We all make mistakes in business; but it’s the business mistakes that require us to focus on ourselves, that are harder to admit.
When it comes to soloism there are definitely common business mistakes that we freely admit to. For example, not thinking about marketing, not setting goals, not understanding the market place or your numbers, and having no plan.
And that there is quite a list! However, there are also other business mistakes that many of us make when we first start out, that can be much harder to share.
Here are four business mistakes I’ve made, that I hope you can learn from too.
1. Undervaluing myself
I’d been an employee for 30 years. While I am strong-willed and forthright, I was used to doing as I was told; when I could have lunch, holidays and what time to arrive and leave work. When I went into business for myself, it was after experiencing the stress of redundancy, so my self-esteem had taken a battering.
With no guidance and not knowing who to ask for help, I leapt into small business life and started guessing. I had no idea how to value my skill set; I even started off at the hourly rate my employer had paid me. This was a big mistake; I had to take more clients than I could service to earn enough to live on. This led to burnout, stress, illness and letting people down.
Now, I value myself more. I am a highly skilled and experienced person. I have 30 years doing ‘my thang’ and I no longer give away my time for free.
I work with people who value my skills and are happy to invest in working with me. I also put my prices up – not exorbitantly – but enough to show my clientele that I mean business.
2. Not looking after myself
By not valuing myself, I also pushed myself too hard. I was eager and desperate all at the same time. I took on too many clients, worked long hours, didn’t eat properly or move enough. And then, a couple of years ago I collapsed in a heap; I was spent, sick and ready to pack it in and go back to a job.
I sometimes still push too hard; but now I schedule regular breaks, like mini holidays with my husband and kids. I also lock my office on the weekend so if I must go in there, I can’t just walk in.
3. Being too available
Like most people I want to be liked; I want to give good service and grow my business, so in the beginning, I answered emails at all hours. This set up an expectation I was on call and could do anything at a drop of a hat, because I was always responsive.
Then when I didn’t answer straight away, I would get hounded with demands as to why I wasn’t replying. As I grew, I realised boundaries were necessary.
When I on-board a new client, I set expectations early. I let the client know my availability and unless the message is urgent, that I will respond within 24-48 hours.
I also define from the get-go my preferred method for communication and theirs, so messages are not missed. With so many ways to contact each other these days, it is easy to get swamped.
4. Saying yes too quickly
This goes back to wanting to be liked; I used to say ‘yes’ to all prospective jobs, networking invites and requests for freebies. Oh boy, did I make a mess for myself!
Overwhelmed and inundated, I worked with people my gut screamed not to. I went to events that had no real value to me and I had to fit in work that did not pay around the jobs that did.
Now, if I feel a client is not the right fit, I decline and limit networking to events aligned with my strategic goals.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made while building your business?