Trying to Do It All
The greatest mistake entrepreneurs make is to believe they can do it all by themselves. While an entrepreneur can do almost everything, they do almost everything poorly. Just like any other person, an entrepreneur has one or two natural talents. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to identify those talents and focus on them to your fullest. Surround yourself with people who are strong where your talents are weakest. Great companies are built on the foundation of exploiting a few strengths, not on trying to be masters of everything.
Having No Clear Marketing Strategy
You never know where, when, or how a new prospect is going to hear of your business. If you have a mix of messages out there, the prospects will have an unclear expectation of what your business can offer. Your company must present a consistent, clear message on all fronts. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure every new prospect who sees your business for the first time receives the same, consistent message.
Not Being Forthright
The days of cover-ups died with former-President Bill Clinton's denial of sexual relations with “that woman.” The anonymous nature and grand size of the Internet allows people to share anything with anyone at anytime. If your business tries to cover up a mistake, it is just a matter of time before word leaks and you are labeled a liar. That's not good for business. Be the one to break your own bad news, and you will be perceived as honest and trustworthy.
Often, the first thing entrepreneurs resort to when business is tough is to try differentiating on price. Cheaper prices mean more customers, right? Wrong! Most customers are willing to buy more expensive items because of the greater quality or the added convenience. During tough economic times, an increase in price, coupled with improvements in quality or convenience, can drive customers to your door. Price slashing is a dangerous game, which could lead to slashing employees or salaries to keep costs down.
Setting Unrealistic Financial Goals
If all business plans came true, being a billionaire would be nothing extraordinary. Many entrepreneurs go into new ventures planning astronomical returns. Yet most never even get the business off the ground. Unrealistic goals not only hurt your credibility, but can also be an emotional drain. Set specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time specific (or SMART) goals to ensure continual progress. If you do this, your chances of being an overnight success (in 15 to 20 years) are much greater!
Assuming You Have No Competition
Even if you have the latest, greatest, never-been-done-before approach to something, don't assume that you have no competition. Competition is more than just the direct, obvious competitors. Competition is also all the available alternatives. What else could the consumer do instead of using your product or service? Could they do nothing? The customer almost always has the option of walking away. That alone is a serious competitive threat.
Having No ‘Rallying Point’
There is a reason why employees leave high-paying corporate jobs to go to start-ups, and it's not for the money. People are driven to serve an important purpose, in addition to getting a paycheck. Many businesses never define their real purpose for existence, and continually attract a mix of employees who are seeking success in different ways. Clarify the purpose of your company, beyond just making money, and you set the stage for attracting like-minded employees. A team focused on the same goal is a very powerful force.
Being All Business, All the Time
Many entrepreneurs put their personal lives on hold to focus exclusively on their businesses. Ultimately, both suffer. There is no question your business needs your full attention and effort, but only in short spurts. Just like an elite athlete in training, you need to have a proper, healthy diet, get enough rest, and take breaks. Balance your personal and business life, and you will actually do better in both.
Being a Weak Leader
The success of your company is contingent on you being a strong, effective leader. This does not mean you need to be an authoritarian, but you also shouldn't be everyone's buddy. A great leader sets the course for the company, communicates it constantly, and inspires the team to get to the next level.
Trying to Get Rich Quick
Overnight success usually takes 15 to 20 years to achieve. If you go in expecting to be rich overnight, you may become discouraged early on and give up your dream prematurely. Know that success takes time, perseverance, and a little bit of luck. Give your business the time to grow. Only if your company is stagnant for a long time should you take it as an indication that you need to try something new.
Hiring employees is one of the most effective to grow a small business. A larger staff will enable you to serve more customers, serve all customers better, and potentially expand into new product lines and markets. But hiring can also be difficult, especially for small business owners who are just starting out and may not have experience finding, interviewing, and selecting candidates. Hiring also costs both time and money, neither of which small business owners have to spare.
To make the hiring process as smooth and painless as possible, follow the best practices below.
Write a clear and comprehensive job description
Whatever the size of your business, and whatever position you are hiring for, it’s important to write a thorough job description. This is not just a way to get higher quality applicants, but also a way for you to clarify in your mind what exactly you will want the new employee to do, which will help you conduct better interviews and make better decisions. A great job description includes the roles and responsibilities of the position, the knowledge and skills required, and the characteristics you are looking for in an employee.
Set a hiring schedule
Owners and employees of small businesses often have a lot on their plates and are juggling many roles. If this is the case, you might have difficulty finding the time to hire someone. Set a reasonable deadline for when you would like the new employee to start and then work backward to create a schedule, setting aside time for interviews and so on. You might not always be able to find the right person by the deadline, but at least having a schedule will keep you on task with your hiring activities.
