The definition of a sale is when preparation and opportunity meet on the same day. In business, it helps to understand that customers are working to minimize risk when they enter into contracts with small businesses. Some small business owners often loose opportunities because of bad habits and not recognizing that certain things must be in place before they start marketing their products and services. These issues speak directly to trust and credibility for a business owner.
Here are the top five mistakes that hold back start-up entrepreneurs:
1) Not Appreciating Social Intelligence
This is the mistake that small business owners make the most. Having proper social skills and being in tune with your surroundings will take you a long way in business.
Here are some examples of poor social intelligence:
- Do you have a tendency to talk too much at networking events, or worse, share too much personal information? No one except the banquet manager cares about how hard it was to find a parking space. Keep your networking chat smart.
- Are you dressed like someone that has an executive presence? Or, like you should be serving the meal at the event. Everyone should have signature colors and at least three killer outfits. Men, the tie color and the shoes are very important.
- Do you have a strong elevator pitch or do people need to ask you questions to help you define what you do? Great elevator pitches hit on three key things: explain the type of business, explain the target customer and close with a question.
- Do you appropriately follow-up new leads and contacts or are you a stalker? Be smart with follow-up. You can send an email, personal note and make a phone call within three months of meeting a contact unless instructed otherwise. Calling every week will not bring opportunity to your business.
2) Have a Professional Business Website
It’s surprising to me how many business owners still do not have a website. I can’t remember the last time I used a paper directory or phone book to find a vendor. Many people will perform an internet search before they ever call you, so if your customers can’t find you online, you are missing out on opportunities. Nowadays, pulling together a business website is much easier. Have an idea of what you want, and if you plan on incorporating a blog I strongly suggest you start writing blog posts at least three months prior to the launch of your website, so that you do not get backed-up trying to develop content once your business starts rolling.
3) Make Sure Your Email Address is Branded With Your Company Name and That the Email Address Works
I love my gmail account too, but that’s not the one I use for customer contact. Your emails should come from a branded account that promotes your business.
4) Not Investing in Your Brand
Yes, all of you out there using business cards that you can get for free online are really hurting your business brand. Invest in a professional logo and a two color business card. Do not hand out business cards that have it printed on the back that they were free. That tells a prospective customer that you are not serious about your business.
5) Have a Real Phone Number for Your Business
Your small business should have a dedicated phone line with voicemail. Do not use your cell phone as your main business line. You’ll never to do business with a major corporation with that as your brand image. Also, please do not use those answering machines that come with the phone. No matter what you do, the message will never sound professional.
Are there any other common mistakes that you think some small business owners make when starting out in business?