Starting a business is equal parts exhilaration and terror. The joy and satisfaction you get from creating products and services to help others are like nothing else. Likewise, the fear of failure and losing money is an equally powerful force most of us are also all too familiar with…
Although mistakes are par for the course when building a business, there’s no point reinventing the wheel. While we all learn from our experiences (good and bad), is there any reason we shouldn’t do what we can to avoid the most common mistakes made when starting a business?
Website designer, Belinda Owen, recently shared the top 3 mistakes to avoid when setting up your business as part of the #GuestSpeakerSeries in our Organic Digital Marketing group. An experienced WordPress web designer and trainer, Belinda helps female business owners and startups to create amazing websites to showcase their businesses and increase conversions.
Check out this epic #GuestSpeakerSeries session by joining our free Facebook group.
If you’re a new business owner, wondering why your website isn’t converting or thinking of creating a startup soon, this session is most definitely for you!
Why starting a business is so damn hard
Let’s start by getting cosy with some stats. In Australia, there are currently 2.5 million small businesses, representing 97.5% of all companies. Over the last year, the number of sole trader businesses increased by 9.9%, while businesses with up to 4 employees rose by 2.4% and businesses with 5 – 19 employees increased by 3.0%.
Those numbers tell us that lots of new businesses are coming to market – but are they all succeeding? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Up to 60% of small businesses fail within 3 years – that’s the cold hard reality. So, why is this figure so high?
You’ll know yourself how hard it is to create and sustain a business, but some of the most common challenges include:
- Lack of money/poor cash flow
- Needing to cover too many bases at once
- Poor/no prior market research
- No business plan
- Lack of strategic vision
- Growing too fast
- Not delegating tasks to others
- Lack of investment in the business.
Obviously, you want to be among the lucky 40% that make it beyond 3 years. To help you out, here are the top 3 mistakes to avoid when starting up your small business.
Mistake #1 – Not niching down
The single biggest mistake that so many businesses make is trying to be everything to everyone. When there are so many potential buyers out there for your product or service, the temptation to appeal to as many people as possible is strong.
Surely, making your brand as broad as possible will help you attract and reel in more customers? A bigger pool of buyers has to mean a bigger potential for profit – right?
Well, that’s not how it works. If you aim too big, you’ll dilute your message and lose relevancy. Trying to talk to more than one audience at once makes it harder to cut through.
Imagine you’re out fishing on a lake. The lake is teeming with fish and you anticipate coming home with a big haul. But, instead of bringing along the right bait, you cast out a variety of other bait. The fish are there but they are not interested, so they swim away and you head home empty-handed.
Now, replace the bait with your message. If you don’t have the right message for the right audience, you won’t be able to connect with them, let alone get them to make a purchase.
How to avoid this mistake
Identify your target audience from the outset by answering these questions:
- Who does your product or service suit best?
- Who can you help the most?
- Who do you want to target?
With this information, you can create a customer avatar or a persona. This describes the characteristics of your ideal customer – age, interests, occupation, family situation, income, pain points and aspirations. With a clear picture of your target market, it’s so much easier to create content and messaging that speaks directly to them, increasing your chances of conversion.
Get comfortable with moving on from someone who isn’t your target customer. For service-based businesses, saying no to work can be utterly terrifying. But, if you know you’re not the right fit, say so, before you get caught up in a bad situation.
Saying no to a prospect who isn’t the right fit will free you up to work with someone who is. If you’re unsure, look back at past projects to identify the ones where you felt happiest and most in control. This will give you a good feel for who you should be working with to help grow your business.
Mistake #2 – Competing on price
The second big mistake that new business owners make is racing to the bottom when it comes to price. In a competitive market, the easiest way to compare yourself to others is on price. But aiming to undercut everyone else will only make things harder for you.
If you feel you need to offer the cheapest price or the best package to get a foothold in your market, stop and take a breath. Cheapest is not always best. More importantly, being seen as cheap by your customers only invites them to undervalue your offering.
