Missteps That Can Haunt Small Businesses

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Given how much effort goes into opening the average small business, it’s only natural that fledgling business owners would strive for maximum success. However, if this is your first time owning or managing a business, you’re all but guaranteed to hit the occasional stumbling block. Unfortunately, while certain missteps can be corrected and learned from, others can haunt your business for the foreseeable future – and possibly even facilitate its closure. First-time business owners looking to avoid damaging mistakes should be mindful of the following blunders.

Not Obtaining the Proper Business Licenses

Operating a small business without first obtaining the required licenses can have a host of serious consequences. For starters, you may be ordered to shut down your business until such time as the proper licenses are in place. In more extreme cases, you may find yourself facing a wide range of legal ramifications.

So, before opening your first business, make sure you know exactly what kinds of licenses you’ll need and set out to obtain them. For example, if you intend to open a restaurant, you’re likely to need an assortment of food, beverage and liquor licenses. Although getting the necessary business licenses may strike you as cumbersome, doing so stands to save you a lot of headaches in the future. The licensing process can be particularly hassle-free in municipalities that utilize cutting-edge government software systems.

Failing to Research Potential Locations

The location of your business can have a tremendous impact on how much success it enjoys. In fact, many long-time business owners would argue that location is the most important factor to consider when seeking out potential retail or office spaces. So, before deciding on a suitable base of operations for your business, take some time to engage in location research.

As the name implies, location research involves doing a deep dive into specific areas. When exploring prospective spaces, consider the population size, growth rates and local economy of the surrounding area. You’ll also need to think about how demand for a business of this type exists within the area. For example, are there other businesses that serve the same need(s)? If so, how many, and what are some of the defining characteristics of the most successful ones? All of this research can help you determine whether or not an area is worth investing in, ensuring that you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Regarding Customer Service as an Afterthought

In the age of instant feedback, customer service has become more important than ever. So, if your business’s attentiveness to customer needs leaves a lot to be desired, you’d do well to correct any mistakes sooner rather than later. If patrons are unhappy with the service you provide, many of them won’t hesitate to voice their dissatisfaction all over the web. In fact, a single scathing review from someone with a large enough social media following can lead to a noticeable downtick in consumer interest.

To help minimize your chances of getting on customers’ bad sides, make a point of being responsive and sympathetic to the needs of your patrons. Among other things, this entails answering customer queries in a timely and courteous manner and never making patrons feel ignored or unimportant. Furthermore, make sure that everyone in your employ is well-versed in courtesy and professionalism. Just remember – a single discourteous employee can cause tremendous harm to the customer service efforts of an entire business. So, if even one member of your team needs a refresher on good customer service, see that they get it.

A willingness to take responsibility for mistakes is another tenet of solid customer service. In many cases, disgruntled patrons are angrier at a business’s approach to problems than the problems themselves. As you’ll find, consumers can be surprisingly forgiving when businesses own up to mistakes and do everything in their power to make amends for them.

Given all the time, effort and capital that goes into launching a small business, it’s only natural that business owners would do everything in their power to ensure the success of their respective establishments. Unfortunately, without even meaning to, many proprietors make a variety of mistakes that hinder their businesses’ ability to succeed and lead to premature closure. As such, new small business owners looking to achieve lasting success should take care to avoid the missteps outlined above.

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