In the business world, what you don’t know can hurt you. In statistical hypothesis testing, there are two main types of errors: Type I and Type II (makes it easy to remember).
Type I errors are false positives, meaning you think something is significant, when it really isn’t. For example, you might see your sales drop from one month to the next and think that it’s because your quality of production has dropped, when in reality it’s just due to an innocuous seasonal fluctuation.
Type II errors are the opposite -- they’re a failure to acknowledge something significant when it does exist. For example, you might not realize that your logo makes a bad first impression, basing your idea of its success on bad or incomplete data.
In general, Type II errors are worse -- think about a fire alarm not going off when there’s an actual fire versus a fire alarm going off when no fire is present. And in the business world, it’s even worse, because you may never get the chance to realize what’s actually hurting your enterprise.
As an entrepreneur, be wary of these six unseen errors that can hurt -- or even ruin -- your business.
1. You do too much.
The entrepreneurial life is an exciting one, and it’s easy to become seduced by the hundreds of ideas you have to make new products or make old products better. The problem is, you have a limited amount of attention and energy to spend -- and you can’t spread it around to dozens of different areas if you want to be efficient. Focus on one thing at a time.
2. Your sales team isn’t informed.
Your sales team is responsible for getting your product in the hands of consumers -- but just how well do they know your product? How well do they know your company?
They may be able to run down the list of “advantages” you cooked up for them or tell you everything there is to know about your pricing structure, but do they know how to address the hard questions? Can they explain how to troubleshoot common problems or what your company will do if something goes wrong? Make sure everyone on your team is as informed as possible.
3. You’re targeting the wrong audience.
The definition of “wrong” here is the kicker. You might be targeting an audience that receives your product decently -- but is it the best audience for your product? If not, then it’s the “wrong” audience.
If you start out with the preconceived notion that one type of person will buy your product, all your research will be focused on how well that type will receive your product. You may completely neglect other target markets simply because you never had the chance to think of them -- and those audiences may hold just as much, if not more, potential.
4. You overpromise.
When writing your website copy or talking about a potentially lucrative deal, it’s tempting to make your product sound perfect and present your business as the flawless, unparalleled leader of the industry. However, if you promise more than you can actually provide, it may harm your reputation in the long run. It’s better to be conservative, under-promising and over-delivering. You may lose a deal here and there, but the ones you win will stay with you forever.
5. Your marketing is incomplete.
This mistake falls into the same category as knowing the right target audience. You might have a decent marketing campaign in place and see a positive return on it -- but are you doing everything you can? If not, you could be missing out on thousands of new website visitors a month or millions of dollars in potential revenue.
Take a close look at everything you’re doing to market your company. Audit these processes regularly and always ask yourself, “What more can we do?”
6. You’re growing too fast.
If you’re a new company, the prospect of growth may seem unequivocally positive. A bigger operation means a bigger potential audience, more sales, more revenue and more profit -- except this isn’t a given.
Growing too fast leaves your organization vulnerable to growing pains. For example, in a mad dash to hire more people, you may hire the wrong people for the company. Your customer service team may not be ready for the influx of calls. Your servers may not be able to handle the increased traffic -- when all’s said and done, it’s far better to grow your company in a gradual, steady course.
Once you identify these potential issues with your company, solving them isn’t much of a challenge. You can carefully manage your growth, scale back to more realistic promises, and provide your sales team with more ammunition. The real problem is identifying them -- you can look these problems in the face and still not know they’re there.
If you’re in doubt, seek outside opinions from advisors, fellow entrepreneurs or even your own team. A fresh set of eyes may be able to see what you can’t -- being too close to the problem to know it’s there.