It might be me but I just can’t help but see some really basic mistakes made, or opportunities missed by small business every day. Some businesses are just too busy and focus on operational issues, some just don’t appreciate the way in which we as consumers have changed and some are just ignorant.
For this reason, I know that there will be some people that will say at some stage whilst reading this post, ‘Yeah but that’s not relevant to my business’. The fact is, it’s 2011 and it is. Perhaps your business is going really well despite making all the mistakes I’ve highlighted below, but take heed in the lessons of businesses past and don’t presume that it will always be that way. After all, if addressing the issues I’ve highlighted gets you more business for little effort, then wouldn’t you want to do it? I hope so.
So here are five mistakes or opportunities missed that I see regularly, day to day that just seem to stand out like the proverbial dog’s organs. None of them should be groundbreaking but I do understand that in the process of running a small business they can be overlooked.
1. Having a generic email address
It is so simple to organise your own email address. Just head to an organisation such as Crazy Domains, purchase your domain name http://www.yourbusiness.com and purchase an email hosting package. The two are likely to cost you less than $50 for two years and include up to 10 email addresses, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Not having a fully optimised Google Places listing
As far as one of the single-most important things that you could do for your business, for free, is to claim your Google Places listing. Fill it with as much info as you can including images, trading hours and do what you can to encourage customers to leave reviews. This will ensure a much better search engine performance and it will attract more business.
3. Not having at least three third-party listings
There are so many free third-party listings online, some targeted at your specific business and some more general. They are great for your search engine performance and will help to attract business. You should be looking for local government business directories and general trade directories. Some examples in Australia are HotFrog and TrueLocal.
4. Not having a website or at least a Facebook page
As you probably picked up, I really don’t think this whole online thing is going away. A website really should be a must and they’re pretty cheap these days as long as you don’t go nasty.
Alternatively, set up a Facebook page and direct your customers to that. Make sure you claim your username after you reach 25 ‘Likes’, that way you can easily promote your business at facebook.com/yourbusiness.
5. Having local newspaper advertising as your primary marketing spend
Far too many businesses resort to advertising in the local newspaper when they start to see a downturn. Do you know if it works? Try something the next time to help you measure its success. There are so many other alternatives these days and most are more affordable.
I could seriously add so many more points that I see small business ignore each and every day of the week. But these five bug me regularly and by taking notice you can really make a difference to your small business, whether you think it’s relevant or not.
I would love to hear your thoughts, if you’re a business and you completely disagree or maybe you have a couple of small business mistakes that bug you. Let us know.