You’ve got the grit, the dreams, the hustle — but lately, things are starting to suck? A lot. No worries, we’ve all been there, me especially.
As a serial entrepreneur who has started a lot of small businesses online, I have failed and learned, a lot. I ran my first start-up company (Raise Your Text) to help improve school performance in developing countries, and I really wish I would have had a mentor in my back pocket guiding my entrepreneurial path, telling me what not to do and what don’ts to stop. Sadly I didn’t have such a mentor, and I can’t attribute the entire failure to this, but it definitely contributed.
To help you on your entrepreneurial journey, here are some “don’ts” that you need to stop to supercharge your business and path to becoming the ultimate entrepreneur.
#1 Don’t Be a Jack of All Trades
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can handle everything, from bookkeeping to marketing, in your business. After all, you’re the one with the vision, right? But here’s the cold, hard truth: no one is excellent at everything.
Trying to juggle all roles is going to lead to you dropping the ball. So, stop trying to wear all the hats and start identifying which tasks are in your wheelhouse and which ones you should delegate or outsource. If graphic design isn’t your strong suit, outsource it to a designer. Not a fan of numbers? Bring in a bookkeeper or accountant on a part-time basis to get you back on track. By focusing on your core strengths and outsourcing the rest, you’ll ensure that every aspect of your business gets the expertise it deserves.
#2 Don’t Ignore Social Media
In this digital age, not having a solid social media presence is like trying to win a race with your shoelaces tied together — it’s just not going to end well. Your potential customers are scrolling through Instagram, checking updates on Facebook, or tweeting on Twitter right this second. This isn’t just about posting pretty pictures or random updates, though. It’s about connecting with your audience, starting conversations, and building relationships.
Use these platforms to share your business’s story, showcase your products or services, and above all, provide value to your followers. Create engaging content, respond to comments, and use feedback to improve your offerings. Embrace social media and watch your customer base grow.
#3 Don’t Set Stupid (Non-SMART) Goals
“I want to grow my business” is a great ambition, but it’s not a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Without these, your goals are just vague aspirations. So instead of saying “I want to grow my business,” your SMART goal might be, “I want to increase my online sales by 20% in the next quarter.” This goal is specific (increase online sales), measurable (by 20%), achievable (assuming you have a plan), relevant (it’s about your business growth), and time-bound (in the next quarter).
Having SMART goals gives you a clear direction and a way to measure your success. When you hit those targets, the feeling of accomplishment will be a massive boost to your business morale. Measure your success by building a personal life dashboard where you can keep your goals set and in front of you.
#4 Don’t Overlook Customer Feedback
You might have the best product in the world, but if your customers don’t love it, you’re fighting a losing battle. Your customers’ thoughts, comments, reviews, and even their complaints are a gold mine of information. Paying attention to what they’re saying can help you improve your products or services, correct issues before they become bigger problems, and create a more customer-centric business. Plus, customers appreciate being heard, and incorporating their feedback can increase their loyalty to your brand. So open up those communication channels and start listening!
For example, in our outsourcing business, we kept hearing the same feedback that customers did not like paying a security deposit for our services. Quickly pivoting on this common feedback, we restructured our services so that we could still keep our services intact while reducing the initial investment done by customers.
Pivot fast based on common customer feedback, and you’ll start seeing better customer engagement and more sales.
#5 Don’t Neglect Your Team
You’re not running this show solo, and you cannot (unless you’re a freelancer). Your team is always your greatest asset, and without them, the dreams remain dreams. The question is, are you taking care of them? Are you investing in them and trusting their opinions?
Investing in your team isn’t just about salaries and benefits. It’s about creating a supportive, inspiring work environment where they can grow. It’s about recognizing their hard work and celebrating their successes. When your team feels valued, they’ll go the extra mile for your business. And that’s when the magic happens.
Frequently ask your teams for feedback on your performance and theirs too. Hold useful check-in meetings at a cadence where your team can actually benefit from the feedback they get. Do this, and your team’s success will grow alongside your business.
#6 Don’t Forget About Cash Flow
In business, cash is king. You can have a hefty order book, but if you’re not managing your cash flow, you might not survive to fill those orders. Remember, businesses don’t fail because of a lack of profits; they fail because they run out of cash. So, keep a keen eye on your cash flow, always knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out. Have a clear payment policy for your customers and manage your expenses smartly. Because the only thing worse than a cash crunch is a surprise cash crunch.
This was something I messed up on for my first start-up (Raise Your Text). We were running a pilot project in a developing country in a very bootstrapped way, but once our initial funding ran out, we didn’t have any funds or ways to continue. Had I done some initial revenue sourcing and investment outreach 6 months before this cash crunch, we probably wouldn’t have had to stop our services and put the start-up on ice.
#7 Don’t Fear Failure (Too Much)
No one likes to fail, but in the business world, failure can be your best teacher. Each failure brings you one step closer to success by showing you what doesn’t work. So don’t fear failure, embrace it! Experiment, take risks, and if you fail, learn from it and move on. Remember, the only real failure in business is the failure to try.
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve failed many many times. However, this hasn’t stopped me from starting new businesses and trying again! Failure is a learning tool, and I’ve learned so much about business and personal success from my failures, and I still learn every day.
#8 Don’t Ignore SEO
The online world is a crowded place, and if you’re not using SEO, you’re getting lost in the crowd. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is what helps your business get found when customers are searching online. It’s not just about ranking high on Google, it’s about reaching the right customers with the right message at the right time.
Start with learning about keywords, backlinks, and meta descriptions that you can use to optimize your website content. Or better yet, outsource this to an SEO expert to make your business go wild. When I created the SEO strategy for my uncle’s taxi business in Salt Lake City, they went from tens of visitors each day to hundreds in a matter of months.
#9 Don’t Neglect Self Investment
As the leader of your business, your personal growth directly impacts your business growth. So, investing in yourself isn’t just a good idea, it’s a business strategy. Attend seminars, take online courses, read books, join a networking group — whatever helps you learn and grow.
As you broaden your knowledge and skills, you’ll bring fresh ideas and perspectives to your business. You’ll be able to better understand new concepts like AI, stress reduction, entrepreneur operating systems, and much more to help you become a better person and better entrepreneur.
#10 Don’t Skip the Competition Check
Keeping an eye on your competition isn’t about copying what they do. It’s about understanding the market, identifying trends, and finding ways to differentiate your business. Look at what they’re doing well, where they’re falling short, and how customers are responding. Then, use that information to improve your own business. Remember, knowledge is power, and in business, it can be the key to staying one step ahead.
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