By Lea Schneider
Small business owners tend to make instant business decisions that they probably wouldn’t make otherwise. At home, you wouldn’t hand your credit card to someone working around the house and tell them to go get whatever they needed. At home, you wouldn’t feel as though you must do every single chore on your own. Yet these things often happen at a small business.
However, many of the errors owners will make in the coming year can be easily fixed with a few simple strategies. Here are five common small business mistakes and their solutions.
1. Careless with Cash.
Every business has a stream of daily financial needs, from supplies for a project to sending out for lunch. But handing out cash to quickly solve a problem can lead to you wondering where all your money went.
Smarter Strategy – Develop a cash control plan to prevent theft and unnecessary expenses.
- Set a rule not to reach for personal funds.
- Keep gift cards on hand for the stores your business frequents. Give them to runners who need to get supplies. That way, they don’t have access to company debit or credit card numbers. You can then reload the gift card with more funds as you need to do so.
- Establish controls for cash. Require a receipt for every purchase, and limit access to funds to specific people. Keep cash locked, and reconcile it on a regular basis.
- Limit who can use company debit or credit cards. Assign a particular card number to a single user.
2. Forgetting to Organize.
Small business growth sometimes means being impulsive and acting quickly—you just grab something and do what needs to be done in the moment. This is okay in the short term, but over time it can lead to disorganization and chaos. Soon you’ve got piles of papers and jumbles of supplies sitting around, and everything takes longer than it should.
Smarter Strategy – Building in time to get organized can pay off in many ways. You’ll waste less time and money, meet deadlines with less stress, and have more focus. Concentrate on just one of these items at a time to help keep your workload manageable:
- Filing paperwork
- Organizing the supply closet or storage
- Tracking projects and clients
- Preparing a marketing plan
- Creating easy-to-follow systems for your employees
3. The Do-it-All Dilemma.
You picked up supplies, cleaned, delivered products, did accounting, paid bills, posted social media, delivered ads, checked on insurance and answered emails, when you suddenly realize that doing it all yourself doesn’t really make any money.
Smarter Strategy – It isn’t just that you can’t keep up the pace of doing it all forever, but that you can’t get ahead.
- Devote more time to growing your business so that you can make enough money to pay for things to be delegated.
- Make a list of tasks that you perform for your business, then figure out which ones you may be able to outsource in order to use time wisely to produce revenue.
- Be realistic about your expectations for yourself and try not to take on more than you can handle.
4. Inconsistent Marketing.
One day, you might be all about marketing, only for it to get shoved to the bottom of your to-do list the next. Having no clear marketing scheme creates an up-down cycle. Customers taper off, and once again you are trying to catch up on marketing to get more business.
Smarter Strategy – Change your up-down pattern by realizing that marketing is a necessary must-do item on your calendar every week. For a healthy business, plan for marketing. Create a checklist of things that you need to do, which may include:
- Setting up advance social media posts
- Updating your website
- Arranging for ads
Try assigning a theme to each month, so that your various marketing approaches are all coordinated under one common idea.
5. Delaying Rewards.
Waiting to reward an employee too long may mean that he or she has already moved on. The same can be said for customer loyalty. While we recognize the need to thank people, by the next day, we’ve found other issues, and the moment is lost.
Smarter Strategy – Create a rewards plan that has a sense of immediacy to it. Choose something that you can keep on hand or quickly do for a customer or employee. Here are a few ideas:
- Purchase gift cards in advance for both customer and employee rewards.
- Give your employees time off—it can even be as simple as saying they can come in an hour later.
- Reward employees with your product, or coupons toward your product. (Employees often can’t afford the very thing they sell!)
- Offer employees time to learn something new or work on a project.
By reevaluating your business strategies and following these simple steps, you can save money and grow your business!
Lea Schneider is a well-known organizational expert who has advised business owners for many years. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in business. Lea writes on a variety of organizational issues related to businesses for The Home Depot. For more info on gift cards, which may be used as a budgeting tool with employees, you can visit Home Depot’s website here.