There are monsters lurking out there, ready to destroy your startup. These are not the ineffective or balky team members that may give you an occasional headache. No -- these are the Godzillas that stalk any successful enterprise with the sole purpose of taking it down. Don’t let these bogeymen scare you out of business. Just make sure you recognize them and avoid them if at all possible.
1. Predatory lenders.
There is a very active market right now for small business loans. Companies are aggressively pursuing small businesses and pressing them to sign financial instruments at oppressively high interest rates. If you already have a relationship with a regular bank or credit union, always go to them first for financial help and advice. If you must go shopping outside of traditional lending institutions, make sure they are a member of a regulatory board like ABA or AAPL. In a roundup of the top rated and researched financing options, Business News Daily outlines a pretty stellar list of general financing options to choose from in case you can’t get a bank loan.
2. Making your numbers instead of thinking.
Zach Atherton, organizational behavior specialist and founder Utah based Laugh and Learn Workshop said, “Performance management systems always discourage free thinking. If your employees fixate on achieving production numbers, as an example, they will not approach challenges and problems creatively or risk a novel solution. Refusing to consider employee initiative to favor raw numbers will mean a more inefficiently-run business since your workers focus on measurements instead of needs.”
3. Ex-employees with a grudge.
Employees are let go for a number of reasons. But whatever the reason is, it’s best to work sincerely at doing it professionally and sympathetically. A former employee with a grudge can wreak havoc on today’s social media. If they hit the right buttons, like sexual discrimination or political agenda, they can leave an ugly cloud over a company that lasts for years. If you have any doubt about how an employee is going to handle being let go, Michael Ehline founder of The Accident Law Blog says, “have your legal person draw up a document that stipulates what that employee can and cannot say in public about the decision to let them go.”
4. Unhappy customer service staff.
Customer service is seen as a dead end job when there are no opportunities for advancement and firm performance expectations in place. That mindset creates an ideal environment for slackers and underachievers. Customer Relationship Management software can be an invaluable aid in guiding and motivating your customer service people. Yet only 29 percent of small businesses use a CRM system.
5. Neglected web design.
Your business is constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs and challenges of your customers and market. Your landing pages, websites, and other online properties, including fan pages and apps, must respond to those changes in real time. That requires whoever is running your online marketing to be flexible and responsive. I’ve seen many companies go down the drain because they outsourced their online marketing to consultants who were unreachable and much to slow responding to requests for updates on simple things like contact forms. Don’t let this happen to you.
6. Getting on the wrong side of the IRS.
Nobody is calling the IRS a ":monster." They are just doing their job. Just make sure your accounting people are doing THEIR job. Filing on time. Asking for extensions when needed. Keeping up on sales tax. Are you up to date on the Nexus laws and exemption certificates? The IRS can be a courtly Dr. Jekyll when you follow the rules, but when you get behind you’ll find they swiftly become a Mr. Hyde. Don’t be that guy!