By Quick Sprout
If you’ve been in business for a while, you know by now that mistakes are just part of the process. New businesses and startup companies are slowly learning this.
Nobody is perfect, but some mistakes happen on a larger scale than others.
But here’s the thing, lots of these mistakes can be avoided.
That was my inspiration for writing this guide. There are certain common business mistakes that I see people making all of the time.
Brands are only making these mistakes because they don’t realize it until it’s too late.
Realistically, there are hundreds of mistakes that different businesses make each day.
However, I wanted to focus the attention on specific types of mistakes.
Your business always needs to be growing. If sales start to plateau or even drop off, it’s going to be a major problem for your company.
But you can prevent a plateau by avoiding these common mistakes that I’ve identified.
Use this guide as a reference to correct any of the mistakes that you’re currently making, or you can avoid them completely in the first place.
1. Not focusing on sales
Shockingly, this is a major issue that I see all of the time.
You would assume that generating more sales would always be a priority for a company, but sometimes brands start to lose sight of exactly why they are in business.
You’ve got to be making money. This money stems from sales, period.
That’s the best way to make sure your company will grow and ensure that you won’t stall in a plateau.
When I’m consulting with businesses, they’ll show me all of these other metrics that they’re focusing on, which is fine. But what are your sales?
If what you’re doing doesn’t translate to conversions and transactions, it’s not helping you out.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great if you’re getting more email subscribers, social media followers, and website traffic.
But running out of cash is one of the top reasons why startups fail.
If you can focus on new ways to generate sales, you’ll always have a steady cash flow.
I understand that you have so many other areas of your company that require your attention. However, you need to have priorities.
You can’t let sales to a back seat to anything, or it’s going to be a problem for you in the future.
2. Forgetting about the customer
Your business will live and die by your customers.
All of your decisions need to be profitable.
These two statements don’t always add up. But you need to find a balance between both of them if you want to grow. Here’s what I mean.
On the one hand, a decision you make could reduce your operational costs and ultimately drive up your profit margins.
But if that cost reduction impacts the quality of your products and services, it’s not going to benefit your customers.
As a result, sales will start to drop, which is much worse than a plateau.
Let’s take a look at these priorities for businesses in 2018.
Do you see some commonality here?
Nearly everything on this list will help improve the customer experience. That’s what you need to prioritize.
Clearly, other businesses have recognized this and are acting accordingly.
So if you forget about your customers, it will be easy for them to just leave and go to one of your competitors instead.
If you put more emphasis on making your customers happy, the rest will take care of itself. Don’t cut corners just to turn a higher profit.
3. Ignoring data
Earlier I explained how some people focus on too many metrics that they forget about sales.
But another issue that I see all of the time is companies that just ignore these metrics completely.
I’m talking about things like:
- website traffic
- conversion rates
- click-through rates
These are just a handful of the top metrics every marketing manager needs to track.
Without this data, how can you know if your campaigns are successful? How will you know what which decisions to make?
Another issue that I see is business owners who are clinging to the wrong data.
Here’s an example to show you what I mean.
Let’s say your business has website traffic that is increasing exponentially. You can’t just assume that it means your company is successful.
If your sales and conversions aren’t increasing at the same rate, you’re not actually growing, which should be a major concern for you.
That’s why you need to track your data and know how to analyze it properly as well.
4. Not analyzing your competitors
Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. There are outside factors that will have a direct impact on your success.
You need to keep an eye on your competitors.
Otherwise, they’ll steal your customers before you even realize what happened.
Compare yourself with them to see how you stack up. The easiest way to do this is with a SWOT analysis chart.
It’s simple but very effective.
That’s because it forces you to see where your business stands on paper. Just saying things like “we’re really good at what we do” doesn’t give you any benefit.
When you put things in writing, any glaring mistakes or areas where you can improve will be more obvious.
You can also take advantage of helpful tools to monitor your competitors.
One of the first things you need to do is identify who you’re competing with. You’ll want to analyze competitors locally, regionally, and online as well.
Compare your prices to them. Look at their website.
Check out their advertisements and social media campaigns.
What’s working for them? What needs improvement?
Then, you can apply what’s working for your competition to your own business. Avoid their mistakes.
See what customers are saying about your competitors online. We’ll talk more about online reviews in greater detail shortly.
5. Avoiding new technology
Adapt or die.
This theory can be applied to nature, as well as business.
