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Common mistakes made by small firms – and how best to avoid them

5 Mins

Business plan

Writing a business plan may appear a boring and time consuming exercise, but without one how do you know what you want your business to achieve and in what given timeframe? Aside from measuring success, business plans are also vital for attracting investment and managing cash flow.

Believe it or not your firm is far more likely to fail if you don’t take the time to develop a coherent business plan. I guarantee that knowing what you want to achieve in one year, three years and five years will feed your ambition and put you on track to success. 

Don’t do it alone

Starting and growing a business is both a daunting and challenging task, and as much as it will pain you to accept it you won’t be able to do everything on your own. One of the best decisions you can make from an early stage is to work with a business mentor: someone who has greater experience than you, and is able to guide through decision making and provide you with invaluable advice. 

I have said this time and time again, but the real prize in winning The Apprentice is securing Lord Sugar as a business partner – his advice is ten times worth that initial investment, and Climb Online would not be this successful without his input. 

So many businessmen and entrepreneurs have and rely on their business mentor, and is something every business start-up can benefit from. 

Read more articles written by Mark Wright:

Hire the right team

Growing a small firm into a seven-figure turnover business in just one year has been an extremely challenging task. One thing’s for sure, I definitely would not have been able to do this without my amazing team. 

Sourcing and selecting skilled professionals is one thing, but keeping hold of them is another. Take time with your recruitment processes and think carefully about every employment decision. Just because you shared common interests with an interviewee does not mean they are the right person for the job. Once appointed, the hard work doesn’t just stop there – think about how you can keep your team interested and engaged, and ensure you remain grateful for their daily efforts and ongoing support. 

As Richard Branson famously said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Dream big but be patient

“If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough”. 

In business it is so important to be ambitious and have a clear goal or number of goals that you are working towards on a daily basis. Aside from being an excellent measure of success, having overarching goals and objectives will act as your motivation and drive both you and your business forwards. In saying this, it is equally as important to remain patient – success rarely comes overnight and for start-up businesses there can be more bad days that outweigh the good, particularly within the initial stages. 

Starting and managing a business is a real measurement of character, but working hard and remaining motivated is one sure way of succeeding. 

It costs to win new customers

When you first start a business, we all know that every penny counts. Unfortunately so many start-ups look at service costs for the short term and don’t think about the return. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing. You could have the best service or product in the world, but without marketing how will anyone know it exists? 

An innovative and coherent marketing strategy that combines digital and conventional channels may cost in the short term but, if done correctly, will provide you with a positive return on investment and new customers likely to last for the long term. 

Also, when you talk about business development, many individuals immediately think of selling or sales – and although the two are closely aligned, Wright explains that they are completely different in strategy and approach.

Mark Wright is director of Climb Online.

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