There are a lot of ‘advisers’ out there telling small business owners how to be successful. But what about the habits and practices to avoid?
To join the league of successful businesses, you need to create sustainable practices that allow you to create long-term growth. But many business owners have fallen victim to their own bad habits.
Here are some business practices to avoid if you want to build a successful business:
Breaking the Law
There are several laws guiding businesses in Nigeria. From Export to import to manufacturing, to education and so on. There are tax laws, and operational laws that are in the legal framework of setting and operating a business in Nigeria. SMEs should always try to operate within the law. But many try to cut corners and end up paying the price, either by losing customers, paying fines or even serving jail time.
No Business Plan
Small businesses need at least a general plan to operate. What are your goals? What is your business structure? How do you plan on attempting to achieve those goals? You can always make adjustments as you go. But simply going with the flow will likely leave you off-track and disorganized.
Once you have a plan, you should leave just a little room for adjustments along the way. You will likely learn new information or find out what tactics work better than others. So don’t just stick with something based on some ideology that perhaps have since been proven wrong.
About 90 percent of small businesses try to handle all of their departmental functions in-house- such as marketing, recruitment, procurement, etc. Industry leaders believe though, that this tactic can spread small businesses too thin and harm the effectiveness of their efforts. Even if you don’t want to spend the money on hiring or outsourcing, you can often bring in a lot more if you do so intentionally.
However, if you’re going to hire or outsource, you need to make sure it is going to actually help your business. Do you have the extra money to pay a team or a consultant? What will they provide for you that you cannot accomplish on your own? How will their contributions affect your bottom line? You should be able to answer these questions before bringing on new team members or consultants.
Micromanaging Your Team
Once you have a team, you should be able to trust them to do their jobs. That is why a good hiring process is so important. If you try to do everything for them or change their work, they will end up dissatisfied and you will not even save any time in running your business.
Focus Only on Your Own Business
Lots of business owners tend to keep blinders on and focus only on their own work. While it is good to be focused, you still need to keep an eye on the landscape of your industry and your competition. There may be new trends or initiatives out there that impact your operations.
However, caution and wisdom is to be applied when trying out new trends. Research and ensure that it has worked for a competitor with similar business model as yours or take the risk but on a disposable budget.
Tell Customers Whatever They Want to Hear
Businesses always want to deliver positive messages to customers. But if you are saying something that is not true, your customers will eventually find out. And they will likely be more angry than they would have been if you were just honest upfront.
Endlessly Promote Your Products
You have to promote your products or services sometimes if you want to build a successful business. But if that is all you ever do on platforms like social media, customers will get disengaged and think of you as desperate and ‘no value adder’. You can make more of an impact by providing actual value and mixing in a few promotional posts.
Make It Difficult for Customers to Contact You
You might not want to be constantly bombarded by phone calls, emails or physical meet up requests, but you need to have some options for customers to get ahold of you if they have questions. This can help them feel more comfortable about purchasing and help you respond to any issues they might have.
Mark Up Products Unnecessarily High
Some markups are necessary in order to run a profitable business. But if you take advantage of customers in vulnerable positions or take part in practices like profiteering, people will notice and competition will take advantage of that and run you aground.
Sell Products Before They are Ready
It is true that you might tweak products here and there through the years. But you should do at least some testing for your items before bringing them to market. At the very least, make sure they are safe and able to live up to any claims you have made. If not, you could be open to liability issues.
No Background Checks on Vendors
The suppliers and vendors you do business with can make a major impact on your success. Not only do you need to make sure that they are providing quality products and services at fair prices, but you should also make sure that their business practices are ethical and safe. Otherwise, your business could be pulled into a controversy.
Irresponsible with Sensitive Data
By 2021, it’s estimated that cyber crime will cost the world more than $6 trillion. For a small business, even a very small fraction of that to make up for lost customers and data recovery can be devastating. Not to mention, customers don’t want to hand their personal information over to companies they cannot trust.
Defame Your Competition
In some cases, it might be beneficial for you to position your products or services against that of your competition. But you should avoid making refutable claims about competitors, as it could open your business up to legal issues and give off a a desperate, petty image to a prospective customer.
As a business owner, you should always be listening for good ideas from those around you. Do not assume that what you have to say is more important. And do not be rude to others, or they won’t be likely to share valuable insights with you in the future.
Similarly, you should always value the time of those around you, including clients, vendors, partners, and employees. If you schedule a meeting or event for a specific time, honor your commitments. And those around you will be more likely to do the same for you.
Only Focus on the Bottom Line
Small businesses have to constantly be concerned about finances. But sometimes, spending a little money can be beneficial. Don’t hold onto your income so tightly that you stifle chances for growth.
Completely Ignore the Bottom Line
You cannot hope to keep your business up and running if you do not have any money coming in. In fact, 82 percent of businesses that fail, do so because of cash flow problems. So while you should not necessarily cut every little thing just to line your pockets more, you do need to keep an eye on the books and make necessary cuts every now and then.
Expect Your Employees to Live Up to Unreasonable Standards
Your team is ultimately a reflection of you. You should want them to work hard and show dedication. But do not expect them to do anything that you are not willing to do yourself. Lead by example instead of making constant demands.
However, you also need to hold people accountable to some standards. If your requests and goals are reasonable, you should have a system for tracking employee productivity as well as incentives and disincentives for meeting or not meeting those goals.
Cover Up Errors
All small business owners make mistakes. When this happens, own up to it. People will respect you more than they would if you try to cover it up and get exposed later on.
Also, you should take accountability for your part in any errors. Ultimately, you can learn from these issues. So it’s not about playing the blame game. But you should make sure everyone understands what went wrong and why so you can fix it going forward.
Quit When The Going Gets Tough
Lots of things will go wrong over the course of running your business. If you decide to cut your losses at the first sign of trouble, you will never make it. Instead, have contingency plans and be willing to pivot if necessary.