As a small business owner, you no doubt have a lot on your plate. Depending on the size of your business, you probably wear a lot of different hats too, from CEO and CFO through to marketing manager and book-keeper. So what are some of the common mistakes small business owners make, and how can you avoid them?


#1 Failing to plan

As Benjamin Franklin famously said “failing to plan, is planning to fail”, and this is one of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make. Creating a strategic business plan can help you establish the direction of your business, identify your target customers and market need, as well as set important goals and targets so that you can assess your progress. It’s important too to share your strategic plan with your staff, so everyone is on the same page and understands what’s required of them.

The Solution: The Queensland Government has a number of useful (and free!) business planning tools and resources – check them out here.


#2 Not hiring the right people

As a small business, you can’t afford to be hiring people who are unable to properly carry out their role, or employ a team that does not offer a diverse skill set. As a business owner, it’s important to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and to employ people who complement your and your teams existing skills.

The Solution: Get really clear on the roles you need to employ for and the skills most important to your business. There are a number of interesting personality profile tests you can take online (eg. DiSC Profile), which might help you understand your team’s existing skills and personality types – doing this can help you balance out personalities in your team, afterall teams work best when everyone gets along. Also take time in the hiring and interviewing process, don’t hire someone just for the sake of having the process finalised; make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job.


#3 Disregarding the competition

As the old saying goes “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”, in business you also need to get to know your competitors. If you ignore your competitors, how do you know if your product or service is better or worse? How can you make positive changes to your products and services that will improve your customer experience?

The Solution: Do your research! Find out your top 3-5 competitors and see how they operate, read what their customers are saying about them. Remember you need to constantly be aware of your competitors – this is not a process you do at the start of your business and never think about them again – always keep them in your sight.


#4 Trying to do everything

Possibly the biggest mistake of all is trying to do everything on your own. Whilst you might have a very diverse skill set, you need to remind yourself that you can’t do everything as well as someone who is focusing on one task alone would. Trying to do everything will mean spreading yourself too thin which in turn will inhibit growth.

The Solution: As with point #2, work with people who complement your existing skillset. Also look within your industry and instead of seeing competitors as competitors, look at who you could collaborate with. Remember that two heads are better than one.


#5 Not putting it on paper

Written documentation will be your lifeline. Whether you’re involved in a partnership or small business, if you don’t action your goals and shared ideas of the businesses future, this can be left up to interpretation of a third party. It is imperative to always provide written documentation to support any strategies or business prospects. We recommend speaking with an employment lawyer, to ensure you lawfully comply to standards and all parties are in collaboration with the businesses operation.


How Greenhalgh Pickard can help you to grow your small business

At Greenhalgh Pickard, we are an integrated legal and accounting firm. We have accounting and legal professionals ready to help and provide advice on a number of small business issues. If we can’t help, we’ll be able to refer you onto someone who can. Contact us today on (07) 5444 1022 or email