If you own your own business, then you know that sometimes, your workday can seem like a series of fires that you not only have to continually put out, but you often have to do so while utilizing the same diminishing bucket of water. Even if you’re great at identifying kinks and resolving them, hard-to-eradicate trouble spots are still likely to exist for you — especially with the many divergent hats small business owners are forced to wear.


Let 2014 be the year of learning from someone else’s errors. Regardless of whether you specialize in selling logo pens online, or you operate your own cleaning company, operating in the black is essential. As the new year progresses, here is a look at a handful of common business mistakes that you need to avoid in 2014 so you and your venture can ring in many new years to come.

Focusing Too Much on Social Media

Marketing and advertising are key elements of almost any successful business’s strategy, and the advent of social media, with its billions of adherents, seems like it would be a small business owner’s dream. In many ways, it is; however, social media can be a tremendous waste of time for the same reasons it’s so popular, and dangerously, it can make you shirk traditional advertising methods that may be more effective. Spend a set amount of time each day making targeted updates and posts and gathering people to your network. Do not browse, and do not overstay your allotted time; if you find your time wasting away, utilize other marketing methods. Even though they’ll cost money, more-traditional methods will target demographics that social media neglects.

Being Too Computer-Focused

The Internet has made business travel needless — whether cross-country or across the office — and while it can be tempting to stay on your computer for all hours of the day, the preservation of face-to-face communication with employees, partners and customers is still invaluable. Instead of twenty text messages or a dozen back and forth emails, grab a cup of coffee and have a sit-down conversation. It will save you time, and it will help you keep your finger on some of the business pulse that can’t be felt from behind a screen.

Blaming the Government for Anything and Everything

Regardless of where you fall politically, it’s almost a sure bet that the government has done, is doing or will do something that hurts your bottom line. While it’s tempting to scapegoat the problems that arise from new legislation, regulations, licensing requirements and the like, the truth of the matter is that complaining and blaming won’t change your need to comply, which makes it a waste of precious time and energy.

Doing Your Own Accounting

Unless you own an accounting business, outsource your bookkeeping needs, or hire someone to do it for you. From having someone else on the lookout for errors to the time and stress you’ll save yourself, not doing your own accounting will make 2014 a much better year.

Not Backing Up Data

A not-so-old adage claims that data doesn’t exist until it exists in three places. Even if you conduct your work in the cloud, you need to have multiple places where your important data is backed up so that in the event of a computer failure, hack or other data-compromising experience, you can still have access to everything you need.


Many new business owners charge too little for their products or services. Whether they don’t fully understand the market or they believe undercharging will give them a competitive advantage, undercharging has disastrous effects on profits. Do your research on what others within your industry charge and honestly assess where your product or service fits in. Once you’re through the start-up phase, implement strategic price increases until what you do is being valued appropriately.

Ignoring Taxes Until the End of the Year

Taxes are a reality that most business owners find so unpleasant that they effectively think about them too late. Regardless of whether or not you have enough cash in the coffers to pay on time and avoid late fees and penalties, not being proactive in thinking and preparing for taxes can have other negative consequences. Start considering tax ramifications before you do something; that way, there won’t be any surprises come tax day.


No matter what challenges you and your business face in the coming year, if you avoid these common business blunders, you’ll find you are happier, more productive, more efficient and more successful.