By Ankit Agarwal
For many new entrepreneurs, starting a small business is an intimidating, yet an exciting experience. If handled meticulously, it can also be financially rewarding.
Some business owners, however, can get a tad carried away when opening a new company, and get so caught up with getting it off the ground, that they lose sight of some of the basic considerations. These considerations can be extremely crucial and have a major impact on the future value of the company.
Here are six common mistakes that small business owners make, which eventually end up hurting their success.
1. Thinking Short Term
Once you become an entrepreneur, there will be times when you will be tempted to throw caution to the wind and make decisions that will allow you to save money in the short time. However, as an entrepreneur, you need to think about the long-term goals and sustaining the growth of the company. Doing so will add value to your company in the future because, all other factors remaining constant, businesses with low or no income are valued much lower than those making huge profits.
2. Not Having Things in Black and White
This particularly holds true when a new entrepreneur starts his business with a family member, relative, friend, or anyone who acts as a partner in the firm. In such a case, it is imperative to protect your business interests with an enforceable partnership agreement.
While you and your business partner may be enthusiastic and motivated in the initial stage of the project, disagreements can rear their ugly heads if the company hits a rough patch. This can also happen when the going is good. For example, one of the partners may want to retire or sell off his stake in the business. It is, therefore, vital to have a clear partnership agreement detailing how the respective ownership interests will be divided, in the form of a written legal document which all partners should be bound with. No verbal agreements!
3. Undermining Your Responsibilities
Some small business owners forget to take into account the various business obligations that come with starting a new venture. You will invariably have to take on certain responsibilities that can have crucial bearings on your business and its activities. These obligations include, but aren’t limited to, personal guarantees, leases, and contracts, which may adversely impact the value of your company in the long term.
4. Underestimating Your Financial Needs
Business owners are always in need of capital for meeting operational expenditures such as paying employees, suppliers, overheads, as well as maintaining reserves for projected growth. While such scenarios are bound to keep increasing the requirement for funds, it is important that entrepreneurs do not lose sight of the bigger picture. They should avoid giving into unreasonable demands from money lenders and/or investors that could potentially burden the company with repayment of high interest rates and debt, or hand them significant ownership control.
Developing a realistic business plan as well as concentrating on making trustworthy business relationships with lenders and investors will go a long way in helping you avoid financial mistakes altogether.
5. Not Knowing Your Market
Growth comes only to those who’re fully aware of and in total control of what they’re doing. This includes gaining an in-depth knowledge of the industry and the market you’re operating in. This knowledge should help you determine who your competitors are and estimate their ability to capture the market share.
It can be extremely difficult for small companies to align their best business ideas with their long-term well being without the basic understanding of the market. You may take growing too fast to be a positive indicator, without contemplating that it can also lead to burdensome overhead costs, which can ultimately result in bankruptcy.
6. Discounting Your Customers
You may have some of the best business ideas and strategies in mind, but all that is of little or no consequence if you do not have customers to lap up your products and services. You can expect only disaster to occur if you’re overlooking your customers, their needs, and their feedback. This will take a toll on your startup sooner or later.
What you should do is always keep your ears open for what your customers have to say. You never know, they may just surprise you or open your eyes with their remarks.
You can considerably increase the chances of the success of your small business if you can just steer clear of the above mistakes. Of course, these are only a few and there are bound to be several other issues that you will need to deal with from time to time. However, an astute and resourceful entrepreneur should have no trouble tackling them and staying ahead of the curve.