There are so many things that can go wrong in business that sometimes it can seem impossible for things to ever go right. I’ve been working for over ten years and I’ve seen some crazy things go down (some people are nuts I tell ya), and a lot of things fail and blow up in smoke. But it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve definitely learned a lot in my career and like to keep an open mind so I can continue learning new things. We all want to succeed as best we can, so let’s take a look at some important mistakes to avoid in business.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: Hiring, Firing
People are the pulse of every business and one bad apple can quickly spoil the whole lot. Hiring the right people is essential. It’s also critical to have the courage to fire people when they are no longer a good fit and are putting your business at risk. Avoid these mistakes in hiring and firing.
- Rushing through the interview process, not asking good questions.
- Not hiring people with sufficient experience or skills.
- Hiring based on emotion alone, ex. out of pity, based on looks, or as a favor to someone.
- Hiring people who look great on paper but are very difficult to work with.
- Only looking externally for senior positions and not promoting from within.
- Hiring intelligent people and not letting them make any changes.
- Being afraid to fire someone who’s no longer contributing or causing conflict.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: Employee Retention, Performance
Most people I know don’t like job hopping. Searching for a job is tough and employees want job security. Yet there are so many unhappy employes out there who don’t get recognized for their performance. Others are blindly going through the motions just to get a paycheck without taking any accountability for their actions. Retaining employees and rewarding people for good performance is so important in business. Make sure to avoid these mistakes if you’re a manager or running your own business.
- Not setting clear, specific goals for employees.
- Infrequent one-on-one performance evaluations with each individual.
- Not holding senior execs to the same standards as support staff.
- Assuming every strong employee wants a managerial role.
- Calling people out publicly about their mistakes.
- Not tying compensation to performance.
- Overpaying newer employees and underpaying existing employees for similar roles.
- Not addressing performance issues right when the occur.
- Ignoring personnel conflicts and pairing incompatible people together.
- Assuming you’re always right and your team is wrong.
- Being business focused 100% of the time and never holding any team building events.
- Creating an environment of competition without support or collaboration.
- Ignoring people who complain and spread negativity.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: Branding, Marketing, Advertising
Did you know that advertising, marketing, and branding are not the same thing? Make sure to read my 20 helpful tips on branding and understand what it really means for your business. There needs to be balance between developing and promoting your products/services. You can’t be successful without working on both. Here are some mistakes to avoid in branding, marketing, and advertising.
- Overlooking branding and not spending enough time developing it.
- Spending all your money on R&D and nothing on marketing or advertising.
- Or doing the reverse and assuming product development will be cheap and easy.
- Assuming that everything will go according to plan.
- Pricing your product/service too low or too high.
- Being inconsistent with your brand.
- Pitching to the wrong demographic.
- Using stereotypes or offensive slogans, images.
- Ignoring focus groups and not paying any attention to customer feedback.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: Operations, Training
One common reason people get frustrated on the job is a lack of training. No one can be expected to know how to do everything from the get-go. Every business has it’s own nuances and managers need to give employees the resources they need. There are a lot of things that can go wrong operationally as well. I see this happen all the time. Avoid these business mistakes in operations and training.
- Assume an employee can learn everything on the job.
- Make training all on the fly with no formal structure or plan.
- Never consider external training or classes to help employees.
- Don’t take the time to ask for training feedback.
- Put the wrong people in charge of training.
- Only hiring external project managers instead of from within.
- Holding too few or too many meetings.
- Calling meetings with no set agenda or structure.
- Undervaluing the benefits of face to face meetings.
- Setting unrealistic expectations for people and teams.
- Sticking to the rules all the time and never considering if they need to be changed.
- Undervaluing organizational skills and structure.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: Communication
Communication is a common problem in a lot of businesses. You’d think it’d be easy for people to communicate with each other, but it can be quite complex. There are so many personalities, styles, habits, gaps, and cultures to consider. Most of the time the issues stem from insufficient communication which leads to frustration, inefficiencies, errors, and failures. Avoid these business mistakes in communication:
- Keep your support staff in the dark about new initiatives or relevant news.
