During the last mercurial cycle, I asked several super-successful types what killed businesses. If we can somehow work on eradicating a few simple mistakes, the next few years will rock.
1. Stagnation. Evolve or die. Just sitting there will sure help your butt grow, but not much else. Change with the times only if you want to stay ahead of your competition. Imagine you're okay, and you are surely asleep.
2. Lack of planning. Find your niche, craft a plan, and then stick with it each day. It's easy for businesses to not stay focused on what they do best. If your plan isn't working, tweak the mother quickly.
3. Turning off loyal customers. Too many businesses focus on bringing in new and ignore their old. Since 20 percent of customers are responsible for 80 percent of business, it's a lot easier to keep loyal customers happy than to find new ones. I call that "horizontal growth." If your clients think you treat them amazingly, they'll sell you to others better than you ever can. For sure.
4. Thinking you know it all. If you're not staying informed about the world, you'll be left behind. That means forcing yourself to go out and find out about topics you "could care less about." The stuff you love--don't chase it, it'll come in through your pores.
5. Not keeping up with your customers' interests. Follow trends in the media, pay attention to what businesses down the street are doing, and be a spotter of trends so that you don't become obsolete--or worse, stale. Ask customers what's working, what's not, and why. Do it without cynicism or thin-skinned defensiveness!
6. Staying quiet. Get the word out about who you are and what you offer--and don't worry about giving away the "company secrets." People should know what you're doing. Don't be self-important. I always hear "Someone will steal this." So what? You were first. Also, leverage aggressive marketing techniques, our old pal the Internet, and even freaking 411.com. Do stunts--but only if they match the mission of what you are proffering. And yeah, PR. There are actual influential big mouths who can make your product or service a big deal. That isn't a myth, Virginia.
7. Having a tepid message. Think about how you want customers to feel and what you want them to do. Then craft memorable messages that are bent on surprising them and that make them go "woo, woo!"
8. Being inconsistent. If you act like an ass in public, it's probably best to give the paying customers what they seem to want. If you're a sweetheart, show that side of you all the time. Businesses are about people--but only the ones who pay to see the fake you. Don't try to be someone new. It's fake.
9. Neglecting the art of "What The Fuck!" Sometimes you have to throw away old wisdom. Go with your gut. My friend tells me The Dalai Lama said that at Radio City last month!
10. Worrying about what people think. That won't get you anywhere. No one is paying attention to things like you are absolutely positive they are as you fall asleep at night. But if folks are mocking you--good. The biggest successes are those who enjoy being laughed at all the time. I know I do.
Aristotle said "There is nothing common about common sense." I leave you with that.