Lack of Discipline: When you work for yourself, you are the engine that drives your small business. This also means that you kill for your dinner day after day. As an entrepreneur you need to stay on task daily to accomplish your business goals. Don’t believe hype about making millions in your bunny slippers. I believe there’s something psychological and positive that you feel internally when you take a shower and get dressed before you start the day. It’s best to develop routines to avoid distractions. Do not work in a room that has a bed; it is far too inviting to take a nap when the pressure starts getting to you. Especially if you work from home, treat your work hours like you are in a professional office. Try not to run errands during the day or hold off on personal calls until after 5pm.
Lack of Organization: It is amazing how much time you can waste looking for things when you don’t have your files in order. That means your physical files as well as your computer files. Use inbox, outbox and to be filed bins to keep your mail under control. You should also create general computer files and then use subfolders that track information by year. For example, I use a proposals folder and then I have subfolders for each year 2009, 2010, and so on to track my information so that I do not need to re-create contract proposals every time I need one. You should have file folders for your email as well. One of the things I do to cut back on paper waste is to use my http://www.delicious.com account to file articles online that I want to read or refer back to later. You should also have a folder where you keep monthly bank statements and receipts for your bookkeeper to reconcile your account monthly.
Lack of Niche Focus: Too often, small business owners sell to anyone that they think has money as opposed to focusing on a niche target market. You must niche to get rich! You have limited time and resources to hit it big in business; you will have a much better shot at it if you hone in on a specific target customer. You should be able to see the face of your customer and tell a story about her. Where does she live? Does she have children? How much education does she have? Does she use the internet? Does she feel comfortable buying things online? Is she married? How often does she buy what you sell and how much does she usually spend? This is how much detail you should know about your customer to develop a niche marketing strategy.
Lack of a Marketing Plan: In addition to knowing your customer, you need to have a great answer for “Why will they buy from you?” In other words, you need a signature move or secret sauce. There are lots of small business coaches out here, but why do you need the Smallbizlady? Here’s the answer: “After 12 years as an entrepreneur and five years as a business coach, I’ve developed a six-step planning system to help people transition from having a job to starting a business. The Emerson Planning System will help you plan a successful small business.”
Lack of a Business Plan: This is the most common of all things that undermine small businesses. You need a business plan to run a successful small business. In the first few years of a business it is especially important that the business plan be reviewed and updated every 2-3 months to make sure the business is on the right track. Your initial business plan is your hypothesis of what you think is going to happen in your business– and it will change once your business is exposed to the marketplace. Do not treat your business plan like a historical document–use it to run your business.
Melinda Emerson, known to many as “SmallBizLady,” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach and Social Media Strategist who specializes in small business start-up, social media marketing and business development. She hosts #Smallbizchat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs. Melinda also publishes a resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com Her first book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months http://bit.ly/asEgeR was released in March 2010 by Adams Media. For more information http://www.becomeyourownbossbook.com