How many times have you heard, "If you're not making any mistakes, you're not trying hard enough"?
That statement may be true, but the process of trying hard and being successful has to include correcting those mistakes, learning from them and avoiding the same mistakes in the future. This gets harder when you've been making the same mistake for so long that it has become a habit.
A new year means gaining new perspective. Let's create some positive change in your business by putting an end to the all-too-common business mistakes you may not even know you're making.
1. Not Tracking Minor Expenses
The scale of business expenses—even for a small shop—makes it easy to ignore $10 here and $5 there. Those small expenses add up quickly, especially in expense accounts, consumables, office supplies and the details of your taxes. Resolve this year to track those small expenditures as carefully as you do your largest orders.
2. Keeping Secrets
Some proprietary details are important to keep close to your vest, but surprisingly little information falls into that category. For the most part, keeping your staff, suppliers and clients in the loop buys you more grace than grief—especially when you use social media or SMS broadcasts to build loyalty through inside insights. For 2014, take a close look at what you're keeping from your people and reconsider if those secrets really need to be secrets.
3. Putting Off Hiring New Staff
Chances are, you're short on staff because you don't have the budget to hire all the people you need. This leaves you picking up all the dropped balls, and never making any progress on growing the business so you have enough money to hire all the staff you need. This year, take a risk by hiring one more part-time employee or contractor to cover that one job that takes up too much of your time. Watch how those extra free hours for you become profits that more than cover the cost.
4. Neglecting The Numbers
How much money did your company make today? This week? How much did it cost to make that money? What are your sales statistics like? What percentage return did you get from your last print ad? Running a business without reviewing your relevant statistics is like performing a physical without checking someone's pulse, temperature and blood pressure. Promise yourself you won't leave the office each day without knowing your key figures.
5. Not Making Your Staff Accountable
Do you delegate your tasks to trusted staff? If so, congratulations! If you don't, you're likely repeatedly disappointed with staff performance. Sound familiar? Spend time this quarter to identify key metrics for your people, and a few hours during the rest of the year to gauge their performance against those metrics.
6. Being Too Risk-Averse
Most small businesses operate on a narrow margin, which can make you more averse to risk than is healthy for your business. Unlike the other entries on this list, there's no simple action to take that fixes this mistake. Instead, you need to adjust your attitude toward risk. Businesses that risk nothing don't grow. The good news is that you've already taken the biggest risk of your career—starting a small business. Everything else you do, though it may seem scary, is a minor risk in comparison.
On the positive side, what are the good habits you hope to expand on and leverage in 2014? Tell the community about your greatest successes and proudest moments, and how you plan to make the most of them in the coming year.
Jason has contributed over 2,000 blog and magazine articles to publications local, regional and national. He speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at his website.
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