Ten Common Errors That Can Be Fatal for a Small Business

Saying that starting a business is hard is an understatement. There are plenty of things to think about, processes that need to be ironed out, tools that need to be bought-the list edges toward infinity. Not to mention the need to make the right move constantly, or one risks falling back before they’ve even begun.

But it’s also the challenge that makes it incredibly rewarding. And for an entrepreneur looking to ensure the success of his or her small business, there’s no wiser source of wisdom than learning from the mistakes of others.

By knowing what doesn’t work, you can dedicate more of your time innovating strategies that do.

Let’s look at these most common small business errors.

Not Planning Right

One of the most common faults of businesses is lacking focus-not knowing what they really want to do and how they intend to get there. All these should be drafted in the planning stage, where you set the goals on which you will base all your future decisions.

Not Taking Full Advantage of Technology

Technology simplifies business processes, is cheaper, and produces fast results. Not investing in tech-whether it’s because you’re afraid of novelty or are hesitant to spend-will do your business more harm than good in the long run. In fact, it’s imperative to invest in the right communication and management tools, especially if you’re hiring remote staff.

Failing to Market Properly

No matter how good your products or services are, if you don’t know how to sell them right, you’re missing a lot of opportunities for growth. Don’t let all that effort go to waste. Invest in a talented team of marketing professionals who know how to get your brand out there.

Failing to Put Money in the Right Place

When you’re just starting, you have to be very careful with where to put your capital. That means every investment must be thoroughly studied. You don’t have to buy the best equipment if there are cheaper alternatives. Conversely, you shouldn’t limit your business, too, by refusing to spend on anything at all.

Not Knowing Your Market

The secret to successfully selling something is proper targeting. If you don’t know who your customers are, you’d be all over the place, and that confuses people regarding what your brand really is about. Create a customer persona. This will help you focus your resources on the right marketing strategies.

Avoiding Risks

Resilience is one of the best qualities of a good entrepreneur. The business landscape is continuously shifting, demanding you to reinvent yourself consistently in the process or adapt to allow you to ride through the changing waves. Being intractable is one surefire way to spiral down to failure.

Not Partnering with the Right People

Your business partner and your staff will be directly involved in deciding the future course of your business, so see to it that you get the right individuals on board, whether that entails imposing strict preemployment drug testing or outing your family members or close friends from your choice of business partners.

Not Seeking Advice

There’s a reason why business networks exist. Entrepreneurship is a whole universe that continually evolves, and you, as a sole businessperson, can’t possibly know everything that there is. When you’re facing tough challenges, don’t hesitate to consult the experts. Read books; take courses. Take business as an exercise in the art of humility.

Not Utilizing Feedback

If you want to learn which areas of your business process (or even management) need improvement, the best place to look at is customer feedback. Your customers’ response, not to mention the analytics that come with it, provide invaluable insights into which strategies should be reinforced and which ones should be let go.


It’s important to take risks, but it’s not wise to jump into a course of action without looking into it carefully first. Impatience gets you into trouble-fast. You must learn to distinguish the difference between acting promptly as a strategy and changing gear fast for a long-term goal.

The Takeaway

Failure is a necessary step in the ladder to success. Errors are an excellent source of insight, and if you know how to extract wisdom from these missteps, you will be rewarded with an improved perspective the next time you need to make smart business decisions.

Still, you don’t have to throw yourself headlong into the firepit in order to reap the rewards. The goal is to be able to make better decisions. Learning from the mistakes of others so you can pave a better path forward is definitely a wiser-not to mention cheaper-move you can always capitalize on.

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Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.