I have worked with – and interacted with even more – small businesses over my consulting career. Often, I am inspired, impressed and occasionally totally blown away by the talent of many of the small businesses and their owners. These professionals and work-a-day folks alike are all trying to live their dream, make a living, compete on their own or build a company out of a hobby or skill they have seen in themselves and enjoy.
I’d like to talk today about the businesses and business owners that do not fit into this group. Today I’d like to talk about the business owners that I have seen, met and worked with that are small for a reason. Perhaps they are small for many reasons.
Let’s not ruminate today on specific businesses, business owners or examples. Let’s try and learn something from our experiences and observations, so that the business owners and professionals out there trying to survive, grow and build lasting businesses and companies can learn from – and hopefully avoid – some prevailing mistakes made by small business owners.
Briefly, here are some of our top observations preventing small business owners from successfully building larger businesses:
1. Failure to understand the selling process, and prepare for the selling cycle.
2. Not understanding the importance of the lifetime value of a customer.
3. Allowing ego to override requirements of bringing onboard talented help (whether full-time, part-time or outside consulting services).
4. Allowing ego also to prevent business owner from seeking help, in new ideas, capital, etc.
5. Negligence in defining and communicating a clear vision and purpose for the organization and its employees.
6. Ill-defined target customers
7. Failure to follow through on efforts to build and promote their brand effectively at all times.
I’ll come back to explaining my thinking in future blog posts, however, I will make the following comments.
It is surprising how business owners who are staking their livelihoods, careers and sometimes their dreams on their businesses fail to follow through on building up the brand of their business. This is often true even for experienced business owners, and it is often clear to even the business owner themselves.
In fact, if there was a court of law for small business owners where observers could walk in and tell a judge that the business owner knows or has an idea what to do, but that they are not doing it and know it, we’d have business owners being convicted of negligence.
Now I am not talking about legality here. I am talking about just plain failure to act on what is known – or good ideas that you are aware of – in detriment to your own business. I’m clearly stretching and distorting the term negligence here, but it is congruent enough to meet our needs in this situation.
Don’t be negligent with your business. Act on what you know and see and hear and learn.
Perhaps we will single out some particularly horrific examples of grossly negligent business owners as case studies in future posts.
In the meantime, thank you for your continued interest and support.