- Relying too much on just one type of communication.
- Only focusing on your team and forgetting about other departments.
- Keeping your employees under constant surveillance.
- Micromanaging people and creating a hostile environment.
- Having a closed door policy and only taking questions by appointment.
- Having a open “too-wide” door policy and being constantly distracted.
- Not building relationships with your team, other groups, and individual colleagues.
- Keeping bad news too close to your chest.
- Ignoring the growth and communication needs of senior employees.
- Only recognizing employees in private.
- Not allowing everyone to contribute their ideas, suggestions, concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
Mistakes To Avoid In Business: R&D, Planning
A business could have fantastic people and still fail if it doesn’t spend enough time and money on planning and R&D. We live in a fast paced, competitive society. Our competitors are always lurking around the corner trying to get every competitive advantage they can over us. Even if things are going great today, that could all change tomorrow. With the amount of technology we have, things are changing faster and faster. And we have to stay on our toes and keep pushing forward. You’ll want to avoid these mistakes in R&D and planning.
- Not having any contingency plans for large scale projects.
- Figuring you’ll never need a business continuity plan for a natural disaster or attack.
- Not collaborating and communicating with the right teams on large scale initiatives.
- Underestimating expenses, deadlines, resources required, and project scope.
- Relying on outside support too much for development better done in house.
- Assuming because things are fine now they’ll continue working in the future.
- Ignoring or misunderstanding industry trends.
- Lack of analyzing the pros and cons of R&D results.
- Overspending and not being able to stick to a budget.
- Being disorganized, not having clear, structured plans.
- Taking too long to act on ideas, upgrades, initiatives.
There are lot of things that can go wrong in business but that’s also what makes it so challenging and rewarding when things go right. It’s okay to fail if you learn from your mistakes and make the most out of a bad situation. If you can remember the above list of mistakes to avoid in business you’re already ahead of the game!
Untemplaters, what are some of your suggestions for mistakes to avoid in business? What tips do you have for entrepreneurs and managers? What are some of the mistakes you’ve experienced or witnessed in your career? What would you have done differently?
Copyright 2013. Original content and photography authorized only to appear on Untemplater.com. Thank you for reading!
Thomas | Your Daily Finance says
You touched on a lot of good things here Sydney. Especially see a lot of problems in the workforce with the pay of new employees vs the old ones. When you have people who are tenure and have been doing a great job see the new guy/girl come in making what they make its drives them nuts. Maybe thats why they say we dont discuss salary but too many people still do. I would also say that for managers/owners allow the people you hire to do their job. Some managers/owners think they know everything. Remember you just hired the expert let them do what you hired them for.
Pauline @ Make Money Your Way says
I have had some of the firing/hiring problems you mentioned, last time we kept a bad guy too long for our own good. It is a small village and you play politics with everyone but if it isn’t good for you, better get rid of the person before it gangrenes some more.
Michael @ The Student Loan Sherpa says
Fantastic information. I would say that one mistake I have seen made is not realizing your limitations. Someone can be a brilliant innovator, but have poor HR skills. Its important to recognize your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who have those areas as strengths.
Thanks Michael. As entrepreneurs we want to be able to do it all but that often isn’t the best way to do things, esp once things get going. Pinpointing our weaknesses and working with people who are strong in those areas helps so much and saves a lot of time and money.
I would add that the worst mistake I made as an entrepreneur was not counting on a mentor… I am traying to sove that problem!
That’s great you’re working on solving that problem! Learning from our mistakes is one of the best ways to grow. And having a supportive mentor can be such a big help.
John S @ Frugal Rules says
Nice post Sydney! I think you’ve been very thorough here and can relate to many of them. One thing I would add, though you did touch on it, is not knowing who your client or target market is. That can really hold a business back from succeeding. We deal with many clients and quite a few of them do not know who their target market is and it shows.
Thanks John. Good advice on knowing who your target market is. It sounds like something that would be obvious but that isn’t always the case. And that can have a big impact on profitability.