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The Sun

You don’t need a business guru to avoid these costly mistakes


Published:   |   Updated: February 7, 2014 at 09:56 AM

It would be great if we could all afford to hire a business guru to mentor us in the art of running a company. Mistakes can be costly, so avoiding them in the first place could save us tons of money.

But most of us don’t have that luxury. So I’ve done a little research and found what real business gurus consider the biggest mistakes most of us make with our companies.

Mistake No. 1 is being afraid to take the leap. Too often we dip our toes in the water and operate our business as a side venture, but at some point we’ll have to decide to jump in with both feet. Sometimes we have to have faith and go for it. We can’t wait until fear makes us pull the trigger.

The second biggest mistake is hiring the wrong people. Hiring your second cousin might make your uncle happy but is he the best person for the job? We need to make sure we have a clearly defined job description and hire someone who has the skill set and the right personality to carry out those tasks.

If you’re like me, you make this next mistake a lot – not wanting to give up control.

Some of us believe so passionately in what we’re doing that it’s hard for us to give up hands-on control, but there comes a point when we have to let people who are better than we are at certain things do those things.

The Great Recession taught many of us that just because we achieve a certain level of success that doesn’t translate into “we’ve reached a point of comfort.” Now we know there is no such thing as safe. Don’t make the mistake of becoming complacent. You have to stay on your toes, watch your competition and keep looking for new products and services.

Do you know what your goals are? If you don’t, how do you know if you’re successful?

Goals are how businesses achieve objectives. First we must develop our goals, write them down and figure out who is accountable for reaching them. Without taking these steps, it’s difficult to achieve our objectives. Each goal should have an identified employee who is responsible for achieving it within a defined timeline. Eventually, this exercise will grow into your strategic long-range plan, otherwise known as your business plan.

Another big mistake is to fly by the seat of your pants financially. It’s not uncommon for businesses to operate without a budget. But we all need one so we can safely allocate funds for strategies that promote our businesses and to purchase necessary equipment. We also need to know if we can hire additional staff.

And finally, it’s a mistake not to hold employees accountable. When we fail to hold our people accountable for doing their jobs and reaching their goals, we’re guilty of mismanaging resources. Employees who are paid wages or a salary without fulfilling job responsibilities are providing no value to the organization, and we’re just wasting our money.

Maybe we all can’t hire a business guru to guide us along, but we can certainly avoid these costly mistakes. Now go out there and be profitable.

Dana Dittmar is executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at (813) 634-5111.

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