I have been helping companies launch, market, and earn new sales for over 10-years now and during that time period, I’ve also seen many Founders make the same mistakes before, or shortly after hiring me for advice and coaching. Sometimes the mistake is minor, sometimes the mistake is fatal, and other times we don’t even recognize the mistake until we have already fixed it.
These are the most common, and often most expensive, mistakes I see Founders make.
1. Jumping With Faith That a Net Will Appear…But No Plan To Follow
I am not known for my amazing ability to plan nor my skillful execution of detailed plans. I’d go so far as to say that I don’t like “planning” and I can confidently share that I really hate “details.” For me and the brain that I was born with, the idea of deeply thought out detailed plans makes me want to run in the opposite direction. I don’t like being told exactly what to do and I also don’t like taking the time to slow down to make the most informed decision possible…but, I always have a plan when it comes to my business.
Often, when a new potential client reaches out to me for advice, social media strategy, or some other service we start our conversation with what services their business offers and the differentiating factors that they have identified. The conversation goes swimmingly until we start digging a little deeper and touch on strategy.
Usually, I’ll ask a question like, “How do you plan on getting new customers?” Or “How much can you afford to pay for each new customer or item sold?” Eyes go blank. Voices grow silent and an heir of embarrassment and awkwardness fills the call. The thing they say next is usually a sidestep answer about having built a great website or their friends all told them it’s a good idea. Both of those statements are ok but they don’t substitute for an actual plan.
If you are considering launching your next business or project soon, take a moment and write out what you plan to do to acquire customers, where those customers are, how much they cost to reach, and how many customers you need to keep your doors open. Without a plan, you’ll find yourself keeping busy with lots of “activity” but at some point – no income.
2. Cutting Corners By Hiring Too Cheap, Too Fast, or Taking On Too Much
Some of the best advice I ever received when I was launching Social Impressions was to “Figure out what activity or task you’re the best at in your business and focus on doing that – hire someone to do everything else.”
This doesn’t mean that as a startup you won’t be thrifty and creative with stretching your dollar but for the vast majority of the clients I’ve served, them learning how to do bookkeeping (for instance) was a major waste of time when they could have hired someone else to do for them for around $20/hr.
If you’re a small business owner who is trying to have a successful launch, you are doing yourself a MAJOR disservice by also trying to be a web design expert, SEO expert, social media person, payroll master, graphic design professional, and entrepreneur. It may feel cool to learn how to manipulate WordPress and feel super productive that you now know how to geotag a photo…but what other tasks could have been doing with your unique superpower that you just took attention away from so you could learn a task that you won’t be doing anyhow once your company grows? Services like FiverrPro and Odesk make outsourcing to professional easy. Don’t try to be Wonder Woman – It is not worth it and while you may save a dollar today, you’re losing momentum and growth for tomorrow.
3. Impatient and Unrealistic Growth Goals Without Having the Budget To Fuel The Efforts
I have audited the social media efforts of over 200 companies from around the world and one of the most common reasons they hire me to bestow my magical wisdom is because they want “faster growth.” Here’s the thing, we ALL want faster growth. Here’s the other thing, there’s always going to be someone dressed all in black, with a shiny watch wearing awkwardly tight jeans that are ripped just enough, leaning against a bright yellow Lambo who can sell you the keys to faster growth for just one easy payment of $997.
While deep down, I think we know that this type of “get rich quick” approach to business doesn’t make sense logically, in a moment of impatience we buy their advice/program or offer.
The challenge is, especially with social media, super fast social media growth with thousands of new fans, followers, and admirers takes time, effort, consistency, and yes, I’m sorry to say BUDGET. In the world of social media growth for the average business owner, the name of the game is consistency, strategy, and advertising.
Buying fake followers, fake views, or fake links may feed the soul for that very moment by boosting a vanity number but like any good cheat meal, you’re going to need to eat again the next day, and soon you’ll find you’ve entered into an endless cycle of cheat meals.
Worse, buying fake numbers in social media can permanently damage your social media presence by getting you banned or skewing your pixel data for months to come. Just imagine if you were launching a new product and wanted to show social proof so you purchased a few thousand new fans just so “people knew you’re legit.”
Those new fans you’re buying, which are likely robots, all have a location attached to them. This means when you hire me to figure out why your social media isn’t growing and I go in and look at your analytics I may discover you have a massive fan base in Seychelles, Africa and while you may love visiting that beautiful land of over 115 islands…you probably don’t have interest in trying to sell them your widget or consulting service. Buying likes and fake followers is dangerous and more importantly, unethical. Would you also lie in your business plan? Or lie to your customers? If not, think twice before beefing up your numbers artificially.
For most people, there is no fast way to meaningful success. There will always be people and programs that claim to have those answers but I would be willing to bet that upon deeper reflection you’ll find that if you just keep doing what you’re doing but add in a little more planning, strategy, and counsel, you can make your own path.
Did you know that the Small Business Administration Offers FREE Advising From Local Experts? Why not start there? https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance