5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Running a Business

Launching and running a business is no easy task. There are hundreds of pitfalls to avoid along the way that can quickly send a company in downward direction. Some common mistakes businesses should constantly be aware of throughout their startup and growth stages include:

1. Not being able to succinctly describe what your business does.

Whether you are communicating via email, in person or over the phone it is essential to have an easy to understand two to three sentence description of what your company does, why your product or service is important and why it is unique. Investors, customers and partners will only give you a limited opportunity to catch their attention. Allowing it to slip by because you are unable to articulate what you do is a fatal error.

2. Focusing on the customer base you want versus the customers who are actually interested in your product or services.

During market research and when writing a business plan, entrepreneurs are able to develop a sense of who they will want to market their product or services to in terms of a target customer. But, if after launch the majority of sales are coming from a different market segment, do not be afraid to take a change of course and redirect your efforts to capitalize on an emerging opportunity.

3. Lacking a differentiator from competitors.

Cost-savings, better quality, efficiency, technology, these are all reasons that your product or service might be different from other similar solutions already on the market. Figuring out what your unique qualifiers are and how to explain them to your audiences will influence the overall success of your business.

4. Getting mired down in the day-to-day details and losing sight of overarching goals.

There is no room for micro-management in the life of a CEO at a start up or small business. It is essential to find the right people to fill roles in the company that are not part of your area of expertise and then delegate tasks. If you have no experience with payroll or social media, spending 20 hours a day getting up to speed is not an efficient use of your time as the head of the company. The business as a whole would be better served by finding someone with more experience to manage that task while you focus on others.

5. Being distracted by the latest trend.

Just because the business next door or your number one competitor was able to drastically increase sales by running a contest on social media or producing a viral video does not necessarily mean the same tactic will work for your organization. Once you have a strategy in place, stick with it for the period of time you planned from the beginning in order to accurately analyze if it was effective. Constantly starting over and pursuing a new avenue of sales, marketing, social media or any other daily operation will prevent you from ever gaining traction.

by John McGee
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