We all make mistakes and learn from them. However, when it comes to growing your own small business, having invested every pie you own, it pays to avoid common mistakes. Research studies based on the success-failure ratio of small businesses indicate that a staggering 93% of small businesses are likely to fail within one year. Furthermore, only 50% of the remaining 7% are likely to make it past their fifth anniversary. Perhaps this shall not be the fate of your small business.
Here are 12 mistakes you should definitely avoid making....
1. Not Bothering With A Proper Marketing Plan
A solid, well-researched marketing plan can increase the success potential of your business by 30%. Having a marketing plan will give you a sense of purpose and direction. Write down an analysis of your target market, set down the fundamentals of your awareness-generation method, and how you plan to achieve your goals. At the end of it, you should feel good about your marketing plan; aim for that goal.

2. Not Exploring The Right Venue
Some business owners feel that advertising itself will bring home results. However, blind advertising without exploring the right venues is like shooting in the dark. Don’t buy advertising without measuring results. Explore ways to reach your target audience based on what they listen to, what they read and where they gather. If your target audience comprises of kids, buying TV advertising might work better than newspaper print Ads.

3. Networking For The Wrong Reasons
Business owners network in order to build relationships and leave the proper impression behind. It’s not about joining groups, associations or even the chamber of commerce. Listen to what your contacts have to say, and nurture beneficial relationships with them. You can later on utilize these relationships to further your business. You may not close a sale while networking, but you’ll be creating opportunities for referrals, which pay dividends in the long run.

4. Relying Too Much On Oneself
Can you do everything that your business needs on your own? Are you a marketing specialist, a qualified and experienced accountant, or are you well versed at product distribution? What about your PR skills? All these weak areas can turn into blind spots if ignored. Take the time to identify what your business needs and hire the right people for the right jobs.

5. Promoting Products To The Wrong Audience
Do you have a great product but constantly find that people don’t seem interested in it? Are you talking to the wrong people? Do you know who your ideal customers are and where to find them? Do you know what your ideal customers need and when they need it? Do you know how to grab their attention? The most successful businesses succeed not because of a great product, but because they know who are likely to buy their products.

6. Not Listening To Customers
Your potential customer is not there to serve your need. On the contrary, you are there to serve his or her need. To effectively sell a product, you need to ask questions, evaluate customer needs and then go about solving them. If you’re very intent on delivering your pitch and talking over your customer, you won’t win customer confidence. Rather, you will lose business. Learn to be a good listener, understand what the customer wants and earn customer trust.

7. Not Following Up On Leads
There are many ways to generate leads in the present day business scenario. However, if you don’t have a proven method to convert these leads into paying customers, there’s no point in generating the leads. Your business growth depends on building a system that ensures timely and consistent lead follow-up that culminates in a sale. Use web technology, automated scripts and email templates to effectively follow up on leads.

8. Not Documenting Business Processes
Every critical business task or operation should be backed by well defined, documented business processes. However, many small businesses totally ignore this very critical aspect, and learn, to their ultimate cost, that they tend to repeat the same mistakes and lose more business over time because no written business processes have been put down.

9. Hiring People Indiscriminately
It’s true that a strong, qualified, experienced and right-fit people can support your business success. People are resources; investing in the wrong resource will only drain the company’s profitability in the long run. Clearly document the job description for each job. Get the right people for the right jobs using proven hiring methodologies. By outlining your business goals and assigning goal-based accountability, you can motivate and retain your quality staff.

10. Putting In Sporadic Marketing Efforts
Many small businesses invest heavily into marketing activities when profits dip. The rest of the time, they just glide the roller coaster without making any effort. It’s important to keep your product forefront in people’s minds by setting up regular and consistent lead generation strategies. Sporadic marketing activities will lead to sporadic results; consistency is the key to attracting and retaining customers.

11. Hesitating To Use Bank Credit
Small businesses owners are at times are apprehensive of taking advantage of their bank credit. There’s a reason why bank credit lines exist; they exist to finance your business cash flow needs. There is no right or wrong time to make use of this facility, so go ahead and use wisely now. You can avoid unnecessary cash flow issues, as long as you pay the money back when business improves.

12. Not Following Up With Customers For Payment
Some business owners hesitate when it comes to following up with customers whose accounts are past-due. However, by not following up on payments, your company only loses interest on receivable funds, apart from the impact on cash flow. Balance your follow-up between careless customers and diligent customers experiencing cash flow issues. Collect as much as you can from the deadbeat variety and allow a credit line to your better customers to keep your business going.