Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
Ever get that feeling when you do something at work and instantly regret it? Well, you’re not alone. From deleting files to putting in the wrong customer information, there are millions of things that can go wrong in a day. Some of them are minor issues, and might just require a small tweak.
Others, however, could cause your company to go down for hours at a time. Luckily, there are normally ways you can avoid the most catastrophic errors from happening. You don’t need to wait for hindsight to teach you a lesson either: this article has some of the most common yet damaging problems that you’re likely to face as a business and information on how you can stop them from occurring.
1. Losing all your data
It’s the stuff of nightmares: losing everything from customer bank details to years of accounts. If you get hacked, have a corrupted hard drive, or simply your system crashes, what would your business do? While you can’t eliminate the ways your data is attacked, you can ensure that it’s suitably protected.
Get good data backup practices in place: try using the cloud as well as physical hard drives to ensure you’ve got all bases covered. If the worst does happen? Then make sure you’ve got a good backup plan. Use a reputable company like Secure Data Recovery, to help rescue everything you’ve lost. Next time, you’ll know what to do before you suffer the stress of a loss.
2. Not growing fast enough
It’s a tough balance to strike: you don’t want to take on too many challenges and customers than your workload permits. Yet, you don’t want to go stagnant waiting for the perfect opportunities to arise.
Try to dedicate a certain amount of time every day to find new business ventures. This is where a solid business plan will come in useful: if you’ve done all the necessary prep-work, now you’ll just be putting into action, rather than making up plans and strategies on the go.
3. Having too many peaks and troughs
It’s part of business life to have busy periods and quiet ones. However, if you have truly dramatic peaks and troughs, something could be wrong. You shouldn’t be entertaining months of working 20 hours a day – and then months of doing just a few hours a week.
Your business plan should include a steady growth plan, and this must take into account what happens if you get too slow, and how you can stretch work out to stop busy periods taking over your life.
4. Relying on contractors and freelancers
While you’ll be dependent on contractors and freelancers at first, it’s a bad move to stay reliant on them. They’re vital in helping you get up and running, as you won’t have to pay out for the expense of having full-time employees.
However, they won’t have any loyalty to your company, and if the work you’re giving them slows down, they might end up going elsewhere and leaving you in the lurch. Once you’re in a stable financial position, try to recruit part or full-time employees to take over.
5. Running out of money
You might think that this is a bit of an obvious one, but it’s scary how many people start businesses without creating a proper budget first. Whether you’re investing your own capital into your business, or you’ve got investments from others, you need to be ruthless when it comes to dealing with it.
Don’t miss anything out of your original budget you need to include even the smallest details else you’ll end up off-kilter right from the very start. Likewise, don’t think that your investment money will last forever. Use it wisely, and spend it on appropriate items that are going to help you make money.
6. Having a small customer base
You might have one customer that gives you the majority of your income. On the one hand, this is great. You can perfect your service or product to their exact needs, and enjoy a bountiful business relationship.
However, what happens if this customer stops using you? Or goes bankrupt? If your business relies on just a small handful of customers, you could be putting yourself at risk. So, try to expand your customer base as much as you can.
Don’t just think that because you’re hitting targets, you can then back off your growth model: you need as many customers as you can manage if you’re going to be safe.
7. Forgetting to take advice from people
Yes, your business is your baby. No doubt you started it because you’re an expert or very experienced in the field. However, this doesn’t mean that you can go it alone. Everyone needs help from time to time, and whether you’ve got 5 years’ experience or 35, you should still look for advice from people who’ve walked a similar road to your own.
There are plenty of mentor schemes available for SME owners and entrepreneurs. It’s worth seeing if you can get a place on one, so you can get the valuable insights and help from someone who’s encountered the same struggles and challenges as you.
8. Getting too caught up with processes
Processes are important in any company, but in today’s digital age, you need to be able to work in an agile fashion. This doesn’t mean just dropping everything to work on urgent projects, but having some sort of framework in place to help you move in an agile way, and prioritize jobs properly. All of your business systems should have well-defined, clear steps, and each of these steps will form valuable processes.
9. Not moving on
If you do make a big mistake, it’s easy to get caught up in games of “if only”. However, if you spend too long dwelling on the past, you’ll forget to look to the future. When you take your eye off the ball, that’s when your competitors can move in and make big changes without you realizing. So, as hard as it is, just keep your head up and move on. Learn from what went wrong, and put plans in place to stop it from happening again.
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