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An Interview with Intuit: Avoiding Common Business Pitfalls

Below is an interview with Alan Melton and Brandi-Ann Uyemura, a blogger with Intuit discussing common business pitfalls:

common business pitfalls

How to Avoid Common Business Pitfalls

Brandi: As a business coach, what common business pitfalls do you see small business owners doing to unintentionally sabotage their business? Please discuss with real stories, if possible.

Alan: Many small business owners are too “in the moment” to make good decisions. In this scenario, the entrepreneur tends to make the business revolve around them. The business is dependent upon the owner to solve every problem. They allow crises to drive their business actions and make decisions that place them in the “hero” role. There is satisfaction with being the hero, but while focusing time and energy on a crisis other important areas will be neglected. During a crisis business owners may lose sight of customers, employees, competition, finances, family, and their health, etc.

Example of Business Owner in the “Hero” Role

Recently I had a prospect who is a business owner of a rapidly growing telecommunications service. His behavior was your classic business pitfall. He canceled several appointments with me because of his latest crisis: an employee theft, last-minute meetings, sick employees, the bank called his note, lost employees, etc. There was a new crisis nearly every day. When I observed him at work he was constantly being interrupted by people who needed his input. Soon his final crisis came: over $100,000 in unpaid bills.

common business pitfalls

Brandi: Who is at most risk?

Alan: Business owners of growing companies who refuse to delegate and empower employees will eventually fail. They fail because it is impossible to keep an eye on everything that happens in a growing business. If the common business maladies of poor cash flow, loss of customers, poor employee performance, or competition don’t cause the business to fail, failure will ultimately come through owner burnout.

Brandi: What can entrepreneurs do to not make these same mistakes and if they already have, what can they do about it?

Alan: Successful business owners learn to prevent crises. They develop strategic skills(focus on the future), rather than only focusing on tactical issues(focus on today). They learn to act more like a CEO. Below are some ways to be more strategic:

How to be a More Strategic Business Owner

Develop a team of employees with different skills than you.

Make sure someone on your team is focused on growing your sales, someone is focused on customer service, and someone is focused on your financial performance.

Do what you love to do and delegate the rest.

If you are doing what you love as a business owner you will never quit, and persistence leads to success. Train your employees, or get training for them. Give your employees the authority to make decisions. Put checks and balances in place to ensure that you stay in touch with each important area in your business. For example with paying expenses, you can make sure that two signatures are required on every check that is written.

Have a written plan, which includes your business vision, values mission.

Meet with your team to set goals and determine actions that will help propel the business toward your vision.

as a Business owner, Meet regularly with your team.

Share your plan with your employees and keep them focused on your vision. Discuss your plan and decide how to eliminate problems and obstacles.

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Alan Melton is the founder of Small Business Coach Associates. He and his team work with an amazing group of entrepreneurs, and small business owners who are getting on the fast track to achieving their personal goals. Alan has started twelve businesses and acquired six more. Recognized by two U.S. presidents, Alan is a nationally known speaker, author, and award-winning business leader.

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