In his book “Tipping the Odds for the Entrepreneur: Big Ideas on Success for the Small Business Owner” author Kevin C. Maki talks about some of the most common mistakes that lead to business failure.
The following is an extract from his book “Tipping the Odds for the Entrepreneur: Big Ideas on Success for the Small Business Owner.”
Mistake #1: Lack of Direction
Many entrepreneurs launch a business without specific goals and metrics for assessing their progress toward those goals. I often repeat the phrases:
- What gets measured gets done; and
- You can only manage what you measure.
A business plan is simply a method for formalizing your goals, timelines for achieving them, and strategies for accomplishing each of the steps required to reach these goals. If you are vague about what you want to accomplish and in what timeline, it is difficult to get all of the necessary parties aligned to move the business in that direction. Fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy outcomes. Specific, measurable goals with timelines for major and minor milestones will allow you gauge your progress and make course corrections when necessary.
An element of your direction should be your competitive advantage relative to your competition. Why should customers or clients choose you instead of them? The factors on which sales decisions are made are time, price, product and service quality, convenience and risk. Your business must have an advantage in one or more of these in order to convince a customer to choose you. You should be explicit about what you want your advantage to be and how you plan to accomplish this. You then need to communicate this clearly to your employees and customers. That is the only way that your customers and employees will know what you are promising to deliver and the only way your employees will know what is expected of them in order to deliver on those promises.
A hotel chain used to run ads with the motto “No surprises.” In other words, guests could expect a clean comfortable room and friendly, helpful staff. We often tell our customers that we hope that when they work with us they will experience “No surprises…except good ones.” Our goal is to under-promise and over-deliver, never the reverse.
About the Author
Kevin C. Maki, PhD is the founder of Tipping the OddsSM, as well as President and Chief Science Officer of Provident Clinical Research & Consulting, Inc., a company specializing in the design and conduct of clinical research on food and pharmaceutical products. He is the author or co-author of five books and hundreds of published articles on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to preventive medicine.
Kevin’s book Tipping the Odds for the Entrepreneur: Big Ideas on Success for the Small Business Owner is available for purchase on Amazon and leading book stores.