Your business may be small compared to a national chain, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake to run. As the leader, you make decisions every day that affect your livelihood — all while balancing a limited budget against the needs of your company.
Luckily, you can learn what to do and what not to do from businesses that have come before when you’re running a small or medium-sized business (SMB). Instead of finding out the hard way the negative impact these four mistakes can have on your SMB, avoid them from the start.
#1: Missing Out on the Benefits of an Optimized Website
According to a survey from CNBC, nearly half of small businesses (45 percent) lack a business website. Only about one-third of SMBs (36 percent) are using their websites to “communicate news to customers and potential customers.”
Here are some of the key elements of an effective business website:
- Speedy load times on desktop and mobile devices
- Copy and images that communicate your brand
- An “About Us” landing page that tells your company story
- A “Contact Us” landing page that invites visitors to message you
- An e-commerce checkout (if applicable)
If you’re still operating without a website — or your business has an outdated or mobile-unfriendly website — you’re missing out on the opportunity to build relationships with new and existing customers.
#2: Trying to Appeal to Every Type of Customer
Trying to appeal to everyone is a recipe for appealing to no one in particular. Plus, casting a wide net and hoping to catch whatever you can get ends up costing more in terms of customer acquisition.
A savvier approach is honing in on your target audience — that subset of people to whom your services are most useful and appealing. This will ensure your products, services, and marketing messages resonate deeply with this customer segment and drive them to action.
Think in terms of demographics: age, gender, income level, spending habits, location, hobbies, lifestyle, occupation, family situation, etc. For instance, a landscaping design company could target affluent, middle-aged homeowners who are too busy to maintain their own lawns, but are willing to spend money to make sure their yards stay flawless. Instead of making low prices the selling point, this landscaping business would market its ability to deliver high-end, convenient services.
#3: Operating Without Small Business Insurance
A single lawsuit can topple a small business, or at least put it in a precarious financial situation. Small business insurance plans act as safeguards against certain kinds of risk. As an example, a General Liability insurance policy from Verifly will protect SMBs against expenses associated with bodily harm, property damage, or advertising injury to a third party.
The exact types of insurance your company needs will depend on your industry and size. However, operating without the SMB insurance you need is a mistake: a single accident could cost you your company.
#4: Pricing Your Products or Services Incorrectly
Charging too much for your products or services will dampen your sales. Meanwhile, charging too little will put a dent in your profit margins — as well as devalue your offerings in the eyes of your customers.
Start by running a competitive analysis to see what your competitors are charging. Factor in the wants and needs of your target audience. Consider the shifting demand for your products over time, too. You’ll also need a precise assessment of the costs you’ll encounter so you can price for profitability.
Yes, you will make mistakes as a small business owner; it’s just part of the gig. But you can avoid these four by optimizing your website, carrying liability insurance, identifying your target audience, and pricing your products well.