3 Common Small Business Mistakes and How to Fix Them

by Diana Lam, 4 minutes read
HOME blog 3 common small business mistakes and how to fix them

On the road to success, every business will encounter its fair share of setbacks and mistakes. Some can have a direct effect on your team’s productivity and others can have long-term impacts.

But what are some of the most common mistakes business owners talk about encountering at some stage? Read on to pinpoint three small business mistakes and how you can fix them.

1. Hesitant about tech

Many businesses are hesitant about new technology for a variety of reasons. They might not want to take any risks, they may not be ready for change, or they’re unsure how the return on investment will play out. 

All those reasons are valid – investing in technology can initially seem costly and daunting. But what many businesses may not realize is it can end up saving your business a lot of time and money – sometimes even immediate savings.

Take Weekends Only as an example. After searching for the right system to help them easily schedule staff, they chose one that helped them save $48k worth of time every year. They even saw an immediate $10k return on investment. 

It used to take several of their managers four hours per week to manually create staff schedules then log into their HR system to download contact lists if they needed to reach staff to make any edits. Now, those could be completed within an hour. That time savings equated to 336 hours per year. With the saved time, their team can focus on more important tasks that truly move the needle for their business. 

If you’re doubtful about software adoption or experienced unsuccessful adoptions in the past, these are five things that will set your team up for success and make new technology easier to implement. It also never hurts to test the product through a demo or trial – this way, you can experience the product firsthand, and ask questions or address concerns without making any long-term commitments.

2. Controlling labor costs

Wages are one of the most significant costs for any business, and these costs have only gone up in recent times. 

When it comes to being cost-efficient though, many businesses struggle with overspending on labor. During quieter hours, they might have too much staff on hand. Then, they end up spending more than they need to on scheduled staff.

Vice versa, during busier hours, they might have too little staff on hand. And this can compromise customer service, positive customer experiences, and sales targets.

There’s an effective solution to this common error. Businesses can invest in smart demand forecasting software to keep labor costs under budget. They’re useful for predicting ideal staffing at any given time based on  inputs like sales per hour, foot traffic, and even weather. 

This way, business managers can adjust scheduling higher or lower based on demand, employee skill sets, and scheduling preferences. Not only does this solution ensure staffing always matches customer demand, but businesses are making every dollar count. 

Hear from Lance Stillwaugh, owner of Thorton and Hidden Lakes Ace Hardware, who’s been able to keep costs under budget across two of his storefronts and reduce payroll costs by 10% YoY since adopting software with smart demand planning.  

“Two things that eat up cash are payroll and inventory. By monitoring your payroll as a percentage of sales by day, by week, and tracking it monthly, by the end of the year [with a smart software], you have managed your labor expense and you know where you’re going to end up and it’s not a surprise.”

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3. Engaging enough with staff

The heart of every business is its team – so it’s important that businesses stay engaged with every employee. Many times, this gets neglected as managers and owners have their hands tied with other high priorities. And other times, this is ignored based on the assumption that everything is okay. 

Poor team engagement can make your staff feel less connected with management, colleagues, work, and even your customers. Further, it can also affect staff retention – something every business wants to steer clear in light of staffing shortages. 

Luckily, there are a few ways you can tackle this common mistake. Consider conducting regular check-ins or end-of-shift surveys with your staff. Encourage open discussions beyond day-to-day tasks. Ask your team about their career interests, seek ways of improvement, or talk about upskilling opportunities.

Also in your conversations, ensure they’re happy and not burned out at work. Topics you can go over: are they content with their schedules? Do they need a better work-life balance? Are there ways you can help like allowing them to swap shifts more easily? Next, review the results and see which areas you can improve. Then, make changes as needed to create better staff experiences. 

You can also use a collaboration system so your whole team can communicate and work together in one central platform. This can also ensure your team stays as connected as possible by never missing important announcements or emerging updates.

Learn, grow, and thrive 

In business, every manager and owner makes mistakes. But it’s all about seeing the glass half full as opposed to half empty. Continue to learn and improve – avoid long-term impacts by understanding past errors, evaluating what went wrong, and determining the best ways to fix them. 

Be open to technology and solutions that can help you save time and money. Control your labor costs by aligning staff schedules with the demand. Stay engaged with your staff to improve retention and create a positive working environment.

Want more insights to grow your business? Uncover employee trends that can make or break your business. And learn effective strategies to grow your customer base, team, and brand.