Four Common Mistakes for Small Business Owners to Avoid

Operating a small business can lead to a number of headaches, and while I can’t offer you a bottle of Excedrin, I can help with some of the root causes of some of those headaches. We work with clients of all sizes, from large corporations to small local businesses and there are a few fairly routine lessons we have seen pop-up more than once.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that “activity breeds activity”, and that well guided energy and effort will lead to business growth.  Sometimes it means forming strategic partnerships that will pay off.  Sometimes it means investing into a part of your business that you want to grow.  But, sometimes we can think, “something is better than nothing” or “I know I don’t have a plan, but let’s see what happens.”  It is those occasions that create the following common mistakes that small business owners make.


1. Stale e-marketing As a business owner, your email list is valuable, and if used correctly, it can generate a lot of business.  Sometimes we gather emails addresses from our clients and customers and never use them, even though we know that a well executed email marketing campaign could stir up new business with a very high ROI.  I’m sure you have received a “boxed and canned” e-blast from a local business that has very little value to you as the customer.  General do’s and don’ts: Do use your email list for promotions, special announcements and exciting giveaways.  Don’t use your email list to send out manufactured articles or use a service that sends out scheduled emails that don’t personally engage your customers.  People know the difference and you only get one chance before most customers will forever send your emails to spam.  As you grow your list, you may want to consider custom HTML coded emails that will have your potential customers looking forward to every email your business sends. 2. Misuse of the “Daily Deal” Many small business owners have used groupon, living social, kgb deals, signonsandiego, the daily save, the goods (I could go on and on) – to promote their business.  There are horror stories and success stories out there, and many business owners are reluctant to use these daily deal sites.  One very important note, with so many competing sites, you as the business owner hold the power.  Many sites will work with your business to protect you – by limiting the number of deals that can be purchased, by asking for a 60/40 split rather than a 50/50 split in the revenue, and even by limiting the products or services that people can purchase.  These limitations will help you to craft a deal that protects your business so that you are not drowned in deals.  A lot of our clients have been very successful using these daily deal sites, but the better your plan to handle the influx, the happier you will be with the outcome. 3. Mis-engaging Your Community Another very common mistake, as touched on in the email marketing section.  Customers want to be engaged, they want to interact and get value from your social networking.  Certain brands take different slants.  Take a look at Skittles on Facebook – they do an excellent job of branding their fan page culture and cultivating a following.  Most businesses don’t have the luxury of being able to use that much humor – but never the less, Facebook and twitter should be used to add value to your clients and customer’s day.  Posting article after article, or simple self promotions is a great way to have your page “hid” or unliked very quickly.  Photos are great to post because they rank high in the newsfeed and catch attention.  Even quotes are good, because they add value to someone’s day.  Posting something like, “It is a great time to buy from me”, is redundant and turns customers off to your brand. 4. Not seeking out referrals There are so many aspects that go into branding projects – from copy writing to design work, web coding, search engine optimization, videography, photography, products, applications and much more.  As much as we all love artistic and creative people, it can sometimes be hard to find vendors that move at the velocity that small business owners need.  I can’t count the number of times I hear from a small business owner after they have spun their wheels trying to get something done for their business – with deadlines being missed as well as opportunities.  Small business owners are keenly aware that time = money.  My number one piece of advice to any small business owner is to spend the time to seek out referrals.  An example of a common pitfall is that we can view someone’s portfolio, be impressed, and decide to hire them.  What that portfolio doesn’t tell you is whether that project was done on-time, on-budget and with clear communication and expectations.  Take the time to ask around and get feedback from people you trust.  If you like someone’s portfolio, call and find out what that business owner’s experience was with that company.  It will save you from countless headaches. Our Raindrop Marketing team would be happy to help your business avoid these mistakes by coming up with a plan designed for your business.