Nowadays there's a flood of "ultra successful" small business owners. Some of them sell courses on success, while most of them build personal brands on Instagram.

In a money-oriented culture, people tend to imagine entrepreneurs like gods who live their wildest dreams – effortlessly sipping cold mojitos on a sunny beach with Macs in their laps while money keeps pouring in from the sky.

Beach at Los Angeles, California, United States
Photo by Joe Cooke / Unsplash

So they jump straight into the bandwagon of entrepreneurship, Β thinking that managing a small business is like a walk in the park.

Although there are certainly those who enjoy these benefits, we usually forget the other side of the coin.

We overlook the effort it takes to get to a point where you're afloat.

Taxes. Decisions. Good and bad. Flops. Small victories. Sleepless nights. Working 14 hours straight.

Small business is a rocky road from the start

A good enough proof for that is that 20% of businesses shut down in first year.

statistics from Dropship Lifestyle, 90% of businesses fail within 120 days, 80% of businesses survive their first year
Source: Drop Ship Lifestyle

And if you're smart enough, you know this and you won't fall into a trap of thinking that managing a business is all roses and unicorns.

Let's say you've opened a small business.

Like every smart first-time entrepreneur, you've probably armed yourself with patience and valuable pieces of advice.

You've made an awesome product or a good service, based on your needs or gut instincts about the market.

Started selling it. Friends and family supported you from the get-to.

There's smile on you're face because you know you've made all the smart decisions. First year went great.

Whew, you're not into those 20% of failed companies.

And just when you were about to lay back and post pictures on Instagram with hashtags like #entrepreneurslife, things get tense.

Numbers don't grow. What happened? Where are the laurels?

That's it. You've reached a tipping point of every business, and it's hard to swallow.

Gut-based decisions and initial info don't cut it

Your instinct has led you so far. The initial info and advice have served you well.

But without further serious planning and learning business & marketing Β 201, even the smartest among us start playing the wrong moves.

A team sitting in an office, a woman pointing to a whiteboard full of sticky notes
Photo by You X Ventures / Unsplash

On top of that, without mastering your emotional intelligence, you're even not going to spot the mistakes. You're going to start fooling yourself.

I've seen this so many times before. It happened to a lot of smart people I know.

Heck, I even made some of the mistakes myself.

Now I'm going to share these mistakes with you in hopes you will avoid them.

1. Pinning all hope on Word of Mouth, not investing in online presence at all

We all know some Jessica who owns a catering service and needs no website or a page on social media because she has enough customers already.

In fact, 49% of small business owners tend do think that they don't need a website or a social media page.

Look, your business might have grown. Friends and family are buying from you regularly. Maybe their colleagues from work as well.

But that's all you can expect. Especially now during the Corona crisis, when people can't visit your store.

empty shelves in a market
Photo by πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­ Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum / Unsplash

Don't wait for a Word of Mouth to spread. Build your presence online and make people aware of your existence.

2. Avoiding selling and pitching at all costs

When people think of selling or pitching, the first thing that comes to mind are sleazy car dealers, yelling and promising the moon.

caption from a sleazy car salesman video, man showing his index finger, in front of the car

So they shy away, and although they've established relationship with their prospects, they never offer them anything. That's it, no sales.

They fall into a "dangerous friendzone of selling". Remember those nice guys from high school who are always supportive, tell great jokes and always listen – but never ask a girl out?

And then they get ultra-friendzoned.

That's what you're doing with your prospects if you're not "asking them out".
You've met. You've talked. You're a business. People KNOW that you're going to sell.

So why not?

Don't be afraid. You don't have to be a sleazy salesman. If you're honest and you really have something valuable that's going to improve somebody's life – go for it.

3. Blinded by pride and sweet talk

Oh, the typical sin of those praised endlessly by their family members and friends.

"Oh yes, I like it, you're great, you're the best, honey"

"Yeah, mate, you rock"

Look, it's nice to have someone praise you all the time. But sometimes our loved ones tend to sugarcoat things, so we miss a wider perspective or room for improvement.

Pug in a blanket
Hey there, little snowflake. Photo by Matthew Henry / Unsplash

That builds a nasty habit of avoiding criticism at all costs.

Leave your safe bubble from time to time and ask your customers what they think.

(And learn to accept criticism.)
You'll learn a lot.

4. Over-Rationalizing Business Mistakes and Blaming Others

Business mistakes are completely normal.

I repeat.

Completely normal.

Even the guys from the big league make them.
Take Kodak for example. They had a first digital camera back in 1977.

For some reason, they decided NOT to introduce it to the market. The rest is history.

Now you probably won't make that kind of mistake, whatever you do. But you will make mistakes. The sooner you accept that, the better.

Yet, many smart business owners out there over-rationalize their mistakes and blame other.

Probably because they've made so many smart decisions so far.
It's hard to admit that we're plainly wrong.

"It's the market/the economy"

"If it weren't for this or that"

"If I just had more time"

If this, if that... Nope. It's a mistake. Live with that. Own up to it and move forward.

5. Believing that a product or service is market-proof and not doing any market research

Without determining and revising a product/service - market fit at least twice per year, don't expect any greater success in growing your business.

People change. So their needs. If you don't adapt to it, be sure that your competition will do.

World cup triathlon, two men running, one trying to run faster than the other
Photo by Victoire Joncheray / Unsplash

There isn't a minimum number of market researches you need to make. Market research doesn't have to be even expensive or time-consuming.

Not even a separate process:

  • Make a website,
  • write blogs,
  • send out email surveys to your customers,
  • read reviews,
  • collect feedback...

That will do. You'll have a much clearer picture if that's what you're doing good or not.

It all pays off in the end

None of us is perfect. But if you endure and learn to adapt along the way, trust me, it's worth it.

This time next year, we'll share a picture on Instagram with hashtag #richEntrepreneur, Rodney! πŸ’°