Running a small business can be tough. There is competition from major corporations, the challenges associated with our increasingly global economy, and an ever-changing cultural landscape to navigate. In addition, many times small business owners simply don’t have the resources of large companies. But the challenges facing small companies are no excuse for small business owners to become complacent in how they conduct business. It’s important to be aware that there are practices that could kill your small business.
Not Paying Attention to Trends
Sometimes if a business has been successful doing something a certain way, management seems to think that they should continue to do the same thing, in the same way, no matter what. We’re not talking about sticking with a strategy that’s enjoying success, we’re talking about continuing with the same strategy even after it begins to fail.
For example, let’s say a company in the 1960s sold bell-bottom jeans, which were very popular in that decade. However, the company sees that the trend is moving to straight-leg jeans. But because the company has always sold bell-bottom jeans it refuses to change. These days, how many people do you see wearing bell-bottom jeans? That company would be dead.
Neglecting Good Customer Service
A small business might argue that customer service isn’t that important to them because they’re small. In theory, a small business should focus on providing good customer service precisely because they’re small. Unlike large corporations, small businesses should pride themselves on being able to provide more personal attention to customers. Some ways a small business might show excellent customer service include:
- Enabling customers to reach the company through phone, email and chat
- Soliciting customer feedback through surveys and questionnaires
- Showing customer appreciation through giveaways and raffles for unique gifts
Not Listening to Employees
There’s nothing worse than when a company owner or management team, thinking they know everything, refuses to pay attention to suggestions or advice from lower-level employees. Of course, an owner would have information about operations that a regular employee does not, still this shouldn’t prevent him (or her) from listening.
Keep in mind that just as the owner knows things that the regular employee doesn’t, the regular employee sees things that the owner doesn’t, simply because he doesn’t have the same vantage point. Also, when employees know that their boss is willing to listen to them, it strengthens morale. The happier the employees, the stronger the company.
Offering a Product or Service Poor in Quality
Perhaps nothing can take a business down in flames faster than when a company offers a product or service that lacks quality. These days customers have a lot of options. And they’re not going to spend their hard-earned money on products and services that don’t give them the most bang for their buck.
It’s no surprise that many customers are willing to pay more for items if what they get is high in quality. This being the case, it makes good financial sense to invest in producing quality products and services for the sake of the customer and the business.
Having Negative Online Reviews
Remember that this is the digital age, and people (potential customers) spend a great deal of time online. In fact, even before a potential customer decides to patronize a business. Chances are they’ve gone online to see what others have to say about it. If what they find online is an overabundance of negative reviews, that doesn’t bode well for a company’s future success.
The sad fact is that even if a business is above reproach, negative reviews from customers, for whatever reason, can give it a black eye. Potential customers have begun to look at online reviews as unfiltered truth, so it’s important for the majority of a company’s online reviews to be solid.
Failure to Use Marketing
Business 101 says that if customers don’t know your business is in operation, they’re not going to patronize it. This is why getting the word out about your business through a variety of marketing channels is so important. It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of Americans regularly access the internet. So it’s essential for companies to advertise online.
Popular social media sites such as Faceback and YouTube are well-known as desirable spots for companies to advertise. In addition, a company shouldn’t neglect the more traditional avenues for advertising, including print publications, television, and radio.
Small businesses face many challenges, some of which can lead to their failure if not properly addressed. This is why it’s important to know the pitfalls and mistakes that can lead to a company’s demise. Poor customer service. Bad online reviews, and inferior products and services are a few of the things that can kill a small business. The successful business owner will do well to avoid these pitfalls.
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