We've talked before about some of the mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they are starting out or trying to build their business and much of the time, it is because they are reading the wrong information or trying to follow outmoded techniques that do not work well in the modern world.
The Internet has changed the way people do business, yet many of the old school business advisers are not keeping up to date with new trends and end up giving incomplete or even bad advice. Let's have a look at a few of the common mistakes I've come across recently...
Relying on your product
Having a fantastic product is important to the success of your business -- but it's not what will determine the success of your business. It’s true. Believe it or not there are plenty of failing businesses with great products that are never going to be successful and there are plenty with poor products who are doing very well...
There could be any number of factors involved when a business fails to succeed but too many entrepreneurs believe that if they have a great product they are guaranteed to make money fast. You may think you have a great product -- but will your prospective customers think so too? It's important to do your market research and prove to yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a size able market for your product or service.
Relying on advertising
Many business owners believe that advertising is the key to success and continue to spend more and more money on ever bigger and more lavish adverts -- whether or not their advertising strategy is working. Salesman, understandably, will push their advertising medium hard in order to get your advertising revenue and many people believe them when they say that repeated adverts work. If you are not seeing a healthy return on your advertising in the first couple of months, then don't spend any more money on it!
There are plenty of other ways to market your business without relying on advertising. Try press releases, e-mail marketing campaigns, blogs and forums, and try broadcast media such as radio interviews and spend time building links with other websites – these are also cheaper ways of marketing your company than advertising.
However, having said that, there are plenty of business owners who fail to advertise at all -- they rely almost entirely on word of mouth and referrals to market their business. While word-of-mouth and even well executed viral marketing campaigns can work, the momentum eventually winds down and you have to keep plugging away at it.
With so much competition these days, it’s important to have a comprehensive and wide-ranging marketing strategy which includes, but is not limited to advertising.
Forgetting the importance of branding
Branding and building a corporate identity for your business is vital. There is so much competition around these days that people can easily become confused -- it's easy to mix your company up with Joe Blogg’s company because his company is only a couple of clicks away.
With a traditional business in the High Street, people can find you easily, but on the Internet people can get lost as they click further and further away from you, fail to bookmark your favourite website or simply forget all about you! Branding can help people to remember you and recognise your business when they come back to your site.
Make sure you have a memorable brand -- use a specific style, colour scheme and font, develop a memorable logo and include your branding in all your marketing material. Don't give anybody an excuse not to remember you!
Believing in ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes
Don't get me wrong, it is completely possible to make a great deal of money very quickly in business today – particularly via a medium such as the Internet, where you can reach vast amounts of potential customers -- literally in minutes. So with the right product and the right marketing strategy, you can make money.
The problem I've seen with inexperienced entrepreneurs is that they believe too many daft schemes that have no hope of succeeding. They chase one get-rich-quick scheme after another without stopping to analyse where they are going wrong. If one scheme doesn't work and make money overnight, they simply abandon it and move on to the next. This could go on with the rest of their entrepreneurial career...
What is needed is an objective look at what is going wrong and coming to the realisation that to be a serious player in business today, you have to offer top quality products, great customer service and a commitment to building a relationship with your potential customers.
Failing to look after your customers
Last but certainly not least, many busy entrepreneurs fail to do the basics in customer care. These days, as I have said, the emphasis is on building a relationship with your customers -- generally through newsletters, blogs and so on and people have come to expect this level of communication and even take it for granted.
It takes so little effort to write a short e-mail, even if it's only every couple of weeks, yet this small measure helps to build a foundation of trust with your customers so that they feel more confident about buying from you in the future.