5 Mistakes New Businesses Make
What can we learn from other people’s mistakes?
Well... it kind of depends on what kind of person you are.
If you're my teenage self then you learn nothing from other people's mistakes and only learn by sticking your little fingers directly into the fire yourself. And honestly, even if you aren't like that, we're still all bound to make some mistakes regardless of whether we've been told their mistakes before or not.
But, we're breaking down 5 of the most common gaffes new businesses make, particularly when it comes to branding and communications, anyways because, even if we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of those who came before us, knowing they're missteps beforehand is still helpful.
In part, because having this knowledge better equips us to pinpoint where we're going wrong and, in part, because it usually expedites how long it takes to realize something is going wrong. There's seriously nothing worse than buying all of your branding collateral, setting up a website, and THEN realizing it's not working.
So here are the five most common mistakes we've seen (and been a party too here and there).
NOT KNOWING YOUR BRAND OR HAVING A STRATEGY
Pretty pictures and curated colour schemes alone do not make a brand. Brands have a distinct personality, something people can connect with, and if you haven't thought about it and put a strategy in place to get your target audiences' attention, then it can be easy to get lost in the fray.
We wrote a blog post on how to define your brand personality, which you can read here, but basically, you want to figure out who your audience is, what they engage with, and then build your brand around that.
You want your brand to be defined in as much detail as possible and you want all of its many facets to support a focused goal. If your audience engages with upbeat, fun in the sun, punchy, quirky stuff, then you'll want your messages, your site design, your social graphics, your everything to support that.
As soon as you have a plan like this in place, it gives you a reasonable scope to work within too so creating things like marketing plans becomes a lot easier. A brand, when fully fleshed out, focuses you and makes decision making a lot easier.
NOT KNOWING WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO
This is very closely related to knowing your brand and we did just kind of touch on it, but this is important so we'll give it it's header too.
When you're just starting out, trying to speak to a super broad and undefined audience is really difficult. It's SO much easier when you find your niche and work within that.
Growth will come and your plans of a worldwide expansion don't have to be forgotten, just throw them on the backburner for a bit and focus on the people you know are going to want what you're selling.
When you try to attract a huge audience, you end up with too many voices and not enough clarity on what they want and then it becomes difficult to keep your brand focused and your messaging purposeful, making it harder for people to connect with it.
TOO TIED TO TRENDS
Curly script fonts, watercolour logos, pink, sayings like "you go girl!". They're all trends and, while there's nothing wrong with them, you'll want to make sure they're actually things that are aligned with your brand style before you use them.
If they are, then that's awesome! Showing you're relevant is never a bad thing. If they aren't though, then ditch them because they'll just end up diluting your brand, confusing your audience, and dragging your business down.
NOT HAVING A NICHE SERVICE OR PRODUCT OFFERING
When you're just starting out, there's no need to have a ton of things on offer. In fact, it's a lot better to narrow what products and services you have on offer to just a few items so you can focus on making those items ultra-relevant and must-haves for your niche audience.
Having too many things right away can just dilute what your business is about and, again, make it harder for people to connect. Being a jack of all trades is one thing, but if you're offerings all over the map, it becomes harder to position yourself as a specialist or expert and being those things is often what gets people excited to work with you.
NOT STAYING IN YOUR LANE
Small budgets can often mean you end up wearing a lot of different hats and playing the part of web designer or brand strategist, even if those aren't your areas of expertise. And that's totally ok! We get it, we've been there, and it's ultra necessary sometimes.
That said, trying to do everything yourself also isn't really possible and sometimes, even though you could maybe try to do that thing, it would take you SO long it just isn't worth it. Being able to stop and recognize these moments, where you need to hire or ask for outside help, is really helpful.
It's also worth saying that we all do it. We all need help, so if it's embarrassment or pride that's holding you back from asking for it, let it go because no one will ever think less of you for it. In fact, they'll probably say "oooh what a brilliant strategist". Or at least that's what we would say!
So keep these things in the back of your minds and when you're having problems, check in with them to see if they could be the root cause of what you're going through.