Home' Border Enterprise : Winter-Spring 2010 Contents 36 enterprise
EVERYONE bungles sometimes. If you
are lucky, you only make a few trivial
mistakes that can be fixed easily,
enabling you to regroup fast.
If not, especially in a volatile post-
downturn economy, your small business might
wind up in the crowded enterprise graveyard. The
proportion that fail is pegged at between 50 per
cent and 80 per cent: proof how easy it is to lose
direction, if any existed in the first place.
Often, entrepreneurs launch start-ups on a gut
instinct, without gauging the market. Only after
investing do they realise the gravity of the mistake.
Then, if the venture limps on, there are plenty more
First you should learn about the worst and how to
correct them. Here, a cohort of experts sheds some
light on six critical small-business blunders and how
to fix them:
1. BLIND HIRING
Misfire: Assuming they are smart enough to
delegate in the first place, many small-business
owners have trouble hiring the right person for the
Learning from others'
mistakes can help you
on your way to success,
reports DAVID WILSON.
right role, start-up strategist Jack Garson says.
Overconfident about their interviewing skills, they are
disappointed by the result.
Fix: First, establish what traits beyond
experience, training and enthusiasm are needed.
Also, grasp how the applicant will perform in
the position - you can use the Predictive Index
(predictiveresults.com), which Garson says raises
the successful hiring ratio from 33 per cent to more
than 90 per cent, "a critical improvement for any
company - small or large".
2. FUZZY LOGIC
Misfire: A fuzzy partnership can be disastrous,
according to legal analyst Kim Wright
(cuttingedgelaw.com). Wright has witnessed many
entrepreneurs choose partners circumstantially
then fail to hammer out an agreement. Both sides
invest heavily. Then, pushed by pressure, they focus
purely on work. When an issue emerges, stress and
resentment kick in: "Both names are on the website
and they can't sit in a room together," Wright says.
Fix: Knuckle down - nut out a set of agreements
that factors in how conflicts will be resolved.
3. SLACK ATTACK
Misfire: The worst mistake is to get comfortable
and coast along on cruise control, failing to
challenge or continuously analyse each department,
business coach Chris Chapman says.
Fix: Utilise web-based tools, for instance
social networking platforms like LinkedIn. Free
or cheap, they are easy to use with strong return
Misfire: "By far, the biggest small-business mistake
I see is that too frequently owners focus on what
they do, what they want to do, why they're so
great at what they do," according to a business
consultant, Barry Maher (barrymaher.com).
Fix: "The way to fix this is every bit as obvious
as the problem," Maher says. Businesses must
become "customer-centric", focusing on the
customer. "It's not about you. It's about them."
5. MARKETING PHOBIA
Misfire: Marketing is the Achilles heel of the
majority of small businesses, according to an
expert in launching businesses, Karin Abarbanel
Based on her interviews with entrepreneurs
across a range of businesses, Abarbanel
concludes that the worst mistake small-business
owners make is undervaluing marketing.
"They take a 'build it and they will come' attitude
that can seriously hamper their chances of
success," she points out.
Fix: The thrust is to redefine marketing. Think of it
as sharing your passion rather than selling.
6. FEAST OR FAMINE
Misfire: Failure to "manage the pipeline" is
the cardinal sin for small business, according
to a project management expert, Martin
VanDerSchouw, also a member of the US
President's Business Advisory Council.
"Many small-business leaders get so wrapped
up in trying to keep the business afloat today, they
fail to think about tomorrow," he says. "In a tight
economy, these pressures get even greater."
Fix: Look ahead. Spend an hour a day managing
the business three to six months down the track.
--- The Age
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