Make the Right Mistakes

Guest post by Kevin L. Simister, CPA, Hawkins Cloward & Simister

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”

That, as Yogi Berra put it, is why most businesses fail. If you want your business to succeed, you must make the right mistakes–the kind of mistakes that make you stronger and better. The wrong mistakes can kill your business.

Wrong Mistake #1: Not understanding that it’s never “just business.” It’s always personal.
The greatest value you can deliver to clients and customers is having genuine concern for them and an interest in helping them solve problems and create success. Your attitude towards your customers and co-workers shows in everything you do. You must create an atmosphere of care, service and support, or you end up with a culture of failure.

Wrong Mistake #2: Failing to set goals and monitor them.
This mistake has two components: 1) failure to properly plan, and 2) failure to get current, accurate reports. A weekly dashboard report on the critical factors for your business is a must. Every business should have performance goals that are monitored.

Wrong Mistake #3: Doing your own payroll… and any other task that diverts your attention from the important issues facing your business.
Many jobs are highly specialized and can be outsourced easily and inexpensively. Payroll reporting is one example of a task that can seriously hurt you if you get it wrong.

Wrong Mistake #4: Failing to get first-class advice.
The School of Hard Knocks is attended by people who insist on doing everything the hard way either because they think they know best or they refuse to invest in first-class advice. A smart business owner develops a board of top-notch advisors and listens to them (most of the time).

Wrong Mistake #5: Hiring too fast.
Don’t hire someone just because they are available, then try and make them fit. Write a job description and then employ the best person you can find to perform the job. Don’t hire the “best athlete”; hire the best person for the job.

Wrong Mistake #6: Not getting the right people “off the bus.”
You do a disservice to yourself, the company and the employee by keeping the wrong person for too long. You are stealing their opportunity to succeed elsewhere and hampering your opportunity to improve your business.

Wrong Mistake #7: Not making family first.
All those old sayings are true. You will never wish you had spent more time at the office.

Kevin Simister is the managing partner of Hawkins Cloward & Simister, one of Utah’s largest independent accounting firms. One of Utah’s Outstanding CPAs in 2007, Simister specializes in business consulting and tax reduction strategies.


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