Business mistakes arise in every venture. Especially in new businesses or first businesses. However, business mistakes offer growth opportunities if you look at them correctly.
In this article, we talk about 5 business mistakes we made when building Counsel for Creators. We also offer lessons on how we fixed those mistakes so that we had less stress, did better work, and grew our business. And you can apply every single one of these lessons to your business.
Let’s look at the top 5 mistakes we made, so you don’t do the same.
Not getting help quickly enough
When we started, we answered our phones.
It might not sound too bad, but the constant interruptions and task-switching made everything take longer.
And it wasn’t just answering phones. It was all kinds of admin stuff. As lawyers, we often spent our days handling all the business tasks and then spent nights and weekends catching up on legal work.
Not a recipe for success. Everything changed when we brought on help. Smart delegation became the game’s name – and it helped us grow with less stress.
The first step was easy. We signed up with Smith.ai to have them answer our phones. It saved us hours a week and gave callers a much better experience.
From there, we brought virtual assistants to help with things like sending invoices, following up with leads, gathering client information, and all of the other things that took up our days.
When we started, we felt like hiring help was out of reach or would be a complicated affair of hiring a new employee. We soon learned that various services exist to help you bring on help as you need, even if it’s only a few hours a month or week.
By investing in help, you can focus more on your work that provides real value.
Wasting money on marketing
I’m a huge fan of marketing – but I’ve also learned that it’s a colossal waste of money.
If you’re not careful, that is.
As a business owner, it’s easy to think that more marketing or customers would solve all your problems. Anyone who claims to solve that problem can easily sway you into spending with them. This is a mistake if you’re not focused on the return on investment and don’t have clear, objective metrics attached to your efforts.
So, instead of spending a ton of money on marketing strategies, we chose instead to look inwards.
That means instead of always looking for more customers, we focused on the customers we already had. We figured that the best way to get more business would be to ensure that our current customers have a great experience. We focused on getting repeat customers and referrals from our best customers.
That shift led to a good portion of our business coming from repeat business or referrals – no expensive marketing needed. The foundation for all of this was to collect regular feedback and reviews from our customers so we could quickly know what works and what does not.
There’s only one type of metric that matters in business.
It’s not revenue. It’s not profit.
It’s a metric that drives all of these.
It’s customer feedback.
Whether it’s NPS, reviews, or testimonials.
Focus on that.
— Jon Tobin (@jontobinla) December 1, 2022
Not investing in coaching.
There’s so much to learn about business. It’s overwhelming.
Everything from marketing to sales to leadership to finance…the list expands, evolves, and confuses the crap out of everyone.
I’ve always spent a lot of time learning about business. I love it, but I’ve also wasted a ton of time going down rabbit holes that led nowhere.
That caused us to miss opportunities and not hit our goal as fast as we could have.
The change came when we invested in coaching.
We transformed our business by working with an executive coach that works with companies like LinkedIn and PayPal. Getting an objective, outside view of our company helped us focus on what’s important and make decisions faster. It also revealed problems and opportunities that would have been hidden.
Having someone outside your company provide you with insight is gold.
It’s also helped us improve at providing strategic and legal coaching through our Creators’ Legal Program. We’ve been able to help hundreds of creative business owners cut through the fog and give them a solid strategic plan backed by real legal advice.
@counselforcreators Creators & creatives – this is the ultimate cheat sheet on the 5 most important things to consider for your business. Focus on these first and the rest will follow. #creativebusiness #creator #entrepreneur #besuccessful #fyp ♬ original sound – Counsel for Creators LLP
Taking on all comers
When we were starting, we took on anybody as a client. It didn’t matter if they were rude, demanding, or wanted something we would have to spend hours researching to do properly. If they had money, we took them as a client. After all, we had bills to pay.
But it turned out to be one of our biggest business mistakes. We constantly had to put out fires and deal with complaints from people who weren’t a good fit. Because we were often trying to appease clients who were not a good fit for our business, we weren’t doing the best work we could.
A total nightmare.
So we started to screen who we worked with – not just to make sure that we would be a good fit for them, but also that they would be a good fit for us. We wanted to work with people who not only needed what we offered and could get value from it but also those we enjoyed working with and working with us.
Once we learned to be selective about who we worked with, everything shifted. Our stress decreased. Our revenue increased. We enjoyed our work more. And most importantly, we worked with people who love us.
The bottom line is that the fast way to growth means identifying who you want to work with and who you don’t.
This lets you take your attention from those who are a terrible fit and focus on those who are a good fit.
Not having written processes
For a long time, it was all in my head. Everything about how we should run the business was either in my or my partner’s head.
That was bad for us and made it hard to build an effective team.
Where everything was in our head, it meant that things were inconsistent, that people had to ask us what to do constantly, and we could not delegate effectively. Business mistakes like not having written processes confuse and make it impossible to scale. It got us into the trap of having to micromanage. We didn’t like that.
So, we wrote everything down.
Since we had been going for a while, that meant writing out dozens of procedures- it took a while.
So I suggest starting early and constantly updating, preferably in a shared tool like Notion, which you can use to link together all these processes.
Beginner: try to do it all yourself
Intermediate: delegate some stuff
Advanced: build a team
Master: help people on your team surpass you
— Jon Tobin (@jontobinla) November 9, 2022
Finale – how to avoid business mistakes
You’re never going to avoid business mistakes. We’re human, so making mistakes is just something we do.
But to grow as a business owner, we need to learn to acknowledge mistakes, extract the lessons, and change course when needed. It’s a life-long process, but one that brings enormous rewards.