Look for candidates in the right places
On average, job postings get more than 250 applicants. As a small business owner, there is no way you have the time to do justice to that many applications, especially since most of them will probably not be great matches for your company anyway.
Instead, target your recruiting efforts in the same way you target your marketing campaigns. Think about your own professional (and personal) networks—what connections do you have already that you can plumb for possible candidates? LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media are also great places to advertise open positions to your networks. What about local interest groups—are there any meet-ups for people with the skills you are looking for? Especially if you are hiring for a tech position, the answer is very likely “yes.”
Focus on company culture
Having employees that fit with your company values and culture is essential both for harmony and productivity at the workplace and for the image they will project to the outside world. Unless the position requires highly specialized knowledge or skills that can’t be learned (which isn’t likely—all skills can be learned through proper training), put top priority on finding someone who shares your values and meshes well with the current or the desired company culture.
Implement a trial period
A lot of time, money, and energy goes into hiring new employees, so you want to make sure that you are making the best decision from the start. Considering hiring promising applicants as contract workers for a short-term assignment first so you can assess them before you decide to bring them on for a permanent position. When proposing a trial period to a candidate, pitch it as a way for the candidate to evaluate your company before making a firm commitment.
Hiring for small businesses doesn’t need to be a frustrating process. Taking the time to clearly define your expectations and to find the perfect person for the job will reward you many times over in helping your company grow.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
Whether in business or life, we often walk a fine line between success and failure. Booker T. Washington’s quote highlights the inevitability of challenges on the path to success. In fact, I firmly believe success and failure go hand in hand. If you’re hoping to succeed, you’ve got to fail or learn from those who have.
This is due to the fact that successful individuals aren’t just born there’s a lot more that goes into the equation. Through my experience, I’ve found those who are highly successful have a lot more in common than we may think.
On the hunt for success? Here are some habits to take note of:
Boldly fail. Failure can and will happen, regardless of how incredible your work ethic is. The most successful people understand the reality of failure and its importance in finding success. While you may want to run and hide after you fail, but you must learn from your mistakes to ensure you don’t fail in the same way the second time around.
Set goals. Those who are successful set daily achievable goals. Find success by solidifying goals that are S.M.A.R.T. — smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. Get rid of long-term goals and establish small daily goals to achieve your vision more easily.
It’s not always about luck. It’s all too easy to chalk up success to being in the right place at the right time. While this certainly is an element of success, you can’t forget the crucial involvement of blood, sweat, and tears. Don’t hold yourself back by waiting for the perfect timing or idea. Some of the most successful people got there by hitting the ground running, even if timing wasn’t perfect.
Carefully track your progress. Often, success comes down to keeping your eye on the prize while regularly monitoring behaviors, strategies, and tactics. You can’t make adjustments if you don’t know how you’re doing. Be sure to hold yourself accountable by checking your progress as often as possible and getting feedback when it’s due.
Don’t wait to act. Successful people don’t always know the right answer, but they keep moving anyway. Taking action will lead to answers, so don’t let obstacles stall you when you’re searching for the right solution.
Connect the dots. Those who are successful have the ability to see the greater picture. Look at things in a “past, present, and future” context to receive favorable results.
Harness your confidence. You’ve got to truly believe in your abilities. Assess yourself to gain a clear understanding of what you are able to accomplish, and use this as fuel to light your own fire.
Commit. Success doesn’t come without effort. The most successful individuals are often the most committed to what they’re working toward. Go the extra mile every day and make no exceptions.
Be alert. Awareness breeds success. If you’re not keyed in to your environment, you’re sure to miss opportunities. Listen to what’s being said about your company, constantly hone feedback, and keep your eyes and ears on your entire industry.
Persevere. Truly successful people never give up. Do they ever fail? Yes. But as times get hard, their stamina to move forward doesn’t wane. Develop a willingness to work through the challenges you encounter along the way.
Communicate like a pro. Those who are successful have an ease for convincing others. They don’t manipulate or pressure but logically explain the benefits. Communicating with confidence will allow you to more easily negotiate your visions.
Display humility. Success doesn’t have to come with an ego. In fact, many successful people don’t have one. This is because they understand that while extraneous factors come into play, some failure can be chalked up to their own shortcomings. Never forget to hold yourself accountable for every aspect of your life. This is how you’ll remain focused and humble.
Make these habits second nature, and success will be certain to follow.
Welcome To The...