Five common business failures and how they can be avoided

Kevin Hughes reveals the big mistakes made by companies and discusses how not to make them yourself.

Owning your own business in the UK can feel like you are dodging bullets on a daily basis, especially with terrifying statistics flying around such as one in three UK start-ups failing within the first year. So what are the five most common business failures? And how could they have been avoided in the first place?

1. Unresponsive online

To work as a small business you need to respond to change and embrace new technology and methods of getting your name out there. So businesses that rely on old hat ways of marketing their services and products are going to fall behind, and ultimately into administration, quickly.

Let’s say a restaurant has just opened on a backstreet in town. It’s not obvious to the public and decides to rely on the traditional method of gaining new custom through great food, perfect service and word of mouth by happy customers.

This is a charming notion but in this day and age how will it draw in the customers in the first place when other new restaurants are hitting the internet with local Google adverts, creating supportive apps using services such as appsme and featuring every piece of information a customer might look for on its design-led website? Opening times, a basic menu, location – it’s so simple to put this information up on your website for all to see and this can make or break a business.

Social media is another way for businesses to see and be seen online. Those that respond to customers and actively use Twitter and Facebook, posting updates, sharing interesting and relevant content and offering discount codes, will see the best response and a growing fanbase online, which could turn into customers.

2. Failing to adapt

The same applies offline when it comes to adapting to change, if a competitor is doing something different and seeing results it’s a chance for a business to take a look at its own product or service and adapt to keep up and grow.

It’s important that your business model is a constantly evolving and adapting one. Your original idea and plan was great and has worked so far, but you need to look like a business that moves with the times and embraces new ways of doing things.

If business is good and more hands are needed it’s important that it finds the funds to hire those extra people or risk slipping into a black hole of work which delays results for paying customers and the quality of service provided.

3. Not listening to customers

Customers are the glue that holds your business together and also the buoy that keeps your business boat afloat, so if they have any concerns or ideas then be sure to take these on board. They might have a great idea or are offering some constructive criticism on how you manage a certain service or how your shop/restaurant/office is laid out. You might not agree, but make a note and have a think. They are the outsiders, looking in on your business, you might be so wrapped up in your work that you don’t notice something could be done differently – and better.

4. Not curbing poor practice

You’ve hired a couple of new members of staff, they seemed bright and eager in the interview, they had loads of experience, they arrived punctual and looked smart on their first day and worked hard after that. Fast forward a few months later and things have started to slip, customers have made comments about their attitude or behaviour and questioned their professionalism.

Your employees reflect not only on your business and services but on you too, so if you start to notice cracks in your workforce be sure to sort these out quickly, either with training or meetings to check that they know what is expected of them and if they have any issues or in the worst case scenario, letting people go. A business with a poor customer service reputation will not last long and lose custom quickly and could go under simply because it didn’t throw out a few bad eggs.

It’s important that you also look at yourself and your interaction with employees, after all, a happy workforce is one that will work harder. Keep them informed of any changes in the company, praise them for hard work, organise their schedules and encourage them to take part in staff activity and team building days and activities.

5. Not tracking success

You’ve had a really great month for sales, business is good and your workforce is happy. What did you do differently? Was it that ad you put on Google or your discount code promotions on Facebook? How will you keep up the positive response to your marketing if you don’t keep a close eye on your stats?

Web analytics are valuable insight tools and great ways to understand where your business best lies online. You might get a better response using social media than simply writing a blog on the website, or that content marketing you paid for might have paid off. Being able to measure your success means having the ability to grow further in the following months.

If you make a note of these failures and strive to keep on top of them in your business model there is no reason why you cannot succeed where others have failed.

Kevin Hughes is content editor at Zazzle Media.

Further reading on business errors

Kevin Highes

Kevin Hughes

Kevin Hughes is content editor at Zazzle Media.

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