You’re in business to make a profit, right? Then competing on price is not the right way to go. All it will do is put your business in a death spiral and signal to the market that you really don’t value what you do.
How to avoid this mistake
Identify your true point of difference. While in some markets price can play a role (budget v luxury), there are other ways to set your business apart from the rest.
- Do you have amazing customer service?
- Do you provide more channels for support?
- Do you have a bigger range?
- Do you offer better warranties and guarantees?
- Do you deliver an unforgettable experience?
- Do you give your customers easier ways to purchase?
Once you know what truly sets you apart, you can build a brand that celebrates this difference and demonstrates the true value that you provide, without racing to the bottom on price.
Pricing is one of the hardest things to conquer, especially for service-based businesses without a physical product to sell. It’s easy for self-doubt to creep in and make you undervalue your true worth. One way to set a fair price is to reverse-engineer your costs and profit to come up with a suitable hourly rate for your services. This calculator will help.
You can also look at revamping your services to offer lower-cost options to meet the needs of your market. You may create DIY tutorials to help customers with tighter budgets. Or, offer a done-with-you service that takes advantage of your skills without undervaluing them.
Mistake #3 – Not building a website
Hands up if you’re currently relying on your Facebook or Instagram business accounts to attract and convert your customers. We get it. It’s an easy and free way to create an online presence and bring in the bucks.
Unfortunately, it’s not without its risks. For one, you’re doing business on borrowed land. You don’t own your social media assets. At any time, your account could be locked, suspended or even deleted. What happens then? How can you run a business without access to your account?
You also miss out on following up with your customers. There’s no way to collect email addresses or monitor buying habits. You have no control over the information you can include or the look of your site. And, you lose out on the benefits of SEO and organic marketing.
In this digital-first world, if people can’t find your website, you’ll lose out to competitors who do.
How to avoid this mistake
Work with a designer or have a go at DIYing your own website. If you can’t afford to engage a website developer, take advantage of a free website through Google as a starting point. As your business grows, you’ll be able to invest in a site that better reflects your business.
At a minimum, every website should include:
- Home page (the front door to your business)
- About page (include your story and picture to help connect with customers)
- Service or Shop page (to explain what you do – depending on whether you’re a service or product-based business)
- Contact page (guide customers towards a seamless experience)
Having a website that you own and control gives you the chance to build credibility and trust. It shows potential customers that you’re serious about things by investing in your business. Even better, it increases your online visibility by boosting your SEO and unlocking the power of organic marketing.
Starting a business and building a website can be overwhelming, so here are a few tips to help you stay cool, calm and collected:
- Social media is not always the best place to get your information. Look at other websites and talk to people IRL to stay grounded.
- Stay focused on what your business needs. You’ll be tempted by all the shiny new things going around but try to cut out white noise and limit confusion.
- Follow people you relate to, who share your values and who lift you up rather than drag you down. Limit where you get info to make it easier to uncover the gold.
- Try to stay away from making unnecessary comparisons. Learn to pay less attention to what others do and say. Run your own race and stay the course.
- Keep working on yourself, your processes and your products/services. The answer to any business challenge is usually found within your business, not outside of it.
Want to avoid these 3 common business mistakes?
When you break it down, all these mistakes can be avoided with a great website. While it might be tough to make such a significant investment in the early days of your business, there are other ways to achieve the same result.
Stop relying on paid advertising to bring traffic back to your website.
Our handy guide contains actionable tips you can implement so that you don’t have to rely solely on paid advertising. Download the Organic Marketing Essentials Workbook and enjoy!
How Naked Digital can set you up for success
Experts in website design and development, the team at Naked Digital is ready to set your new business up for success with a beautiful, fast and functional website. With a focus on SEO and organic marketing, we can increase the chances of your message getting to the right people to help you avoid disaster and become part of the 40% success club!
FREE BLOG CHECKLIST
Kirsty has put together a quick and easy go-to resource that sets out the main types of blog posts and how to write them. Download this resource for free, right now!