When you first start a new business, you’re full of hope and dreams. Over time, the reality of day-to-day tasks sets in and may make the dream seem more of a nightmare. Even if your business is currently floundering, there are some things you can do to recover. If it is flourishing, now is the time to avoid these pitfalls.
What Are Bad Practices in Business?
The latest Edelman Trust Barometer survey looked at 36,000 respondents in 28 countries. They found 80% of people will invest in a business based on their beliefs and values. While you should be careful not to alienate half your customer base with hot political topics, it’s okay to care about something passionately and take strides toward making the world a better place.
Even when people don’t agree with your views, they may respect your passionate stance. The key to earning consumer trust is being consistent. It’s hard to stick to the course if you only make decisions based on what you feel is popular. Instead, make sure you are true to yourself.
- Give honest reviews of your product
- Don’t try to hide behind popular trends and not fix problems your customers have
- Mean what you say and ensure your actions follow your words
Consider your business through the eyes of your audience, and you’ll be less likely to engage in poor practices that damage your reputation. Some of the other things that might kill your business include:
1. Poor Marketing
If you don’t get the word out about your brand, people won’t know it’s there or how to find you. You must embrace a marketing strategy that reaches those most likely to buy your product.
Do regular checks to see what activities give you the most return on investment (ROI). Repeat the things that work and lose the ones that don’t.
2. Churning Customers
An unchecked customer churn rate is a silent business killer that can hurt your ROI before you realize what’s happening. Pay attention to how many people bounce away and never buy from you a second time. You can’t fix the issues if you don’t know what they are, so reach out to those who’ve left and gone to a competitor.
Dig into your customer complaints. What have your clients griped about in the past year or two to customer service? Were those issues fixed or are they ongoing?
Send out surveys and find out what you can do to improve things. The best way to keep your customers is to make them feel appreciated and as though they receive good value for their money.
3. Lacking Innovation
It’s hard to build a strong business on a single product or service. Over time, the idea stagnates, competitors copy your idea and you slowly lose momentum. If you aren’t coming up with new products or advances to your software as a service model, you risk treading water and slowly drowning.
Ask what other needs your customer base has? How can you find new things to offer them that make their lives better? If you aren’t creating new things or features, you risk killing your business.
4. Losing Top Employees
It takes a lot of time and money to train excellent staff. Even the work environment can aggravate some employees. Some studies show even things such as keeping the temperature at a comfortable 72 degrees can increase productivity and create a comfortable workspace.
When you lose one of your well-trained workers to a competitor, you have to spend time and money recruiting and training someone new. Your entire team may lose momentum during the process, reducing productivity and thus customer satisfaction.
It’s much better to keep your skilled staff long-term. Your business will grow faster and stronger when you do.
5. Toxic Employees
While you want to retain top staff members, keep in mind that toxic employees or a poor work culture can drive customers away and slowly kill your business. Customers don’t want to deal with drama.
One example might be a worker who gripes to the customer about the other person on the team or makes the other employee seem incompetent. Why would your clients want to work with someone unskilled? They may just leave and go to a competitor next time.
Toxic people can infect an entire workplace, trickle down to customer relationships and destroy your business from within. They sometimes arrive in the form of a manager who doesn’t respect their employees. Other times they are the worker who doesn’t fit well with your company culture.
6. Costs Versus Revenue
Cash flow issues have long been cited as a major reason for business failure. A recent survey on the state of small business found 69% of owners have under $5,000 set aside for a rainy day or crisis. How can you combat the tendency toward not having enough cash on hand?
Every quarter, do a check of what money goes out and what comes in. Spending too much on things is one of the surest ways to create a cash flow issue. However, you might also run into problems with clients paying invoices.
Analyze what you can spend less on. Can you go with a less expensive supplier? Do you really need the water delivery service?
Pay attention to any clients who consistently pay invoices late. If your staff has to spend precious time running after money you’re owed, it can take attention away from more important tasks. It’s a good rule of thumb to part ways with any clients who consistently cost you time or money.
Get Outside Audits
Small business owners may not have the time to fully analyze all the ways their business could improve. Hiring an outside firm or even having a mentor look things over can help you catch minor issues before they become huge problems. Over time, your business will grow strong and thriving and you’ll be glad you put in the extra effort.
Eleanor Hecks is the founder and managing editor of Designerly Magazine. She’s also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience and user interface. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dogs, Bear and Lucy. Connect with her about marketing, design and/or tea on LinkedIn.