Okay, let me preface this with this is in my opinion only, and clearly I can only base this on my own experience, successes and failures. I’m sort of rock starring out over here though with my small business. So, I may actually have something good to offer you in the way of advice.
If you like my guidance or recommendations, take it and run with it. If not, don’t give me too hard of a time, I’m just trying to help whomever I can get to point ‘B’ in their lives!
However, it should be said that I will not be holding back on my true opinion of errors we as small business owners tend to make on a regular basis. So, that being said… here we go kids, lets see if this can help us all avoid a few pitfalls in our quest for world domination!
Mistakes we make…
We often completely eliminate any chances for real success by branding ourselves incorrectly. Do some research of YOUR AREA. Hit YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC and study it. Who lives there, who shops there, who is your audience. Well, your brand should fit THEIR NEEDS.
Our brand is how we sell and present ourselves to the community. Early on, a mistake I made was the slogan “Prices for Every Pocketbook.” Well, heck yes it got them in the door they were looking for a bargain. I DID successfully meet my rural Lancaster County demographics need.
However, I also devalued my worth. I put a lot into learning a skill set that holds value. I was not attracting the right audience I wanted that would appreciate my special set of skills. Now, we’re still the home of Prices for Every Pocketbook, but we have stipulations and they can choose their price for pick up orders only. Delivered flowers have a minimum. Which leads to our next issue;
2. C.Y.A. (Cover Your Accounts).
Sorry to be blunt, but the main thing that matters is making the bills each month. Everything after that is gravy, yes, but you need to make sure that happens by any means necessary. You are the provider for your family, and living your American Dream.
Let’s not make it your bo bo wearing kid’s nightmare. We are doing our own thing to improve their lives, not make them wish you’d get at 9 to 5!! In my business that means charging for delivery.
I pay someone to drive my flowers all around town, or I put miles on my own delivery van to get that order to my client. The last time I checked gas was not free, and I certainly can tell you the expense of a car isn’t either. Always operate your business like a business.
3. Don’t Mix Business With Pleasure.
You have lot of friends. You’re so popular with everyone, and you’re so awesome. Are you? I don’t know. Let’s see if a friend comes to your place of business. How do you charge them? Do you at all?
Well kids, there was a time when this crazy cow did NOT charge friends at all. What a mistake. If they were truly a friend they would never allow you to do that. They would love and respect you enough to know that it is your way to support your family.
This really burnt my buns a few times in the beginning, when I had a ‘good’ friend that came in, and of course wanted free stuff. Me, being an idiot, and super popular, agreed to do free stuff pretty regularly for this friend. It was expensive for me in the long run and I had to stop.
When I stopped doing for free, I didn’t hear from those people ever again for flowers. WHAT A GREAT FRIEND, RIGHT? No, they were using me. When they couldn’t do that anymore, and I started to charge, they disappeared like the silent deadly fart friends are in your life sometimes when you are running a business. It is not a free for all. It is you, making your way in the world.
4. Lost Advertising Dollars.
Where do you spend your money for ads? I had a trial and error period. I figured out what worked, and what didn’t, by accounting for the return on each investment I made. Advertising should be closely monitored.
You never get off a phoned in order here without saying “…and may I ask how you were referred to our shop?” I would say that more than 90% of my orders are referred by Google. Google is phenomenal. Keep your SEO high and you’ll flourish with internet sales.
Boost that post on Facebook. Social Media is free and easy to use but for just $5.00 you can boost a Facebook post and increase your audience. Use the tools you have online and generate sales from it. Keep careful track of where all your sales are coming from moving forward. If you are doing something that does not yield a profit, stop it.
5. Minimize Your Personal Information Online.
It’s tempting, it’s so easily done, and it’s CERTAIN death for business people. I’m guilty just like you are of the occasional slip. But let’s face it, no one wants to read your diary online, or hear about your husband and his stinky socks. Shut the Front Door Tightly behind you at night, and don’t talk about it on line.
I’ll never forget last summer when a Mennonite woman, who owns her own business, kept posting pics of her and her new boyfriend online. She posted images of them with the kids, and of them camping and kissing. Well, a week later, there she is back with her husband… ummmmm… Okay!?
It just made her look like a flakey, unreliable person. Now, she may just be a total freak show with the men, but awesome at what she does, well, what are you going to remember about her? Yupper, the whole wild woman scandal thing… of course, right?!
We’re human, it is what it is friends. We all make mistakes, but try to minimize who gets to see them. Keep your posts as upbeat and even comical as possible if you are able to do that. People want to have a break from their reality. They will follow you closely, and support you, if you are positive, funny & exciting to watch. If you are whining and a drain on all the life inside them, they will quickly UNFOLLOW you and stop supporting a (perceived) failure like yourself.
Always focus on positivity and what’s going on that is good in your business, with small snippets of your personal life. Don’t put your dirty laundry on the street, and expect others not to say it stinks. You need to put your very best version of yourself out for public consumption. Keep your whining and complaining for your girlfriends or family.
Anyhoo… these are five of my own private lessons, learned by epic fails on my part on a regular basis. If at any time you benefit from the long long list of my mistakes, well SUPER! I am hopeful that I have been of some benefit to you or at least that you are now considering that maybe some of these things will improve what you have going on in your own business.