Everyone makes mistakes in life, it’s human nature. The problem is when you make a mistake in business you may not know it happened and you may not find out about it for months or sometimes even years later. As a start up, most of your inspiration and energy derives from your product or service that you want to release into the world. Running the business is almost secondary. You often end up in situations that are brand new or that you couldn’t predict. As owner of The Van That Can, a Queensland removals and delivery company, here are my top 5 mistakes to avoid when you start a business.
Not knowing your numbers
Some people are do not feel comfortable with their numbers, they either don’t understand them or live in a world of “if I’m working 50 hours a week of course I am making money”. This just isn’t true. Knowing your numbers is the most vital part of your job, even at a basic level. If your product/service isn’t being sold for enough money, it doesn’t matter how many items you sell you will still be loosing money. Often businesses find extra revenue without any improvement to their product/service but a simple tweak in the price can have a large impact over a year. The same goes the other way, you might think that your .50 cents under charged is no big deal but id you are selling 1 product/service and hour, 38 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that adds up to just under $1000. The reality people don’t undercharge by .50c, it is often far greater than that.
Doing what you love
The person that said that you should do what you love or follow your passion should, in my opinion, be shot. It is the worst advice in the world. Just because you love knitting cute hats for your cat doesn’t mean you have a business idea. Alternatively I do believe that you need to be passionate about your business as it will consume your whole life, and no one enjoys doing things they hate.
Ignoring your customers
Without customers, you don’t have a business. Simple. Customers are the be all and end all of your business, and this includes internal customers like staff and shareholders. Assuming that a customer will come back to you time and time again is old fashioned. People can compare prices, whilst they are stood in your store looking at your product. You need to go above and beyond to prove to them that you are the best person/product/service for their job and treat them as if they are your number one customer, because even if they are not now, they might become it in the future.
When you start a business there are so many fun things to do; choosing logo colours and fonts; website design; telling everyone you’re an entrepreneur; going to networking events every single night; Facebook; “product research”. The distractions are endless and you no longer have a boss keeping you accountable. Here at The Van That Can, we have a schedule and task list that can be seen by everyone in the office. This includes personal and business meetings as well as the jobs the guys on the road are completing, this ensures that all tasks are completed in the time allocated and that sufficient time is allocated to complete the task. Using tools such as https://app.asana.com/ will also keep you on track and send you automatic reminders when deadlines are due.
Not keeping it simple
Every part of your business needs to be as simple as possible, for ease to the customer and expansion of your business. Often startups create these complex and expensive processes and procedures that deter customer purchase and make it difficult to expand. A problem often looks complex because it hasn’t been mastered yet. Making the complicated look simple is what will keep your customers happy.
Tara-Jay Rimmer is the founder of The Van That Can, the ultimate delivery and removal company.