By Debbie Gregory.

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Military veterans have an entrepreneur spirit and tend to start a lot of businesses.  They have years of military service and experiences to draw upon and are highly disciplined.  Like any other group of business entrepreneurs, veterans also make mistakes. Fortunately, many of these mistakes can be avoided.


Below are five of the most common mistakes that most veterans make when starting or running a small business with ways to overcome them:


  1. Trying to do it all alone

There are only so many hours in a day and there is a limit to how much one person can know and do alone. You simply can’t spread yourself too thin and micromanage every aspect of your business and still be successful.


Choosing not to work with other people significantly reduces your ability to serve your customers. When you miss opportunities due to lack of knowledge or experience; keep in mind that you are also missing sales due to lack of time.


The solution

You need to hire the best talent you can possibly find and then empower them to make decisions on their own. As your business grows, you will need to focus more on higher level concerns to keep the business running smoothly. A good leader knows when and how to delegate.  They know that they need to trust their employees to make the right decisions on behalf of the business.


  1. Hiring the wrong people

This is another huge problem since the wrong employees will drain your business of resources, time, and energy.   This can both damage the productivity of the entire team and your business reputation in the market.


The solution

The old ways of hiring people based on one quick interview and maybe calling references are obsolete in today’s market. You need to expand your hiring process, get a little creative so that you can better identify the right candidates for your business. You Might consider adding a relevant task to complete or doing the interviews in group setting to see how the candidates respond and performs.


  1. Ignoring smaller-dollar sales

The number one reason for business failure is that the business didn’t have enough cash to cover regular expenses such as payroll, rent, and utilities. If you are strapped for cash, it may look like a good idea to turn away small-dollar deals.  You should keep in mind that these smaller sales generate cash flow and should not be overlooked.


The solution

Make sure that your business model supports a product or service pricing structure that provides your customers options. Consider a three-tiered approach that has low, medium and high price points. This will help your business capture all of the possible sales opportunities that it can.


  1. Not having the right processes and systems in place

Every single business, large or small, is dependent upon the systems and processes they have in place. Unfortunately, many businesses do not have the right processes and systems in place nor the formal structures to guide them.


The solution

Much like in the military, every single business needs to have a clear set of documented standard operating procedures or SOPs. These work well with a formal business plan to help identify and define how you will setup and run your entire business.


Some items to include in your SOP:

  • How to handle customer complaints
  • How to handle interviews
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Purchase order requests
  • Moving cash to the bank
  • Financial record keeping


  1. Not having a clear marketing message

Your business must have a clear marketing message that is relevant, compelling, and interesting to your prospective customers. If your business is lacking a clear marketing message, potential customers may people assume you do not understand or care about their needs and only want to make money from them. They will go elsewhere.


The solution

The best way to improve your overall marketing efforts is to create a dynamic message that solves a problem, meets a need, or fulfills a desire for your target customer. Our world today doesn’t appreciate the one-size-fits-all model of the past. Customers demand that a company caters to their specific needs. They also do not want to feel pushed into buying anything. As a small business, you need to figure out exactly what your target customers’ need and spend your marketing dollars educating or entertaining them with your offerings.