13 common mistakes to avoid when launching your small business
As a small business owner, there are lots of mistakes you’ll make while trying to start your business. Which is completely normal as there are so many decisions that go into a launch.
Some mistakes will teach you valuable lessons on how to run your business moving forward, and where it’s best to focus your efforts. Others may set you back in terms of time and money.
Hopefully, by the time you finish reading this article you’ll know which common mistakes to avoid making when launching your own small business.
1. Holding off until everything is perfect
Waiting for weeks, months or even years before putting your product or service into the world is a common mistake. If you put off the launch of your business until everything is “ready” or “perfect”, your business might never see the light of day.
It’s perfectly normal to be afraid or to feel like your service or product could be better, but the only way to find out what potential customers think about it is to get it out there. You’ll then have the opportunity to get user feedback which can help you to build a stronger, more desirable product or service.
But if you wait too long to launch, you won’t get a chance to see what people think about it. So, launch now and improve as you go along.
2. Basing your pricing on your competitors
While you’ll need to do a competitor analysis to see where similar businesses stand, basing your pricing on others is a mistake. Many first-time business owners believe that they need to beat their competitors by providing the same products or services but at the lowest price.
Here’s a good reason why you shouldn’t take this road. Say you’re launching a web design consultancy business and you use this approach. It won’t be long until you realise that you’re spending more time with those who haggle with you over price than clients who are genuinely interested in the quality work you can offer.
Bottom line: always base your pricing on the unique value you can provide to prospects, and not on your competitors’ pricing.
3. Not having a launch plan
A launch can be overwhelming, with so many things to do and the stress of it all. So it’s easy to forget an important step like sending out a press release or getting a particular web page live.
That’s why having a plan is crucial to a successful launch. When you have everything mapped out beforehand, you won’t have to worry about forgetting a step.
4. Launching in secret
If you’re the only one who knows about your launch, how do you think it’s going to go?
It’s ok to be afraid of negative feedback. But here’s the thing: if you stay in your bubble and launch in secret, you’ll get no feedback at all. How is that helpful?
So start by getting your friends and family involved by asking them to spread the word online and offline about the business you’re launching. This will not only help you to get in front of more people, but their support will help you to push through.
Then use free and paid platforms like social media, forums and groups, influencers, media publications and Google to get the exposure you need. Make sure to take the various courses available in our Online Business Training to learn about all the ways you can use social media, pay-per-click advertising and email marketing to spread the word about your new business.
5. Only telling people once
If you only tell people about your new business once, they’ll probably think about you… once. But if you tell them again and again, you’ll stay top-of-mind, which means the next time they need your product or service, they’ll think of you and reach out to you instead of your competitors.
6. Using only one channel to communicate
Marketing can take many forms, from word-of-mouth, to traditional advertising to online marketing. The biggest mistake you can make is only using one channel when there are so many that can prove to be effective for your business.
So if you only use LinkedIn to announce the launch of your business, and expect the traffic to come flooding in after you publish a few updates, you’re doing it wrong. Few people will learn about your new business and fewer will visit your website if you’re only using one or two channels to spread the word about your launch.
Your potential customers hang out in different places. They may get their information via their inbox, social networks like LinkedIn or Twitter, or via search engines like Google and Yahoo!.
So, do some research to find out where your prospects are spending time online and sites/ groups/ forums they use to get their daily digest and engage with others, and be present where they are.
7. Assuming people know what you’re offering
Never assume that people know what your business is about. So when you’re writing ads or updates on Facebook, or when you’re emailing prospects about your new business, be very clear about what it is that you’re offering.
But instead of listing all the features of a product, focus on the specific problem that your product or service can solve for customers. For example, if you’re selling mattresses, what you’re actually selling is a better night’s sleep. Make that clear in every message you put out there about your new business.
It’s perfectly normal to be excited about your business and the pains that your products or services can solve for customers. But if you’re overpromising, you’ll only end up disappointing people and earning a bad reputation just as you’re starting out.
So if you make a promise to your prospects like “you’ll receive a response in 24 hours” or “your product will be delivered to your door in two days”, make sure you can fulfil this promise. The only way to build trust, especially as a new business, is to always be honest with yourself and your prospects by laying out genuine expectations.
“It takes money to make money.” You’ve probably heard this saying often, and in many ways it’s true. But, unfortunately, this common belief can make a small business owner fall prey to gross overspending, especially in the first few months of business.
The reality is that while, yes, it does take money to make money, you need to always consider the cost-benefit of every single expense.
- Do you really need to hire an agency to build you a fancy website with all the bels and whistles or would you be better off using a website builder like the one from 123 Reg where you can use ready-made templates and get your site up and running even with no technical skills?
- Do you really need to buy all your images or can you use free ones or even take them yourself? This article includes the ultimate list of places to source images for all budgets, from free to more expensive ones.
- Do you have thousands of pounds to invest in Google ads or should you maybe start with a small budget to see what works for you?
- Are you investing in Facebook ads because you know your targeting audience is there? Or are you doing it because everyone else is?
Create a realistic budget and stick to it. This way, when you have the impulse to overspend, you can go back to your budget and calculate how much those purchase can set you back. You may decide that you don’t need that fancy website after all, and one that looks nice and works well will do for now.
At the same time, refusing to spend much of anything on your business is a mistake. While there are lots of ways to start and grow a business with limited funds, going too far and not investing any kind of capital in it can limit your potential for success.
11. Not setting goals
This is non-negotiable. What do you want out of this launch? How many visitors, sales, customers, blog readers, Facebook fans do you want to gain? Make sure you set some numbers so you can then adjust your strategy depending on the results. This guide includes some great tips on how to set marketing goals, so make sure to check it out.
12. Not testing your website
Whether you’re launching an online shop or a simple website, make sure to double-check everything before you go live. Have a few friends click all the buttons and links on your new site, sign up for your mailing list, and go through the process of filling out a form or purchasing a product to ensure everything works properly. If there are glitches, it’s better to find and fix them now than when a customer is having an issue.
13. Not tweaking as you go
As your launch unfolds, there are bound to be things that pop up that need your attention. It’s ok to change things midway. So, be flexible and if you have to tweak, do it.
And remember one thing: your launch never ends. That’s because your launch will forever be in a state of continuous improvement based on user feedback and the results you get.
Don’t expect miracles. No matter what, you’ll make mistakes, and that’s ok. The key to success, however, lies within learning from your mistakes and adjusting your strategy as you move forward.
What other business mistakes do you think people make when launching a business? Tweet us @123Reg.