Small Business: How Not to Do It

| By:

wrongThere are countless “How To” and “Top Ten” (or some other number) articles on the subject of starting up, sustaining, and growing a small business. We thought it might be fun to take a different tack and instead deliver some great ideas on how to at best stall your small business, at worst end up having to close your doors.

Don’t waste time figuring out the vision or mission of your business. That way you won’t have even the most basic foundation necessary for making good business decisions. Instead, because you have no idea why your business exists, that lack of purpose will ensure you keep chasing your own tail instead of move your business forward.

Planning is for sissies. We all know small business owners are risk takers. Where’s the fun in lowering risk or having a clue as to where your business is really at? Who cares if you can accurately measure whether or not you’re making progress or falling behind?

Accounting and budgets are boring. Business isn’t about budgets, business is about making money. You’re a business owner, not a bean counter. Just figure out your breakeven point and you’ll be good.

Managing employee performance is stifling. So what if you’re not exactly sure if the work your employees actually perform is enough to pay their salaries? It’s all about creativity and innovation.

You know what your customers want better than they do. After all, you’re the expert here. You’re the one who came up with the “great idea.” Now all you’ve got to do is sell it. Piece of cake.

More is always better. Great cash flow? Only makes sense to spend it on expanding the business – and the faster the better. All those stories about going bankrupt due to growing too fast are a lot of bunk. The inability to deliver as quickly or lowering quality standards are just temporary growing pains.

Let the tail wag the dog. Of course keeping all those balls in the air at one time is challenging. Working those 50-70 hour weeks is just the way it is. It isn’t that you can’t delegate, it’s just that you can get those routine tasks done faster and do it better. Yes, that means you’ve got to let some bigger fish go that could grow the business – but it’s only temporary. It’s normal to feel like the business is running you instead of the other way around most of the time.

It can be fun to take a lighter look at what not to do, but don’t be fooled into thinking all the above don’t represent what can be very serious threats to the health of your small business. About 95% of new small businesses will fail within the first five years and census data indicates about 170,000 small businesses closed between 2008 and 2010. You don’t have to join them. Common reasons for small business failures include:

  • No clear vision, mission, or purpose.
  • No written plan.
  • No or poorly constructed budgets and accounting oversight.
  • Mismanagement of employees.
  • Lack of customer and market knowledge.
  • Poor marketing and customer service practices.
  • Little or no sales knowledge or training.
  • Too rapid or pre-mature expansion
  • Inability of business owner to delegate routine tasks and take on a more strategic role.

There are remedies for all of the above – including making it your business to learn “How To” as well as the “Top” best practices for operating and growing a successful small business.

Last modified: April 11, 2013
Annie Kile

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: Insider's perspective, MPR Authored, sales, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, startups, strategies, Tips