Small businesses have it tough, we have to compete with chains, big box stores and the internet on a daily basis. If you think about it real hard, how many small businesses in your town look to be in good shape? Are always busy? Have a great reputation? I honestly cant think of too many. Let's face it, it's easier to go to Walmart than a toy store, or a furniture outlet, or a video game store. It's an all in one, and on top of that, because of the way they do business, they have the lowest prices. You'd think that with all that is stacked against small businesses to succeed, that they would be going above and beyond and literally thanking every customer that decided to give them their business, but instead, you see these little mistakes made time and time again, and it does nothing but send the business and the dollars elsewhere.

1.) Not giving EXCELLENT customer service - Good isn't good enough, you need to be going above and beyond. Most times, small biz can not offer a better price than bigger outlets, so they need a competitive advantage. The easiest way to gain a competitive advantage over a larger competitor is to have a great customer service culture. I'll give you an example, when I'm doing work on my house, which I'm not very good at, I always need supplies from Home Depot, so I get in my car and drive 10 miles to HD, when I get there, I walk around for about 2 hours trying to find what I need and when I ask an attendant for help, they are as confused as I am on where the product I am looking for may be. Keep in mind, I have an Ace Hardware literally on my street, but because of the way we are programmed, our instincts tell us to go to the bigger store with the fancy advertising, but, when I go in to Ace, they are extremely helpful, knowledgeable and seem like they actually want to assist you. They are always busy and do very well it seems. I always shop for a bargain and try to cut costs, but I give them alot of business strictly because the exceptional service they provide.

2.) Not communicating with the customer - This, just like not giving excellent customer service, seems like a no brainer, but still small businesses neglect communication with their customers and it costs them dearly. I'll give you an another example, A friend of mine started going to a new tanning salon, she commented to me a couple times that it wasn't very clean and they weren't very nice at the front desk. I told my friend to mention it to the person at the desk that the rooms were a little dirty. However, because the desk person wasn't very friendly to begin with, my friend never mentioned it to them because they had no line of communication open. So my friend was there the other night and wanted to upgrade to a better tanning bed, the front desk person said, she could do this for free, because they are closing for good on Tuesday! So nonchalant to mention that they were going out of business! No big deal! Small instances with lack of communication, probably played a big role in this place going out of business for good.

3.) Not having a social media campaign - I am a little partial to this because it is a big part of what I do for small businesses, but honestly, it doesn't make sense to not be involved with social media for your business. On average, in 2010, users spent just under 7 hours a month on social media, Facebook, Twitter etc. 7 hours!!!! Thats just on average, I have friends that have their Facebook and Twitter pages open literally all day. You have the opportunity to have contact with your customers ALL day and inform them about promotions, new products, specials, you name it. People go on their FB and Twitter every day, they DO NOT go to your website every day! But, if you have messages and valuable content consistently, customers will gravitate towards you naturally!

Honestly, I could make a list of 1000, but these are the my Big 3, and I'm not talking about the Celtics! Avoid these and prosper! What are your big three?

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