Starting your own business can be a game-changer. If you do it right, it could become a successful, lucrative corporation that grows steadily and brings in a constant, consistent income.
But there is a multitude of small, easy-to-miss things that have the potential to uproot your entire business. Being aware of them from the start can help you avoid these pitfalls entirely.
If you get these right from the beginning, you’re likely to never see some of the negatives that could show up by neglecting them.
Not Marketing or Marketing Ineffectively
Owning a business is only worthwhile if you’re actually getting enough customers and making enough sales to cover your costs and make a profit. But getting customers may be harder than you think if they don’t know you’re there!
Gone are the days of word of mouth – it’s a digital age now. Marketing can be much more effective when it has a digital slant, so you’ll need to get social media profiles up and running in order to make the most of it.
Free marketing can work. But it’s likely to take longer to get results. Paid marketing is worthwhile if you’re getting a great ROI, and the only way you’re going to figure that out is to try it.
The kind of marketing that’s best for your business will depend on what type of business it is and where your target market hangs out online. For example, B2B businesses should consider marketing on LinkedIn. Ecommerce stores could find success on Instagram or Facebook.
To market your business successfully:
- Choose the right platform.
- Create a marketing plan.
- Offer something of value.
- Invest (even if just a little).
- Start marketing before you launch.
- Be patient!
Business Takeaway: Create a marketing plan and invest a bit in it.
Accidentally Infringing on Copyright
When registering a business, it’s a good idea to check that you’re not stepping on someone’s trademark.
Not only could this land you in a legal bind, but if you’ve gone ahead and printed company stationary, created social media accounts, and began marketing yourself, you’d need to start from scratch.
It’s easy to do an online search to find out what business names have been registered with the secretary of state where you live. If you’re not location-bound, it could be worth checking up in every state.
Do this early on to avoid becoming attached to a business name you can’t have!
Business Takeaway: Research carefully before choosing your business name.
Not Creating A Business Bank Account
In order to prevent suspicion and questions from the IRS or tax bureaus, it’s best to keep personal and business assets separate.
Some business structures require an account in the business’s name. If yours doesn’t, don’t fall into the trap of just using your personal account.
It’s easier to manage the business and personal finances separately, and it also comes across as more professional.
This also means that you’ll need to pay yourself a salary at the end of the month.
Business Takeaway: Create a new bank account for your business.
Not Having A Business Plan
Not having a business plan is like not going to play a round of golf but not looking at the golf course plan beforehand.
You may know what you’re there to do, and be very good at doing it. But if you don’t know roughly where the hole is and what the hazards are, you’re going to have a harder time playing.
A business plan will give you the opportunity to:
- Pinpoint your target market.
- Budget for expenses.
- Set realistic goals.
- Outline a marketing strategy.
And other equally important things. The more you know about your own business the better. Your business plan will be the blueprint of your business, and it can be the difference between a thriving company and a slumping company.
Business Takeaway: A business plan is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Not Using A Bookkeeping Service
Keeping on top of finances, even before you have income rolling in, is paramount for the long-term success of your business.
Accounting is a weak spot for many businesses. If you don’t have a dedicated accountant, it’s easy to do yourself with the help of bookkeeping software.
Be rigorous, even before you have much to work with. Budget! This will not only keep your paperwork organized, but it will help reduce the chance of being taken unaware by financial difficulties.
Business Takeaway: Using a bookkeeping service keeps things organized.
Starting a business is exciting and opens many doors, but pitfalls lurk around every corner! The more you can set upright in the beginning to avoid problems later, the better.
If you can skip right through the most common business starter’s mistakes, you’ll already have a leg-up on the competition!