Where Businesses Fall Short

By: Molly Berton

1. No vision. Successful businesses have a clear vision or picture of their business purpose and mission. Your vision serves as a roadmap to help you see where you are today in relationship to where you want to be tomorrow. Your business plan serves as the mechanism that will help you to bridge the gap. When you don't have a clear vision as to why you're in business or where you intend to take your business, it's like taking a road trip without a map.
2. No niche. One of the most common reasons for business failure stems from having a poorly defined niche. A niche can refer to a target market or to an area of specialization. When businesses fail to target a specific group of consumers, they risk being attractive to no one. Perhaps it has its underpinnings in the saying, “You can't please everyone.”

3. No business plan. Your business plan is your strategy. It includes many important items like defining your business niche and target market, your marketing plan, financial projections, staffing, investments, as well as the benefits and features of your products and services.

4. No marketing plan. A marketing plan outlines the steps you intend to take to sell your product or service. Marketing is fundamental to your company's success. Without it, you won't have any customers or clients. For this reason, it's critical to spend the extra effort to develop one.

5. No marketing calendar. This item is a subset of the overall marketing plan. It is critical to any marketing effort in that it schedules when you intend to implement various marketing strategies. By having a calendar, you'll be more organized about how you go about marketing.

6. No action. Taking action is the foundation of progress. Without it you will have no clients and ultimately no business. Sometimes business owners get caught up in process so that they are unable to make decisions. Other times they suffer from being perfectionists and don't implement ideas because they don't think they are good enough.

7. No customer service program. You're in business only because you have customers or clients. In order to get business and to maintain it, it's important to have a customer service program. A program can include anything from the methods you use to gain new clients, to how you service them once they are your clients.

8. No strategic partners. Successful business owners don't go it alone. They associate, partner, and network with other highly successful and exceptional people. Partnering with others is a way to quickly expand the reach of your own business.

9. No ways of monitoring progress. You cannot manage what you cannot monitor or measure. Every business needs to identify its key success factors. It might be the number of products sold, the number of service hours provided, the number of signups generated from an email campaign, or even the perception of your business in the local community.

10. No professional approach. Successful businesses develop systems to deal with all aspects of business operations. Whether it's a system for marketing products or services, or a system for dealing with customer orders or complaints, policies and procedures serve to make business run more smoothly.

11. No commitment to learning. There is no place for complacency when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Successful business owners search constantly for new and better ways to get clients as well as to serve the ones they already have. By committing yourself to learning and to implementing what you learn, you're committing yourself to success in all parts of your business.

12. No follow up. Business owners that don't follow up with clients and customers are perceived as inattentive, uncaring, and unprofessional. Lack of follow up is a surefire way to lose clients and to ensure that you won't be referred any new ones. Following up is fundamental to creating great, long-term customer relationships. Not only does it show that you respect your clients, it is a standard of excellence among business professionals.

13. No consistency. Consistent action is one of the most important habits to cultivate if you truly desire business success. First, you must be committed to the long-term - that it will take time to build up your business. But more importantly, you must be committed to taking consistent action - taking the steps to market yourself on a regular basis. The only way to be heard above the “noise' of thousands of other marketing messages is for potential customers to see and hear about you on a regular basis.

14. No way to monitor website activity. The success of your website is dependent on multiple visits and repeat visits to your website. In order to determine the effectiveness of your website, it's important to monitor which parts of your website are attracting the most traffic. Successful companies use various tracking software programs to see which pages are visited most often and which links are clicked most frequently.

15. Not willing to ask for the sale. Without sales, you won't be in business. No matter how skillful you are with running the day-to-day business operations, if you don't sell your products or services, you won't need to worry about running a business for long. All of the marketing efforts in the world won't create customers who are beating down your door to buy from you. The most important action to take, however, is simply to ask for the sale.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

It’s important to understand the right way to divide up equity in a start-up. Early mistakes can lead to serious long-term problems that can destroy a company. The book Slicing Pie outlines a simple process for making sure each employee and co-founder gets exactly the amount of equity they deserve.

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Molly Berton is a business woman and engaged herself in writing articles about business and start-up equity to help aspiring entrepreneurs like her build their own businesses.

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