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The three biggest mistakes small business owners make

This article is sponsored by Vero Insurance

Sure, everyone makes mistakes. We’ve uncovered a few traps for new players so your business doesn’t have to fall into them.

Small and medium enterprise owners are usually very busy people, often doing everything themselves, always on the run. As with everything else in life, mistakes will be made and there will be plenty of lessons to learn along the way.

Here are three common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Poor customer service

A small business cannot afford to lose one good customer. Yet how many times have you walked into a shop where the staff are having private conversations and don’t even pause to greet you?

The founder and CEO of the small Business Association of Australia, Anne Nalder, says its vital for business owners to lead by example and, in turn, train their staff about the importance of customer service. This training should also ensure staff are totally familiar with the product or service they’re selling.

Indeed, good customer service starts with understanding who your customers are and what they want, then giving that to them. It’s crucial to listen to your customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Follow up on all complaints and consider what you can learn from these.

Remember that one sure way a small business can differentiate itself from its larger competitors is through excellent customer service.

  1. Weak website

Today, more than ever, a website is mandatory for a business as this is where customers and potential customers look. Yet the websites of many  small businesses are amateurish and of poor quality.

Nalder says this is because many business owners don’t realise that investing in their website is a valuable investment in their business. “They skimp on costs and it shows,” she says. “Also, many websites are not mobile friendly which is a requirement of Google. A bad-looking website will lose customers.”

It’s important to ensure your website talks to your target customer and reflects your brand. The website should also be simple and easy to navigate. Most importantly, if you have a checkout process, it should not be confusing or complicated, or you will risk losing your customer at the crucial moment.

  1. Messy cash flow

This can be a major problem for all businesses, but especially for SMEs. Fortunately, most cash flow problems can be prevented.

To avoid problems, Nalder advises leasing rather than buying. “Do not have huge inventories,” she adds. “If you must lease premises to store your inventory, it ties up valuable cash. Plus, if you do not sell your inventory fast, depending on what it is, it can go out of date.”

Nalder also suggests avoiding high overhead expenses, especially any that are not directly tied to the sale of goods or services. “The solution is to take a hard look at what you can cut back on without compromising on the quality of your business,” she says.

It’s also vital to send out invoices on time and as soon as the work is completed. Make it as easy as possible for customers to pay you and consider offering them an incentive to pay quicker.