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Here are some Top 4 Mistakes To Be Avoided While Growing Your Business……
There are a lot of failures on the path to success and I have certainly made my share of mistakes along the way. Of course, if you aren’t making any mistakes then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. I like to think of my failures as stepping stones to future success. However, looking at my mistakes and honestly admitting them is difficult. Of course, I believe that in doing so I will learn from them and hopefully avoid repeating them so I can get on down the road.
It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or for someone else. Learning to avoid crucial mistakes is important. Admittedly, there is no one way to achieve greatness and what works in one situation may not work in another. It often takes a lot of trial and error to create your personal recipe for success. However, I believe that we can glean ideas that will help us by listening to the mistakes of others. This is why I’ve decided to share my mistakes with you today. It is in hope that I can help you. I want you to benefit as I have from the mistakes that I’ve made.
Never make enemies.
I once made the mistake of getting crossways with the boss’ wife. You are probably saying, “Duh” right about now. It sounds like I was really stupid and it was pretty dumb, but please believe there is more to the story than it seems on the surface. Let me explain. I provided outsourced technology services to a company and served as their contract IT Director. The CEO sent me to tell a recently acquired business unit to move onto the corporate e-mail system. The wife of the president of this unit ran their IT department. She had more experience than me and, as I found out later, she was very politically shrewd. She didn’t want to convert over to the corporate system. She listened politely and asked a lot of questions. However, near the end of the meeting, she stated that she saw no compelling reason for the change. I wasn’t really prepared to convince her otherwise because in my youth and ignorance I believed that my marching orders from the CEO included the power to just tell her to do what he wanted. I explained that now they were a part of something bigger and that this is what the CEO wanted so they needed to just go along. This didn’t sit well with her. It made me look like I thought I could bully her. It was a big mistake. In just a few months, her husband was promoted to CEO of the entire enterprise. Needless to say, I was on my way out. Despite the fact that I had a good relationship with the former CEO who was now the Chairman, her influence and her husband’s new position were too much for me to survive.
I learned the hard way that it is always better to be patient and work peacefully to convince people that your way is the best way rather than trying to exert your actual or perceived position power to get things done. It is a small world. When we upset someone or threaten their domain, we risk having it come back to bite us later. I also find that by working with people, especially those that disagree with me, the joint solution usually turns out better than what I had in mind to begin with.
Shortcuts to success do not work.
I agreed to sell my biggest client 51% of my business because I thought they could catapult me to success. There were a number of mistakes with this decision. First, I thought this was going to be a quicker way to achieve what I wanted. I thought the capital and influence of this client would be the silver bullet that would guarantee me tons of more business. However, this was simply a transaction that occurred on paper. It did not change who I was or my readiness for success. After making this deal, I sort of kicked back and waited for things to start happening which was my next mistake. In reality, I was now accountable to someone else. I had given up ultimate authority over my business. I had diluted my ownership. I should have realized that I needed to work harder than ever to meet the expectations of a new business partner. I lacked the maturity to see that no one was going to hand me anything. I was going to have to earn everything I got. This mistake ultimately led to what I call a business divorce and a loss of my biggest client. In the end, I gained a lot of experience, but I suffered a major business setback. It was a painful lesson. It didn’t kill my company, but it certainly wounded it.
There are no shortcuts to success. I am convinced that slow and steady wins the race. In addition, I would be very hesitant to ever give up any equity in my business in the future. I would not give up control or give away a percentage of my profits. I want to be sure that I get to make the decisions and reap the results.
I believed that I could build it and they would come.
I hired too many people before my business was ready. In my zeal to build my service company, I thought I needed people ready to service clients that didn’t actually exist. I got the cart in front of the horse. I was overconfident in my ability to sell. As a result, I had people without anything to do. I forgot that it is better to stay lean and mean. I couldn’t generate enough business fast enough. It was a slippery slope. Employees are expensive. It isn’t just their salaries, but also their benefits and extra office space that costs money. It didn’t take long to determine that I couldn’t sustain the people that I hired. As a result, I had to let some of them go. It was very difficult to look into the eyes of someone that just a few months ago I had talked into quitting their old job to come to work for me. I had to explain that I was firing them because I didn’t have the business to justify their position. I had failed them. It was hard to admit. Sometimes our mistakes have serious consequences in the lives of others. I will never forget this.
I will be conservative in the future. I will always be certain that I have plenty of business to justify the people that I hire. I am acutely aware of the responsibility an employer has to their people. They have families and obligations to meet as well. I never want to be in this position again.
Debt is not a solution to business problems.
I used a credit card and some other types of business loans to float the company the money it needed when cash was short. This built debt which only compounded my problems. I started out running my company purely on cash, but somewhere along the way I started thinking that debt was okay. I used the loans to falsely support the business when what I really needed to do was generate more revenue and reduce expenses. I would not do it again. It is amazing how much debt you can rack up in a short amount of time!
I know that there are those of you out there that will disagree, but I do not believe that debt is a tool to grow or run a business. I believe it is an unnecessary risk. It is possible to run a successful business using cash alone. This is the safest and most profitable way to be in business. I should have addressed the root causes of my cash flow problem rather than incurring debt.
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These were four big mistakes that I made when I was in business for myself that created speed bumps in my path to success. I have learned from these mistakes and I have moved on. Fortunately, I also make some good decisions once in awhile. In each of these situations, I recognized my mistakes and took steps to control the damage. Of course, if I could have avoided them altogether then I would have gotten a lot further along much faster. I learned these lessons the hard way. I sincerely hope that by sharing my mistakes in an open and honest fashion it will help you to make better decisions and maybe even avoid similar mistakes altogether.
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