Did you know that 50% of small businesses fail after five years and 70% of small business owners fail in their tenth year? How do you beat the odds?  

First, you need to take a hard look at where you are now and where you want to go. One thing is for sure, you’ll never be successful if you’re always working IN your business, not ON your business. 

How much time should you spend and what marketing strategies work the best? Ask 100 business owners and you’ll get 100 different answers. But most will agree on this: 

To grow your business, you must Work ON your business. And, you need to follow a plan.

5 Common Mistakes Business Owners Make When They Want to Grow

1.  You’re not crystal clear on a growth plan. Clarity is key to growing a business. You have to know who you are, what you stand for, what you sell, what problem you solve, and why you’re the person or company to call. If you’re not clear, your messaging and marketing efforts will be ineffective. 

Having a marketing and action plan to grow your business and increase sales is essential. Without it, you’re randomly throwing darts at a wall, never hitting the target. Research your product and service. Identify your top three ideal audiences. Look at industry trends. Put some time into competitive analysis. 

What are your top business and personal goals? What makes your brand a better choice? What outreach will give you the biggest bang for the buck?  

2.  You’re all over the place.  As a business owner, you wear multiple hats.  If you wear the same hats 24/7, you’ll have a perpetual bad hair day and exhaust yourself mentally and physically. The problem with trying to do too many things is that you’ll eventually resent your business, and that’s a recipe for disaster. 

To eliminate overwhelm and the bright shiny object syndrome, strengthen your daily focus by outlining your most important priorities, concentrate on one task at a time, and learn how to delegate. You can’t do everything yourself nor should you. Burnout out happens when you think you’re the only one who can do it all. Perfect is a myth. Better to be a recovering perfectionist, do your best, and let it go.  

Focus is a skill that can be improved by discipline and following a well-thought-out plan. Work on projects that give you the highest return on your time. Delegate less important work to your team, interns or virtual assistants. And, set up realistic goals that you can meet to track your progress. 

3.  You don’t have a solid brand or message. You’d be surprised by the number of small businesses that don’t have a website or have one that’s outdated, not in line with the company’s services.  Some think that investing in a website isn’t a priority and that sales don’t come from there.  

Newsflash. If you don’t have a professional website clearly tells the world what you do, you’re in for a rude awakening. Prospects and customers will almost always check you out online before they do business with you or refer you as a trusted resource. Maintain an up-to-date website that’s error free and provide multiple points of contact.

Another must-have is to create consistent messaging that a visitor can understand. Some marketers develop a language bank of phrases, taglines, quotes, snippets, and tips to draw from over and over again. Why recreate the wheel and harm integrity of your brand? Brand guidelines are also important. Create a folder to keep all your logos, graphics, social templates and their corresponding digital colors (HEX codes) in one place. Use it wisely and you’ll never get a call from the brand police. 

4.  You’re haven’t developed an advocate marketing system. Create a list of the 20 most important people in your life who can impact your business in a positive way. Make sure they understand what you do and how you define your business. Then, put together a list of twelve things you can do over the next twelve months to stay connected on a regular basis, every thirty days. 

Set up a monthly schedule and vary your contact methods. Send news and updates, email articles, deliver a gift or invitation, make a personal call, refer a prospect, write a recommendation or review, like and mention them on social, share your accomplishments, and so on. Don’t worry about the time commitment. Three to four hours a month should build a solid referral machine, that benefits you both. 

Every year, evaluate your advocates and update your list. As in life, “you meet someone for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” Enjoy the reciprocal relationship. That’s how business friends are born. 

5.  You’re not using social media to its full advantage. How you feel about social media will determine the amount of time, effort, and resources you’ll allot to social media marketing. As a minimum, choose two to three platforms that you’ll use on a regular basis and align your messaging with your brand personality, keeping in mind what your target market wants and is used to. Competitive research will show you metrics to make informed decisions.  

Profiles on your chosen social platforms should be optimized for search, social branding should be consistent from platform to platform, and a content marketing editorial calendar will allow you to pre-plan your posts, graphics, and video for specific campaigns. Automation tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, help to automate the process.

If you think video is beyond your reach, think again. 87% of marketers use video and will invest more in coming years. It’s the most watched media and outperforms any other types of posts. A plus is that when you consistently post on YouTube, you’ll likely increase your organic search ranking. Upload a weekly blog and add content to Google My Business, and you’re on your way to mastering the secrets of free PR and publicity — and having Google love you. 

Bottom line: There are other common mistakes entrepreneurs make when they want to grow their business. Being slow to make a decision. Excessively worrying about the competition. Not having enough funding. Or living the life of a millionaire, when it’s best to conserve cash. 

You can start a business by yourself, but you can’t grow it by yourself. You need support, a solid team, and a plan to win. Follow the path, tweak when you need it, and enjoy the ride. 

You’re driving the bus.

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