Pagoda Blog

8 Common Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners

July 1, 2021

They say the best way to learn is to make mistakes, but as a small business owner, you can’t always afford to learn through trial and error. Learning from others’ missteps is an equally (if not more) effective strategy, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and technology. Here are 8 common mistakes made by small business owners that you can learn from without personally suffering the consequences.   


1. Trying to manage IT by yourself 

Small business owners often stretch themselves too thin, trying to do everything themselves in order to cut down on costs. The problem with this approach, especially when it comes to IT and cybersecurity, is that it will end up costing you a lot more in the long run. A data breach, phishing scam, or old operating systems can all lead to major setbacks through data loss, operational disruptions, and even legal fees. It’s best to hire a Managed Service Provider to ensure continual and effective monitoring and management of your IT systems. 


2. Leaving cybersecurity know-how to the IT department 

Assuming you have an IT department or Managed Service Provider (see above), it can be tempting, or even seem appropriate, to simply leave cybersecurity matters entirely to the experts. A qualified IT team, however, will recognize that your cybersecurity is only as strong as your weakest link. And your weakest link is usually an internal team member who is unaware of cybersecurity threats such as phishing scams, weak passwords, and unsecure internet connections. Cybersecurity is integral to daily tasks, like checking email, which means that every team member should receive regular training


3. Trying to manage your customers without a CRM system

If you value customer service and you want to grow your business, then you need a CRM system. Staying in touch with your customers and continually nurturing that relationship is incredibly challenging to do without the support of an automated system. Unfortunately, too many small business owners attempt to manage all their customers through a confusing patchwork of manually set calendar reminders, sticky notes, and emails. This strategy inevitably leads to overwhelm and valued customers falling through the cracks. A CRM system lets you keep all your customer data in one place, helps you stay consistent with data entry, keeps you from forgetting to follow-up, and allows you to focus on your product or service. 


4. Assuming that if you make it, they will come 

No matter how amazing your product or service is, you have to be proactive when it comes to growing your customer base. As a small business, there are simple, affordable ways to promote your offerings and increase website traffic. It’s easy and free to set up a Google My Business listing and then take advantage of the useful features, such as Google Posts, their online inventory tool, and Local Campaigns. You can also implement strategies to improve your search ranking and drive more visitors to your site. 


Related post: Can Rich Snippets Improve Your Website’s Search Ranking? 


5. Not taking privacy seriously enough until it’s too late 

Data privacy is essential for today’s business owner. It’s your responsibility to protect the privacy of both your customers and your employees through the enactment of robust privacy practices and compliance. Whether you collect emails for a newsletter or are an online retailer conducting online transactions, it’s important to have protections in place for people’s personal data. There are serious financial and legal consequences should you experience a data breach and customers have come to expect a certain level of security when asked to share their information online. 


Switching your domain to HTTPS is a must before you collect any data and we highly recommend using two-factor authentication to secure your accounts. You may also consider obtaining your HIPAA seal of compliance if you deal with any personal health information, either directly or indirectly through a client. 


Related post: What the California Privacy Rights Act Means for Your Business


6. Keeping employees tethered to the office  

While not every business can embrace a remote workforce, many have learned through the coronavirus pandemic that allowing people to work from home can have huge benefits for morale and productivity. With faster internet becoming available countrywide, the ability to store data and files in the cloud, and the availability of the video conference call, requiring employees to always be physically in the office no longer makes sense. Whether you choose to transition to an entirely remote workforce or plan to offer more flexibility with designated work-from-home days, it’s important to have security policies in place to protect company data.  


Related post: Why You Need to Move Your Business Online (And How To Do It)


7. Ignoring online reviews 

Most customers these days turn to an online search engine to find your service or product and to learn more about your business. A large part of this research process is reading your business’s online reviews. These reviews live both on online review platforms such as Yelp and Google Reviews and on social media platforms. While you can’t entirely control what people say about your business, you can monitor and manage the conversation to maintain or improve your online reputation.    


8. Not planning for the worst

Natural disasters happen, from fires to floods, and if you don’t have a plan in place, it could mean a huge financial setback or the end of your business. A disaster recovery plan can mitigate the damage and ensure you still have access to critical data, applications, and systems that you rely on for daily operations. 


Feature photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels


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