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Career Corner
Business Mistakes to Avoid

Sharon Housley -- Small businesses and entrepreneurs often repeat the same mistakes. If you are an entrepreneur, the following is a list of critical mistakes to avoid in your new venture.

1. Promising the world

Entrepreneurs will commonly make bold promises that are often impossible to actually deliver. It is important that you stay grounded in reality, and only agree to things that you know you can actually deliver.

2. Lack of discipline

Owning a business takes commitment and self-discipline. Since you are "the boss" you probably won't be disciplined for things like not showing up for work on time... but such things will have a negative impact on your business. It is important that entrepreneurs treat their business just like a real business, and not like a personal hobby. Act professional, charge for your services, and be accountable for the product or service provided. Self-discipline is critical to being self-employed.

3. Lack of focus

Remain focused on your core business philosophy, and don't attempt to be everything to everyone. Decide what your strengths and business focus are, and use that strength and focus to build the foundation for your core business.

4. Doing it all

While most small business owners are jacks-of-all-trades, it is important to know your limits. Do not try to do it all. In many situations, it is much better to hire someone or outsource a project than attempt to reinvent the wheel or do something yourself that you are simply not qualified to do.

5. Undervaluing product or service

Small businesses often make the mistake of undervaluing their product or service. If an item or service is priced too inexpensively, it may be viewed to be of inferior quality. Conduct a cost analysis, and consider split-testing to find the appropriate price point for your product or service.

6. Hiring family

It is natural for a small business owner to want to hire family members, but this is often a very costly mistake. If you do hire family members, be sure to make it clear from the beginning that business is business. Employment should not effect your personal relationships -- that is very easy to say, but unfortunately it often does effect your personal and family relationships. Additionally, other employees may resent favoritism paid to a family member who is given priority. And sadly, favoritism of a family member can often be perceived by other employees, even when it doesn't actually exist. Think long and hard before venturing down this path.

7. Copying the competition

Copying the competition is certainly far easier to do than creating something new. However, that does not mean that it is a good thing to do.

8. Tracking advertising

It is important to track and measure the success or failure of any advertising campaigns. If you do not track your advertising, you will not really know what works and what does not, and you could be throwing good money after bad.

9. Not having a plan

It is important that you have goals, and a plan for your business. Use the plan to guide the direction of your business.

10. Failure to invest

You have to spend money in order to make money. Many entrepreneurs fail to invest in their business, yet expect instant success. Building a business takes time, effort, and both a personal and a financial investment.

11. Inability To Adapt

Many small businesses change over the years. You must be willing to adapt to the changing needs of a business, and to the changing needs of your customers, in order to survive in the the business world.

Launching a business is an exciting and rewarding experience. Just be careful to avoid the above pitfalls on your way to success.

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll, software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds, and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll, audio recording and editing software.

© 2008 Sharon Housley

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