If you’re resistant to change, it’s going to be the downfall of your company. That’s why you need to educate yourself about new technology trends.
- live chat
- artificial intelligence
- machine learning
- beacon technology
These are all things that can help your business grow.
I see so many business owners that are stuck in their old ways. But just because something worked for you back in 2005, it doesn’t mean that strategy will work in 2019.
To be successful in the future, you need to look beyond today, tomorrow, and next year.
You need to be prepared for technology advancements coming in 2022 or 2025.
Keep up with the latest trends. You don’t necessarily need to apply everything right away, but you have to start somewhere.
For example, you can start by building a mobile app for your business.
Why haven’t you developed an app yet? Don’t let the costs associated with this venture scare you away.
22% of business owners say that mobile app development is too expensive.
An additional 23% don’t think they can run a business and maintain an app at the same time.
This type of mentality is what’s going to cause a plateau, and eventually a decline. Find ways to make this happen, especially if you’re in the retail business.
Mobile apps have triple the conversion rate compared to mobile web browsers.
Product views per user are 4.6x higher, and the add to cart rate is 2.5x higher.
Building a mobile app for your small business is just one example of implementing new technology, and it’s not even that new.
If you’re resistant to change, it’s going to stunt your business growth. So have an open mind moving forward, especially when it comes to technology advancements.
6. Ignoring customer reviews
I briefly mentioned this before when we talked about monitoring your competitors.
In addition to reading what people think about other companies, you need to see what customers are saying about your business online.
There are lots of different places you need to check, such as:
- reviews on your website
- third-party sites like Yelp or Google
- social media comments
Respond to reviews.
Take notes about what customers are saying. Make the necessary changes based on this information.
Group common reviews together. If all of your customers are having the same problem, and you don’t make an adjustment, it’s basically just a slap in their face.
In addition to harming your relationships with existing customers, online reviews will have a direct impact on future sales as well.
92% of people read a review before making a purchase online.
88% of consumers say they trust an online review as much as a recommendation from someone that they know. This impacts their buying decisions.
Furthermore, 35% of people are less likely to buy if no online reviews are available.
This means that you need to take this strategy to the next level.
Not only do you need to read and monitor reviews, but you also need to encourage your customers to write reviews to improve your online reputation.
If you’re ignoring this, it’s a mistake that will be costly for your business.
7. Not accepting more payment methods
This relates back to what we talked about earlier in terms of forgetting about the customer.
I realize that it’s more expensive for you to accept certain forms of payment compared to other options. However, everyone has different preferences.
The days of just accepting credit and debit cards are over.
So if you’re still not taking every major credit card, it’s probably unlikely that you’re allowing customers to pay with digital payment methods.
But as I said before, you need to adapt to new trends and technology. Digital payments are becoming the way of the future.
19% of consumers are using digital wallets.
About half of the people who use digital wallets expect merchants to accept those payment forms. But here’s something else that you need to keep in mind. More than one-fifth of users who don’t use digital wallets still expect businesses to accept digital payment methods.
Again, if you have integrated new technology into your business, this won’t be a problem.
The last thing you want is for a customer to decide they want to buy something, but change their mind because you don’t accept their preferred payment method.
Don’t expect them to just reach for another card. Instead, they’ll go find what they’re looking for from another business.
8. Never offering value
Why should people buy from your business?
It may sound like an odd question but think about it for a minute. You need to create a highly effective value proposition.
This will make it clear to everyone why they should buy from your business.
You need to understand the wants and needs of your customers.
There’s a big difference between what consumers want and what marketers want.
As you can see from the graph, 72% of consumers want to see posts from brands on social media related to discounts and sales.
However, just 18% of marketers post those things.
There is obviously a major discrepancy here.
Even if you don’t want to offer discounts all of the time, you still need to come up with ways to add value to your brand. Otherwise, consumers won’t have a reason to buy from you, and sales will eventually decline.
Nobody is perfect. Every business makes mistakes.
You’re going to continue making mistakes in the future as well.
However, you reduce the chances of making these errors if you know what to look for before it happens.
Some of you may already be doing some of the things that I’ve covered on this list. But now you can identify those mistakes and make changes before they get out of hand.
If you can stay clear of the blunders that I’ve outlined above, it will help your business avoid a plateau or a decline.
What types of mistakes does your business need to fix in order to stimulate growth?