As a small business owner, everything you do must be intentional. Ensuring your business growth requires strategic planning and decision-making. Between growing my own business and mentoring entrepreneurs over the years, the following are lessons I’ve learned about avoiding certain mistakes and strategically building a brand.
Shying Away From Online Conversations
The world is going social. What’s your excuse for not lending your voice on social media? Clients (prospective and existing) want to see your personality shine through. I see a lot of brand social media that don’t have a unique voice or personality and that makes it hard for them to stand out from the pack.
Not only could it land you customers, but it adds a personal touch to your brand as well. Additionally, interacting with others and engaging in discussions is one sure-fire way to market your business without looking like you are only about the sales.
No Brand Vision
I understand that you feel you have a brilliant idea or a thriving company and that means you can enter the marketplace just like that. I personally won’t advise that. Instead, be clear and bold about where you want to take your business in the years to come. Create a brand vision board quarterly and get your team members to key into this vision as you work towards your monthly targets.
Walking With the Wrong Crowd
While you might see fellow business owners forming relationships with every Tom, Dick and Harry, it doesn’t mean that you should do the same.
Before forming a partnership or relationship with other people, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I believe in their business model?
- Do they share my values or beliefs?
- Does the partnership complement my products or services?
- Do I trust their services enough to refer my clients to them?
If the answer to these questions is no, then you’re probably wasting your time. The best partnerships will have you saying ‘yes’ across the board!
Relying On Trends To Make Decisions
Thanks to social media, it’s tempting to hop onto every bandwagon out there. After all, your brand must be part of the conversation, right?
My suggestion? Maybe you should. It depends on the scenario though.
The truth is: while there are various trends emerging daily, you need to be able to sift the wheat from the shaft and make decisions that are for your brand. For example, just because everyone is on Instagram doesn’t mean you should open an Instagram account for your business. Is this where your audience hangs out? Would Instagram accurately pass the message you’re trying to pass across?
Or let’s say that your business offers services such as content creation or copywriting. Just because other businesses in your niche are offering shout-out services or are offering coaching doesn’t mean that you should do the same. And even if you want to, you have to ask: do I genuinely care about boosting my clients’ business or would I rather be happy offering them content creation services?
Quick money doesn’t mean a long-term profit if you’re doing work you’re not passionate about. People would eventually know. Before you implement a new trend, ensure that it perfectly aligns with your brand’s vision and personality.
Not Letting Go of Old Methodologies/Tools
The business world is ever-changing. What worked successfully in 2016 might not bring results in 2019. Does your website need to be updated? Please update it. Do you need to update your software? You should.
If the assets you have/use no longer work, then it’s time to let them go and hire an expert to give your business the professional look it deserves. Sometimes, even your business model and marketing templates might need a boost. Don’t be afraid to try out something different, the results might just be worth it.
Hiring (too quickly) Without Strategy
Yay! Finally, you’re getting more clients and business is booming. The next step might be to expand your team. Don’t get drunk on your business’ success and hire without having a plan. Hiring on a whim can make you overspend and hire people who might not be able to deliver exceptional results.
So, before hiring your employees, ask yourself the following questions:
- What tasks take up most of my time?
- What’s the most important task to delegate right now?
- If I hire _____, what’s the ROI?
- How will the new hire help me afford to hire someone else in the next 3-6 months?
Asking these questions would give you guidelines to strategically ensure your business growth.
Compromising Your Brand’s Message
In the quest to make more money, many businesses compromise their brand’s message to attract other audiences. Even when other businesses do this, you must be true to yourself. Be true to your core personality and learn to be transparent. Whatever you do, stay true to your own values and inclinations. When people realise that you are making too many compromises, you will lose market confidence and customer’s trust.
Introducing Products or Services that Don’t Align with Your Brand.
How do you offer products or services that are a far cry from what you originally offer? If it’s not something you’re passionate about, don’t do it. However, if you’re passionate about it, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it worth creating a branch of your business that targets a totally new audience?
- If so, how do I communicate my message to this new target market?
- Would it be better to build a completely new brand for my new idea?
- Can the new services or offerings complement what I’ve already built?
Not Seeing The Big Picture
Preparing for the long-term can be difficult. To remain strong as your business grows, you have to ask yourself: where would I want my business to be in XYZ years? This links back directly to the point made earlier about brand vision. If you are unable to do this alone, it’s okay to ask for help or join business study groups that will challenge your imagination.
Not Having Clearly Defined Brand Standards
The biggest mistake you can make is not taking the time to clearly define your brand in the first place. What’s your brand premised upon? What did you build your brand around? Having a clearly defined standard helps decision making easier and helps hold you accountable. It also helps you seamlessly position your brand as an authority in your industry.
Have you made other mistakes in the course of doing your business? Share them with me.