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What is the Biggest Mistake Small Businesses are Making Today?

All Small Businesses make mistakes, but what is the biggest one?

Well, when we asked a group of Small Biz experts this question, the answers came in across the board. By the time you read all their answers you may have formed an opinion or two yourself.

Mark Schaefer, Best Selling Author of Two Books

Many new businesses are focused on making a product but don’t understand marketing and have not budgeted for marketing appropriately.

Follow Mark on Twitter or learn more at Schaefer Marketing Solutions.


Andrew Warner, Founder of Mixergy

Have you had a friend who tells you he wants to get fit, so he’s going to go out and buy the perfect sneakers. Then, he says the’s going to join the right gym and get a personal trainer. And he’s not going to start till after holidays. Actually, he says he might even wait till after his birthday, so he could start at just the right time.

What happens to that guy? He never ends up working out, right? He putzes around, waiting for perfection. He should just put on whatever old sneakers he has and go outside and run for as long as he can. The next day he should do a little bit more and the day after that build on it a little more.

Any way, that’s the same advice I’d give founders. Stop putzing around and just launch.

Follow Andrew on Twitter or learn more at Mixergy.


John Warrillow, Founder of Sellability Score, Author Built to Sell

Mistaking a profitable business for a valuable one. Businesses that are highly dependent on their owner can be highly profitable but worthless. To have value to others a business has to be able to be run without the owner.

Follow John on Twitter or learn more at The Sellability Score.


Neil Patel, Co-Founder of Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics

The biggest mistake I see them making is that they aren’t focusing their efforts on 1 thing. Too many small businesses try to do too many things at once.

Follow Neil on Twitter or learn more at QuickSprout.


Danny Iny, Co-Founder of Firepole Marketing

The same mistake they’ve always been making, which is thinking that marketing is something that you add on to an existing business, once you’ve figured out all the other details. People think they’re smarter at it now because they turn to social media, but that’s just a tactical difference; the real issue is that marketing isn’t something separate from the rest of your business strategy, it *is* your business strategy.

Follow Danny on Twitter or learn more at Firepole Marketing.


Aaron Strout, Co-Author Location Based Marketing for Dummies

Obviously small business owners are busy trying to run their business. But when I hear excuses like, “I just don’t have time for social media” or “I’m already advertising in the local paper,” my advice would be… you don’t have time for your business to succeed then. In this day in age, relationships are more important than ever. Social networks allow you to scale those relationships and keep them fresh with new content and conversation. MAKE THE TIME.

Follow Aaron on Twitter or learn more at Aaron’s Blog.


Clay Collins, Founder of The Marketing Show

I believe the #1 mistake small business owners make is creating products before demand is unquestionably established. Time and time again, my students have successfully pre-sold large quantities of their products long before investing one cent in product creation (thereby assuring product demand long before product creation happens). This is the opposite of what most small business owners do: spend years of their life and thousands of their dollars creating products that, statistically speaking, will most likely fail.

Follow Clay on Twitter or learn more at Marketing Show.


Lisa Barone, Author, Blogger and Social Strategist

They’re ignoring the Web. No, I know it’s 2012 but this is still happening. Too many small business owners (restaurant owners, you are especially bad at this) still believe all they need to do is build it and their audience will come. Your audience will come, but only if they can find you first. And they’re looking for you online.

The data shows that searches are leaning more toward local every day. That means as a small business owner, you need to do your due diligence and make sure that your customers can find you. Get online. Claim every listing you can get your hands on. Once you own it, control it by spending the time to fill it out completely. Use your correct business name, your correct address, select the correct category, and fill out every field being smart about keyword opportunities. Any cue that you can give that you’re relevant to a particular neighborhood and niche, you should be giving. Success starts there.

Follow Lisa on Twitter or learn more at Voice Interrupted.


Chris Garrett, New Media Writer, Teacher, Speaker

I think the biggest mistake I see is small businesses are getting increasingly scattered, their time is spread over a million different things, and they are spending a lot of time and money on a variety of tactics and activities that don’t necessarily work. We need to focus on just the stuff that is working, serve our customers, and then try experiments if there are resources remaining.

Follow Chris on Twitter or learn more at Chris Garrett.


Jason Keath, CEO and Founder of Social Fresh Conferences

The #1 mistake small businesses make with marketing is not investing in an email list. It is the most stable and most trusted online form of contact. It will outlast Facebook, Twitter, and whatever the next social hot thing is.

Follow Jason on Twitter or learn more at Social Fresh Conferences.


Chris Guillebeau, Author of The $100 Startup

It’s a tossup between a) borrowing money (or thinking that they need to borrow money) and b) failing to launch new ideas quickly.

Follow Chris on Twitter or learn more at Chris Guillebeau.


James Chartrand (Pen Name), Founder of Men With Pens

Well, that all depends on the business, the person and what they’re trying to accomplish, but a very common (and big!) mistake I see is cheaping out from the get-go. A business is a business, and while I understand that $100 startups can be done, it’s a better idea to plan a startup that has classy website design and copywriting geared to get results, like we offer at Men with Pens.

An amateur website? Crappy copy? Fail. It’ll take a long, long time to start pulling in serious money, so the person who goes the cheap route always ends up struggling to make enough money to take his or her business to the next level. And very often, they never make it.

Were I to start a small business today? I’d budget $10,000 just to get it going. And I’d start myself off on the right foot because of it, with a great look and compelling copy. That means my investment would pay for itself quickly… and keep on earning money!

Follow James on Twitter or learn more at Men with Pens.


Warren Whitlock, Author, Speaker and Social Media Strategist

I’m not much for standardized questions… I that virtually every conversation with businesses is the same. I ask “What is your goal?” and most of them don’t have one.

No sense starting until you know where you want to go. Your plan to make a product or provide a service will be torn to shreds by the market, but if you know where you want to go, we can solve for it.

Follow Warren on Twitter or learn more at Warren Whitlock’s Blog.


Rieva Lesonsky, Author, Speaker, Founder of GrowBiz Media

The biggest mistake MOST small businesses make today is not keeping up with technology. Chances are their customers’ shopping and buying habits have changed, and small businesses need to change how they market to, and do business with them. Right now mobile marketing is a very effective way to reach growing numbers of customers, and most businesses have not made sure their website are “readable” by mobile devices.

Follow Rieva on Twitter or learn more at Small Biz Daily.


David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR

Small businesses typically promote their businesses using long-term advertising-style campaigns. It a mistake to ignore real-time. Your customers and potential customers are looking for what you have right now on search engines and talking about it on social networks. While you are planning your next email blast, you are missing opportunities.

Follow David on Twitter or learn more at David Meerman Scott.


Laura Roeder, Speaker, Social Media and Branding Expert

The biggest mistake I see small businesses making is not putting success on repeat. Small businesses will have a successful promotion, find a new way to categorize stock, or come up with a very effective pitch . . . and then promptly forget about it! If something works, systematize it and do it over and over again. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. That’s the fastest path to success for a small business.

Follow Laura on Twitter or learn more at Laura Roeder.


Jim Kukral, Speaker, Author of 9 Books

Paying for advertising when they could be creating content on their own and using the power of the Web to drive customers to their door.

Follow Jim on Twitter or learn more at Digital Book Launch.


Jason Falls, CEO Social Media Explorer

The biggest mistake most small businesses make is they don’t view their website and/or social channels as viable avenues to acquire customers. A website, a Facebook page, a blog … they’re not just signs you buy and stick up and leave there. You build them, nurture them, connect with audiences and cultivate relationships that help feed your marketing funnel.

Follow Jason on Twitter or learn more at Social Media Explorer.