Today’s post is brought to us by David Bakke, a small business owner in Atlanta.

open small businessA small business can be as simple as reselling items on the Internet or starting an industry-specific consulting service. Unfortunately, though, most people are scared off by the very term “small business,” and understandably so. Over one-third of them fail within their first two years – but certainly not for lack of initiative. You can avoid many of the mistakes of first-time entrepreneurship simply by being aware of the pitfalls. Avoid the following common mistakes to help ensure your business doesn’t become a statistic:

1. Starting in an Area Unfamiliar to You
Be objective about the industry you choose when launching into entrepreneurship. If you want to start a laptop reselling business but don’t know a Dell from a Gateway, your chances of success are minimal. Instead, focus on what you know. We all have God-given talents, and it’s only those of us who recognize and capitalize on them who are going to be successful.

2. Not Marketing Your Business
You may have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows about it, you’re never going to succeed. For the first-time entrepreneur, social media marketing is a marketing gold mine. It’s free, easy to set up, and even easier to use. Create pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and monitor your accounts regularly. Respond to all inquiries and comments quickly and competently, and do your best to make your customer’s experience fun and interactive.

3. Expanding Too Rapidly
If you happen to experience significant success early on, don’t get too excited. Expanding too quickly can create unpleasant cash flow issues, staffing concerns, and a decline in customer service. Whether your business finds success early on or not, consider a more conservative and measured approach when it comes to expansion.

4. Not Focusing on Customer Service
Far too many small business owners miss the boat when it comes to customer service. If you’re compelled to issue refunds or discounts to any customers who are less than 110% satisfied – don’t hesitate to do so. Great customer service is a lost art these days, and with heavy competition in virtually all sectors, providing a stellar experience can truly set you apart from the rest.

Final Thoughts
Be fearless. More than half of all American workers are employed by a small business. Every company in this country – every single one – was started by someone with a dream. Find the area you’re most talented in and passionate about, monetize it, market it, serve your customers well, and the sky’s the limit.

What other mistakes can you think of that first time small business owners can avoid?

David Bakke is a small business owner operating out of Atlanta. He also writes about money saving tips for consumers and entrepreneurs on the blog, Money Crashers Personal Finance.