This week we are taking a look at both the higher level and lower level mistakes every new business makes. Our goal is to deconstruct these mistakes in order to present you actionable advice.
Through running I’ve conversed with many small to medium-sized business owners and from these discussions I started to notice that the mistakes voiced by individual business owners were the same, or similar in nature across. In this blog piece, I will be reviewing the five that Sean and I talk about in the podcast.
Mistake Number 1: Short-Term Thinking.
Short-term thinking is one of the most pervasive mistakes that I’ve seen in business. Most businesses start off small, likely as a one to two person operation, like Ghostit!
I’m also talking about real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and financial advisor type businesses. It is easy to view these types of businesses as a freelancing operation. From what I’ve seen, many of these businesses will almost never spend money on an investment that doesn’t look like it will pay for itself in a month or two. What these business owners don’t understand is that when you look at a return on investment, you should be looking at it over at least a
Small business owners are so afraid to lose a bit of cash in the short term that they never invest in the things that will pay off in the long term.
Let’s look at Sean and his company. If he ran every single pay per click campaign, and built all the websites for his clients himself, scaling up would be tremendously difficult.
Same goes for me and my company Ghostit. It would be impossible for me to write all of the content for every one of my clients. I could barely keep up with 5 clients. If I didn’t learn to delegate and be okay with spending money to hire, I would have never grown past being a small one-man operation. I understand that it’s hard to share, especially when you’re so used to doing everything yourself and getting paid for it. It’s also a risk.
When I begin a conversation with a business owner, one of the biggest red flags to me is when they don’t have a long-term business mindset. A lot of the time, the business owner will say:
I can probably do this myself,”
In response to a sales pitch. This is probably true. What Ghostit does isn’t rocket science. Will they be able to write content for themselves? Sure. Will they write consistently and will it be quality content all around? Probably not. Do
they know how to create a great content marketing strategy and write SEO optimized content? Not unless it’s their expertise.
For the most part, most b2b services being offered you can probably do yourself if you have the time and a mind to learn. But it’s not about whether or not you can do it. Choosing to focus on projects that you can outsource tells me
exactly how these business owners value their time.
Because we all know time is money right?
Instead of taking the time to developing something an expert can easily do, wouldn’t it be a better use of your time to invest in business growth? Don’t forget that you are the brains behind your operation, the key person to develop your business into a growing, sustainable operation. It astounds me the number of people who would rather spend 5 hours attempting DIY projects instead of paying the $100 for someone else to do it.
That money you’re saving isn’t worth the time you’ve spent because at the end of the day your time as the business owner is worth much more and continuing this mentality is never going to allow you to scale up.
Mistake Number 2: Not Taking the Time for Brand Building
It's very rare that you are the only one in your industry. Take Ghostit – there are dozens, probably hundreds of other content marketing companies out there. It is almost never the case that you are unique in the market space which means you have to stand out in some capacity.
This boils down to building your brand.
For example, we try and brand ourselves as fun, and not too serious but very good at what we do.
Take a look at our logo and you can see how we want others to perceive us.
Your brand can manifest as the style of posts that you post to, how often you're blogging, the type of copy that you're putting forward, etc. This matters tremendously in the long term because your brand will act as a
Any company can learn how to do what you do, so how do you create a barrier to entry in your industry and how do you protect your market share? There needs to be a reason consumers are choosing your business over all the other similar businesses. Recently there was which is a company that builds landing pages and enables small businesses to use these landing pages.
This company went from zero dollars of revenue to one hundred million dollars of revenue in three years. The interviewer asked “How do you stop all these cheaper players coming into the market. There are a ton of businesses that develop landing pages.
Russell explained that a movement was created around their business, which helped him to coin the term “Funnel Hacker.” He would legitimize this term by sending out a t-shirt with this coined term to each of his customers in an effort to build his brand recognition. And it worked. He built a landing page business in a sea full of other landing page businesses, but he emerged successful because he had a long-term vision. He scaled up and he built a rock-solid brand.
Mistake Number 3: Non-Mobile Friendly Website
This is low hanging fruit - easy to pick, easy to fix. Old websites were generally built for a desktop computers. You can know this because they never display properly on cell phones, on tablets, etc. This is common especially if you
have an established brick and mortar business for a long time, and you’re just starting to take advantage of having an online presence now.
Surprisingly, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. If you’re creating a website and you had to choose whether or not to optimize your site for desktop computer or for mobile – choose mobile!
What does making a website mobile device responsive mean? It means when you search the website up on your phone, the text, the images, the boxes, everything displays properly within the screen size. You're not having to scroll left and right just to read a bit of text. Not only does this make your business look inadequate, it tires the natural curiosity. The work that needs to be put in just to find out information is a turn off for people, and most of the time
people will leave within a minute because of an exhausted patience.
Mistake Number 4: It’s Hard to Buy/Sign-up From You
How long is the process to buy your services or goods from start to finish? This “time” has a huge impact on whether or not your business is going to take off or cost you lots of money over time. Convenience and simplicity are key. Take a look at Interact and their tap option. People love it because it cuts down their time to pay by more than half at the register.
A good rule of thumb is if you're on a website or if you're looking at your own website, you should be no more than one scroll or two clicks away from the sign-up, call to action or buy button.
Take a blog page for an example, so many businesses don't have a simple email collection box at the bottom, you’re losing out on valuable leads!
What was the point of the website in the first place? It was to get your business customers. Every page of the website needs to have a way to contact you that is one click away or less. Business owners often overestimate the attention span of people. People are not going to read every word on your website. They're going to spend ten seconds of their time before they leave.
Number 5 Mistake: Vague Website Copy
I have seen so many websites where the copy is just too vague. Software as a service businesses are especially guilty of this. They’ll say something like “We optimize your sales,” or “We’ll Improve X”. You read it, yet you don't
understand what it is they're actually doing.
Show your website to ten people. If they don't tell you exactly what you think you do, your website copy needs some work. Keep it simple. Don’t try and be fancy, and don’t try and use jargon if you aren’t selling a service to a specific
profession. People always try to make things more complicated than they are in order to sound more professional. Just don’t.
The Big Takeaway
is a combination of short-term thinking, not valuing your own time and not building your brand. At some point, you're going to have to grow from just a one or two-person team. You're going to have to think long term, and you're going to have to hire people to do tasks that normally you would do in order to have time to focus on building the brand, and a long-term strategy. Over the period of one, two, or three months, your financial statements might get a little worse for wear, but continue with the understanding that you will have to sacrifice now so that it will work out late.
We hope you take these mistakes to heart and truly work on correcting them. Good luck!
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