As an entrepreneur or small business owner, the New Year is the perfect time to take a step back and evaluate how effectively your business is growing.
In fact, you may have developed several bad business practices without even realizing it.
Whether it’s because you’ve always done things a certain way or you’re handicapped by a knowledge gap, overcoming these barriers to success can increase both your market share and revenue.
If you’re wondering how to grow your company, check out these six tips for breaking bad business habits.
1. Business Owner Burnout: Don’t Let It Happen To You
It’s no secret that much of a young company’s success relies on the founder’s work ethic in the earliest stages.
But when 80-hour work weeks go unchecked for too long, your business can actually begin to suffer.
In fact, research on work-life balance dates at least as far back as Henry Ford in the 1920s.
After studying the company’s factory productivity levels, Ford realized that his employees working five days a week were equally productive (and sometimes even more productive) than when they worked six days.
That’s actually how the American 40-hour work week was born.
When you don’t take any personal time for yourself, whether it’s a relaxing weekend or an extended vacation, eventually your work suffers.
So go ahead: Plan that getaway so you can clear your head, gain a new perspective, and be at your best.
2. Forgetting to Diversify Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing is an effective tool for growing your business, but it can be difficult to know where to focus your efforts.
Invest in your company either by researching new strategies for yourself or hiring an expert who knows how to implement all of the latest tools and trends available.
For example: Even if you don’t think a social media platform is specific for your business’s industry, you might be surprised to learn how it can be leveraged to your advantage.
Effectively growth-hacking multiple social channels is sure to give you an advantage over competitors.
From social media marketing to website optimization, carving out time and money for current and varied marketing strategy is vital to your company’s long-term success.
Once you begin marketing through social channels, you’ll be able to convert your audience to customers– cha-ching!
But don’t go out and invest everything you have in social media just yet; there’s a small caveat you should be mindful of…
3. Falling Prey to Digital Sharecropping
If you truly want to be in control of the conversation between your brand and it’s followers, you must develop your own assets to communicate with customers.
Digital sharecropping happens when you become overly reliant on external websites and apps to reach your audience.
Think about it:
What would you do if your company’s Facebook page was deleted tomorrow?
Would you still be able to contact your audience?
While external sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and others should be part of a healthy marketing mix, it’s risky to leave the fate of your brand in the hands of a third-party.
Kick the habit by driving them to your own independently-hosted website, capturing email addresses, and establishing direct communication with regular emails.
4. Not Developing Corporate Protocols
Startup growth can happen quickly and you might be flying by the seat of your pants through the early stages.
But as your company matures, you should begin to mold your corporate culture through formalized protocols and procedures.
This is particularly important as you begin to grow your staff beyond the original founding team.
Developing documented procedures and leading by example helps your business in a few different ways:
- First off, corporate protocols will help you to build a recognizable brand (both internally and externally.)
- In addition, the brand you build will shape your corporate culture, which in turn will help foster employee loyalty.
- Establishing procedures also helps to recruit top talent as you continue to expand; if your business seems too chaotic, prime candidates may be hesitant to leave a more stable work environment.
Don’t be intimidated: Pop open your laptop and and start pulling together a mission statement, core values, and even an employee handbook.
5. Paying Business Expenses With A Personal Checking Account
When you’re in the start-up phase with your business, you may not have particularly complex accounting needs.
This could lead to simply using your personal checking and credit accounts when managing your company’s expenses.
But just because it’s convenient doesn’t mean it’s best-practice!
Keeping personal and business accounts separate is a must for every entrepreneur and business owner.
Most importantly, it keeps your finances organized, which is going to be helpful when tax time rolls around.
You don’t have to worry about scouring files for invoices to prove revenue, and you won’t lose money by forgetting to list all of your expenses.
Not to mention, you’ll be ready in case you’re flagged for an audit by the IRS.
6. Neglecting Your Finances
Speaking of your company’s finances… you always pay your bills on time, right?
Deploying the capital to handle business expenses on time should be a top priority for anyone running a legitimate business.
If you’re paying your vendors and service providers late every month, it could be indicative of an underlying cash-flow problem.
Increasing Business Expenses
By habitually paying bills late, you incur unnecessary expenses in the form of penalties and fees.
Endangering Your Business Reputation
Paying bills late– It’s just bad business.
Your vendors and other professional relationships could really suffer if you can’t manage to pay your bills on time.
Limiting Your Future Financial Options
Bad financial habits can lead to more expensive or even missed opportunities in the future too.
If you ever need to apply for a business loan or business credit card, the creditor will review your company’s credit report and score to determine your approval and rates.
Neglecting your monthly bills will set you up for more expensive financing, or worse— not getting approved at all.
The startup phase of your company is such an exciting time, but if you’re letting bad habits shape your business, then you may want to ask yourself this:
Who is really in control?
Whether you’re still in startup mode or you’ve been in business for years, there’s no better time than the present to create a solid foundation on which your business can keep growing.