Seven Mistakes Small-Business Owners Make

 Running a business is a challenge and some owners make it even a bigger one. Here are seven mistakes I typically run into.

Lack of Vision. Owners must always keep an eye on how their strategy and execution measures up against their vision. What should their vision stand for in 3-5 years? This is a constant process.

Working IN Their Business rather than Working ON Their Business. Books have been written about this subject, but many owners seem more interested in executing the transactional details rather than developing the strategies, people, customers, etc. that can really propel the enterprise.

Failure to Delegate and Grow Associates. Owners cannot be the swami or “answer person.” They should engage and empower others while giving them allowance to fail. In doing so, they leverage their people’s talent and keep them more engaged. This can and should include outside resources such as bankers, risk managers, accountants, attorneys, Board Members, and other subject matter experts. Besides, an owner who tries to do it all; will end up doing nothing well and may leave his or her business feet first. The best leaders succeed because they choose and hire appropriate people to supplement them.

Not Being Open to Change. The only thing that is certain is “change.” Feeding “sacred cows” or blindly adhering to old ways is a sure way to fail. Reevaluate your policies, processes, and systems on a continual basis. Industry leaders in today’s world could be closures in tomorrow’s.

Not Knowing Why Their Customers Buy. Pricing, convenience, and quality are not the only reasons customers buy. Customer loyalty is rooted in more than these tangibles and can change without notice. Your job is to know your customer better than they know themselves.

Offering a Transaction rather than a Gratifying Experience. No matter what your product or service, studies show that more than 90% of vendor preference is predicated upon how the experience makes the customer feel. An outstanding experience trumps the others and gains loyalty.

Lack of an Exit Plan. Every business and particularly the smaller to medium ones should, no must have an exit plan from their very inception. An exit plan will directly affect the way in which you strategize and execute, how people are developed, and how and when additional capital is required. And every plan should also have a “Plan B.” Building a successful business is a shallow and disappointing investment in one’s life if there is not a succession.

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