5 Things Business Owners Do That Waste Time and Hurt Sales

Marketing Sales StrategiesBy Jennifer Calero

Starting and growing a business is a tough job. Some business owners succeed while others don’t because they waste time and hurt sales. In my experience, I’ve never met a business owner that purposefully wastes time or hurts sales; instead it happens as a result of being passionate about what they are doing and wanting to do everything they can to be successful. As you work to grow your business, check up on yourself from time to time to make sure you are not setting up any of these road blocks that can waste time and hurt sales.

Road block #1 – Not devoting time to marketing

Marketing is a task that is easily pushed to the back burner especially when a business is growing organically. For a small business owner who is trying to manage all aspects of a business, creating a marketing plan and implementing it can be overwhelming. Many owners can’t get out from under the day to day long enough to think strategically into the future but in order to continue growing you need to be putting some sort of efforts in to marketing and advertising your business. There will come a time when business will slow down and you’ll be thankful you took the time to keep your name out in front of your target audience. 

Tips on preventing this from happening in your business: 

Schedule time each week to devote to marketing. Even if it is just an hour here and there, devoting time to marketing is just as important as balancing your checkbook or paying your bills. If you can’t commit to that, hire someone. If you can’t carve out the time to manage your website, remain active on social media, create a brochure or any of the other marketing tasks that your business could benefit from then find a professional to do it for you. There are plenty of freelancers that can help you manage your marketing without a tremendous expense. Even if you hire someone, you still need to schedule time to be a part of the work that is being done so setting aside time each week to devote to marketing is critical.

Road block #2 – Neglecting face time

Again, I know it’s tough for owners to get a way but networking is such an important part of growing a business. I have met so many people through networking events that I have stayed in contact with and have later brought me business. Networking is typically something that you don’t see the benefit of right away so it’s easy to feel like it’s a waste of time when your plate is full of so many other things. I can assure you though, don’t neglect your face time, keeping up relationships with colleagues, other business owners, clients and potential clients will generate sales one day.

Tips on preventing this from happening in your business:

Again, schedule time each month to get to one networking event or opportunity. Even if it’s just grabbing a coffee with another business owner one morning, it’s better than nothing!

Road block #3 – Deviating from the plan (or not)

Most businesses have a strategic plan or a marketing plan that is laid out to determine the course of action a business will take to increase sales and grow. If you take the time to create a plan, follow it, you created that plan for a reason. Jumping from item to item and doing things that don’t add value are time wasters!

Now, if you are sticking to your plan and find it’s not working, then by all means, deviate. Sticking to a plan that isn’t working won’t help either but give your plan a chance before you switch gears.

Tips on preventing this from happening in your business: 

Commit to implementing your plan without deviating for a specific period of time. As you are implementing, document what is working and what is not.  Understand that change takes time and most businesses won’t see results from their efforts over night. Jumping around and trying too many things can actually hurt your sales and wastes time. Stay consistent throughout the period of time you designate and re-evaluate your future strategy at the end.

Road block #4 – Trying to be something you are not

If you’re not a high end, don’t say you are so you can charge more. Throughout my career, I worked with two different companies that wanted to position themselves as a high-end provider in their industry. They both had the pricing to match that vision but the products and services they were providing were by no means high-end or different from anything else in the market for that matter. The result was their messages were completely different than what the consumer was actually getting.

For one company that was service based, the result was their customers started price shopping when they weren’t impressed by the quality of the service they received. When they realized they could get the same thing cheaper somewhere else, they jumped ship and the business took a big hit financially. The second company is product based and while it is too early to tell what the impact will be, I predict they will have disappointed customers that don’t turn into repeat business.

Another common problem that falls into this category is when businesses try to be everything to everyone to compete. If you are a pizzeria and a Mexican restaurant opens down the street, don’t add tacos to your menu to compete. You’re not going to be good at making tacos and your pizzas may suffer. Instead, make the best pizza you can and compete by making everyone want to eat your pizza instead of tacos!

Tips on preventing this from happening in your business: 

Decide what you are going to be and stick to it. Write down a clear vision statement for what you want your company to be and live it for a while. If your business starts to grow in another direction, that is fine, re-evaluate it, but just be conscious of the process and make changes to support your new vision that will benefit the business, not confuse your customer.

Road Block #5 – Running before walking

I had a client that was so excited about their services that they couldn’t wait to branch out and start spreading the word. They were anxious to start franchising their business but the problem was they weren’t prepared. They didn’t have a proven system in place to actually sell should someone want to buy they just had a really great idea that people were responding to. We laid out a plan to implement a foundation for growth but mid-way through (this goes back to Road Block #3 as well) they started telling me about all the work they were doing to sell the franchise. This was a total waste of time. They had nothing to sell and all they were doing was de-valuing what they would have to offer in the future.

Tips on preventing this from happening in your business: 

Sometimes you have to take a step back and put the proper system in place before you can grow.  Going back to Road Block #3, create a plan for growth and stick to it.  Have a clear plan as to where you are going and how you are going to get there.  It may take longer than you’d like but doing the leg work upfront will pay off in the end and will ultimately increase sales when you have a great end product to offer!

Jennifer Calero is a freelance Marketing Professional with over 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. As an experienced marketing manager Jennifer knows how to create a strategy and implement it while working within a reasonable budget to reach a target audience. Jennifer lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband and two children. To connect with Jennifer find her on Twitter @jenncalero or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/jcalero/ or on the web at jcalero.com.

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