress.”

Custom Toll Free can advise you on cost-effective marketing strategies for your small business. Contact us at 1-800-Customize.

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