Are You Stuck Between a Rock and These Hard Places?

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small business owner mistakes

During the course of their career, every small business owner gets stuck. The key is to know where and how to get unstuck.

My annual survey of 5,000 small business owners identifies the problem areas. Here are a few excerpts:

Treating Their Company Like a Job

The Survey: Over 40% of owners do whatever customers need in order to earn money for their business. This does not allow them to strategically ramp up a profitable business.

The Solution: Don’t take every piece of work offered by a customer. Focus on what the company is good at and get more of that profitable business.

The Daily Plan Gets Interrupted When Entering the Office

The Survey: 53% don’t have a plan for their day or it gets destroyed when they start work.

The Solution: Before opening email, voice mail or social media, do two important tasks that will make the day productive.

They Never Take a Break

The Survey: Over 50% said they are too busy to take a break and always have their phone near them. This is because they have a fear of getting left behind.

The Solution: Find a daily place without a smartphone where personal batteries can be recharged and let creativity flow.

They Fear Failure

The Survey: Over 40% said that failure is not an option. They fear it so much that they stop taking risks in their business.

The Solution: Accept failure. Learn something. Let go of that failure and take another action to get to another success.

They Are Afraid of Selling

The Survey: 41% are either afraid of rejection or not sure how to build a relationship with a prospect. 59% said that they are too busy servicing existing customers to find new ones.

The Solution: A company can’t really sell anything to anyone. They need to be there when customers are ready to buy by executing a daily systematic marketing plan.

They Stop Marketing as Soon as They Have Sales

The Survey: 58% only market their products when they do not have sales. They also believe their products are so superior that they do not need to market them at all.

The Solution: Execute a systematic marketing plan through content marketing on a weekly basis.

They Don’t Know How to Use (or Have Stopped) Social Media

The Survey: 54% either do not have a social media strategy or have stopped using it.

The Solution: Social media is part of promotion. Use it to form relationships by providing help to customers, prospects and connectors.

They Let Poor Performing Employees Stay

The Survey: 53% never fire employees since it is too uncomfortable or they are too loyal.

The Solution: Be slow to hire and quick to fire. Find the team that makes the company profitable. Fire anyone that does not add productively to the company.

They Don’t Ask for Help

The Survey: 44% never ask for help because they believe they have to figure it out on their own. Many others are unsure of who to ask for help.

The Solution: Find a formal or informal group of advisors and mentors to answer pressing questions. Do not go it alone!

They Allow Personal Smartphone Usage at Work

The Survey: 74% do not monitor personal use of smartphones which can destroy company productivity.

The Solution: Have a written policy that personal smartphones are not to be used during work except in emergencies.

Bonus: They Rarely Review Their Financial Statements

The Survey: Over 20% never look at their financial statements because they are hard to understand.

The Solution: Get trained to understand every line of the company’s financial statement. Review them monthly.

Tell me – where are you are stuck?

Rock Photo via Shutterstock


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

6 Reactions
  1. These are some of the most common pitfalls that small businesses can fall into. Joining a mastermind group has helped me with long-range goals and day-to-day issues. It is imperative not to think you have to do it all by yourself. Thanks for an invaluable list!

  2. Masterminds or mentoring groups are very advantageous

  3. I don’t fear failure. I fail success.

    Social media isn’t a strong skill for me when it comes to promotion.

    And, yes, I do have a problem asking for help.

  4. Barry, I love this post. I suffer from some of these, for sure. Asking for help, keeping up with my books… okay, maybe all of them.

    I appreciate the stark reminder to get it in gear!

  5. Dr. Simone Ravicz

    I hate to say it but the list is full of common-sense blunders. Fear underlies many of the aforementioned difficulties and, indeed, fear is one of the biggest obstacles for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Psychological principles explain most of the above problems. We need to take a look at our negative automatic thoughts and repetitive behavioral patterns and challenge the status quo of both. I have been able to skirt around or pass through such limitations by using brain-based techniques based on neuroplasticity. This is what I use with my small business owners and entrepreneurs. I currently have a FREE offer of a Transformational Thinking Template on my website which would be incredibly effective for people contending with these types of problems. Go to and click on “To My Success”. Keep practicing the template’s content and I assure you that most of the above difficulties will no longer prevail. Dr. Simone Ravicz

  6. I definitely agree on the area of personal calls. It is not really good to hear about problems and personal purchases on the office especially if you’re the employee. I wonder why some people just cannot separate their business from their personal lives.