Many people dream of owning and operating their own business and for some this dream can become a nightmare.

There are many advantages to being your own boss; however, the personal freedom and self satisfaction that can come from running your own business can turn sour if you fall victim to some common mistakes made by many small business owners.

Many small business owners assume that if they advertise their business it will always get results and be money well spent.    There is nothing wrong with advertising if you first do your homework.   You need to develop both a business plan and a marketing plan.  You must be able to answer several key questions with a certain degree of confidence.  

  • What is my niche in the marketplace?  
  • Who are my customers?  
  • How do I best reach my target audience?  
  • How do I best position my company to distinguish it from my competition?  

Some of these answers will be provided by a well thought out business plan.  

Once you feel that you know where you belong in the marketplace, you can then start working with advertising and marketing people to determine how to best get your message across to your target audience while still working within your budget.   The biggest mistake a small business owner can make is to haphazardly throw money into advertising in the belief that it always works.  

Small business owners often believe that everyone will be as enthusiastic about their business as they are and fail to understand that just opening your doors will not automatically bring customers.    Whether through advertising, networking or self promotion, every business needs exposure within the community to generate interest and eventually paying customers.    Once you establish a customer base, then, assuming you have quality products and good customer service, word of mouth may become your best and least expensive source of new customers.

In the constant struggle to generate revenue, many small business owners accept the notion that any customer is better than no customer.   Obviously, every business needs customers to survive; however, a troublesome customer who never pays on time and needs an inordinate amount of your time and attention may do you more harm than good.   It is a mistake for small business owners not to wean themselves off of bad customers who generate more problems than revenue.    It is also a mistake to keep problematic employees in the hope that they will someday improve.

Finally, many small business owners feel that the only way to succeed is if they go it alone and do everything.    This hardly ever proves to be true.   Even the smallest of businesses requires a number of tasks and skills to be successful.   A key employee or the help of outside experts such as attorneys, accountants and marketing people can make all the difference.

I have made all of these mistakes at one time or another.   The good news is that you can recover from them and still make your dream of having a successful business come true.