The Four Sins of Running Our Business

By | September 9, 2006

I’ve been reading the 10 stupid mistakes made by newly self-employed. It’s a good list that all business people should look at! I think our business has made several of them at least recently.

There are four that are worth looking at in my context. Click on them to read about them in context at Steve’s website.

1. Selling to the wrong people.
2. Spending too much money.
5. Assuming a signed contract will be honored.
9. Failing to focus on value creation.

We’ve had over the years some very troublesome customers, yes, even customers who we treated very generously, with free samples, free materials (a considerable expense to a language school), easy payment terms, and generous price reductions. However, these self-same customers have on occasion thrown them straight back in our face. We found out that we had been selling to the wrong people, and we had spent considerable time and money selling to them.

We’ve also spent quite a bit of money on the wrong things. Our first mistake was to hire too many people to work for us. Our increased use of staff led to bigger budget requirements, in staff and in taxes, for us. This would have been alright. We thought that the staff hiring would help us, but in some respects, it has actually hurt us much more because it impacted the nature of our marketing. People had heard we were good, so they came to us for their schooling. However, they often came looking for a particular teacher partner. Perhaps the staff didn’t have quite the same attention to their kids as they had expected, so they left disappointed in some ways.

Unfortunately, when we hired staff, we also found problems in number five. Our staff failed to understand that they were continually expected to be responsible for themselves, show up for work promptly, work hard, whatever. Staff however are human, and they display some of the quirks for laziness, gossiping, tardiness, etc. We failed our staff and ourselves by not recognizing the problems earlier and dealing with them. Moreover, I think we failed to manage some members of our staff due to language barriers.

We have been trying to create value on our product, language teaching, but I think our biggest failing has been not getting the message out there that our teaching works, that our students do get results, and that it is good value for money. All of these are challenges in themselves.

Kenneth