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I Studied 177 Self-Made Millionaires for 5 years, and I Learned That There Are 10 Common Business Mistakes to Avoid

Mistakes are the real-life business MBA.

By fizkes/Shutterstock
By fizkes/Shutterstock

Many business owners and entrepreneurs were part of my Rich Habits Study (51%).

I consider the information they shared with me about their daily habits revolutionary and invaluable. Interestingly, many of the mistakes they made in growing their business were critical to their future success.

Business mistakes stand out like missing teeth. They are so obvious after the fact. You wonder how you could have ever been so silly. But making mistakes is part of being a successful business. In fact, every successful business has a mouth full of missing teeth.

These mistakes offer a learning experience that can never be reproduced in a classroom. Mistakes are the real-life business MBA.

Because business mistakes cost you time and money, avoiding them means you can spend your time and money on things that help grow your business.

Below are some of the common business mistakes the self-made millionaires in my study made and, hopefully, you won’t:

1. Poor quality

High quality products or services are the cornerstone of every successful business. Quality keeps customers/clients coming back. Businesses that produce poor quality are perpetually in search of new customers/clients. New customer/client acquisition is a far more expensive proposition than keeping the old ones satisfied and coming back. Businesses that produce poor quality are always just getting by. They eke out a living.

2. Lack of customer/client feedback

The most successful businesses are in a constant search of customer/client feedback. This feedback is crucial, as it provides important information on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. Every business should ask for feedback on the products/services they provide. Ideally, this feedback is most valuable immediately following a product sale or a service provided. Timely customer/client feedback allows your business to make immediate course corrections to prevent loss of revenue.

3. Over-staffing

Successful businesses hire reluctantly. They keep employee staffing levels at the bare minimum, even during growth phases. Instead, they rely on a core group of highly competent and proven staff members for 80% of sales, and fill the 20% gap with seasonal employees, part-time employees, or outside contractors.

4. Procrastination

Successful businesses adopt a “do it now” mindset. They don’t procrastinate on meeting customer/client needs. Procrastination results in a “put out the fire” response when it comes to meeting customer needs. This “put out the fire” response results in poor quality, dissatisfied customers/clients, lost customers/clients, and potential litigation, costing the business valuable time and money.

5. Lack of vision

Successful businesses know exactly where they are going. They have a very clear vision of their destination. The construction crew they use to turn that vision into a reality? Goals. These company-wide goals are in writing. They are regularly monitored and revised to meet an ever changing business environment. Successful businesses understand that goals tied to their vision help move them forward towards that vision.

6. Failing to keep up with your competition

Successful businesses are tuned in to their industry. They consistently read their industry periodicals or blogs for industry trends and opportunities. They adapt their business to industry changes. They are constantly in “self-improvement” mode, and always improving/expanding their core products/services to match or exceed their competition. Successful businesses have their fingers on the pulse of their industry.

7. Your product/service is not a commodity

Successful businesses have a unique brand that is the result of providing value-added products or services that fill some niche. When your product or service becomes a commodity, it shows up in the bottom line.

8. Poor marketing

Successful businesses have a unique marketing strategy that helps them build their brand. They do not follow the herd. They create their own proprietary strategy through trial, error, and brainstorming sessions with their staff and business partners.

9. Not understanding customer/client wants and needs

Successful businesses know their customers/clients wants and needs — then they create products or services to meet them.

10. Failing to meet customer/client expectations

Successful businesses exceed customer/client expectations. They always try to deliver on a promise. Customers/clients walk away satisfied because their expectations are either met or exceeded.

Thomas Corley is the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” and “Rich Kids: How To Raise Our Kids To Be Happy And Successful In Life.” Follow him on Twitter.

Originally published on Business Insider.

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