“One thing is certain in Business, You and everyone around you will make mistakes.” – Richard Branson.
Mistakes. It’s a part of our lives. It teaches you to grow in maturity. Likewise in the business world, where learning from your business mistakes is crucial.
Entrepreneurial world is very exciting – yet not many are aware or fully acknowledges the setbacks from having such life. A frightening report found that 9 out of 10 businesses fail in its first 3 years alone. There is also enough evidence that suggests many businesses are out by the fifth year in the US alone.
While the numbers are quite overwhelming, it can also be considered as a relieve that the contributing factors of the majority of these failures have been determined as follow:
- No Business Plan
- Too Much Selling
- Not Focused On Core Activities
- No Soft Launch
- No Marketing/PR Stunt
- You Do Not Connect
- Lacks Storytelling
- You’re Only Open 9-5 PM
No Business Plan
DON’T: No direction of where the company will generally be in the next 5 or 10 years. No executive summary, financial structure/spending, marketing, customer acquisition etc.
DO: Like every life, without a direction – you will never know where you are heading. Similar to a business plan which often gets underestimated of its importance.
A business plan is crucial as it allows you to give greater perspective on your business and industry. It allows you to be able to pay attention not only at the big picture, but also to the slightest detail which will make your business a success or a failure.
Since writing about business plan takes pages and I have yet to write about this in depth, I’ll just point out an important reference related to the topic from my startup experience at Mirsky Mode which is the executive summary; an important section of your business plan allocated in the early pages of the plan. Click here to read more about it.
Too Much Selling
DON’T: Many online businesses are too eager to continue posting about their latest offers, products and discounts. This is not a big problem but try to diversify your content.
DO: Be more interactive with your market. Share with your audience on how your product/service will benefit them. Tell them that your company solves their problems. Connect with them. Present your content as relatable and interesting as you can.
Too focused on financial statements and not Competitive Advantages
DON’T: Letting financial budget dictating your company’s activities and competitiveness.
DO: It is a great idea to keep in mind about your company’s finances whenever you innovate. However, do not let it dictates your core-activities. Instead, let innovation be the focus of your company’s core objectives. Building your strategies to succeed should be your focus instead.
Once you’ve determined your core activities, start trimming the expenses in accordance to your budget. In this way, your company’s competitive advantages remain while other non-core business activities can be determined to be cut off to fit the financial budget.
No Soft Launch
DON’T: Your company jump straight into launching your business exposing yourself to quality issue, poor service and poor respond in customer service.
DO: Soft launch is an important part of launching a business successfully. Take for example of an alpha and beta launch. It is created to enable businesses (particularly online businesses) to detect and fix their business products and services prior to the official launch.
Another great reason for soft launch is your consumers will be your greatest asset at giving you feedback and suggestions without affecting customers’ satisfaction since it is still in trial period. It’s a huge win for your company.
No Marketing/PR Stunt
DON’T: No guerrilla marketing/PR stunt when you roll out your business to the market. Gone are the days of typical marketing content which you post daily and expect people to connect with your business. Won’t happen.
DO: Marketing or PR stunt is a must to separate yourself from competition. It is where you help your consumers to visualize how you are separated from your competition. While some may call it a gimmick, it is considered a tactic to make your brand memorable. Even successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson does it by rolling a World War 2 Sherman Tank along Fifth Avenue when released Virgin Cola, so whose to say that marketing gimmick is a bad thing. Read here to find out more about his explosive stunts which Mr Branson is well known for.
Here’s a list of other things you should consider running for your business:
- Your business needs to be more interactive: Create online contests etc.,
- Adopt guerrilla marketing,
- More effort on video marketing and
- Create great & interactive content
You Do Not Connect
DON’T: Some businesses tend to be terrible at connecting with people. They are more focused on making profit rather than connecting with people. Yes, there’s a chance you will make profit but not in the long run.
DO: Connect with your customers to ensure great customer retention and referrals – which should be among your top business objectives. Communication is vital. Start building relationship with your consumers by becoming emotionally connected with them. Get to know them, understand their issues and work your way into the conversation how your product/service fixes those problems. Selling should be your second priority in connecting with your online customers. Be trustworthy and reliable.
DON’T: Stop updating your online platforms using same images and caption continuously. Becoming repetitive on your online platforms would make your customers to leave your business as they feel you are no longer providing any value to them.
DO: Instead, become present and let your market know how your business solves their problems. Always serve your online customers by educating them, or add further value to them (e.g. Discounts, Free Trial, Free Item etc).
DON’T: You continuously post updates and images which lack stories. Consumers need to be emotionally connected these days. They don’t easily fall for knock down prices as there are plenty other businesses which offer similarly. You need to tell them stories which they can relate to.
DO: Be a story teller. Be an expert and demonstrate how your products solve your market problems. Give your consumers reasons to buy your product.
You Only Open 9-5 PM
DON’T: Majority entrepreneurs believe starting own business is an escape from their 9-5pm job. Little did they know that building a startup adds more responsibilities to you. You will need to start worrying about meeting sales target, hiring and paying employees, legal issues, rental payment, bills and so much more. It’s a whole different game.
Customers browse through your business whenever they have the time to spare – which at most of the time will be after working hours till night. How are you able to provide high quality customer service if you are open when they are not browsing your online pages? Letting your customers wait for an hour or two is fine, but if you make them wait till next morning, they might have lost interest in you.
DO: While you can’t have your employees stretched to work the night shifts (considered illegal in advanced nations), apply employee rotational shift instead. Keep your staff at minimal during night shifts since lesser business activities occur during those hours.
If your full time employees are not interested in the rotational night shifts, you can always hire part-time employees to just monitor the online chats, emails and social media pages when your customers asking for details on your product/service.
By reducing the amount of reply time, your interested consumers won’t lose interest in your product after having their answers attended to in time.
Final Two Cent
In short, my own personal experiences have taught me the importance of a business plan which encapsulates the important details of your business ranging from your business daily operations, strategic decisions, marketing & sales, human resource to finances. It goes without saying that every plan will not go as exactly, but having a little direction for your business helps – and that’s where your business plan plays a key role. Access an example to my business plan for my former startup Mirsky Mode here.
What do you guys think? I am aware there are more contributing factors to business failures, which you can read on your own. However, what I’m sharing here is based on my own personal experience – which I believe aligned with my blog’s catchy phrase ‘Honest resource for you and your business.’