Starting your own company means you’re no longer at the whim of a boss, and that tends to be a big selling point when hopeful entrepreneurs are thinking of breaking out on their own. Yet there are a few big things that the boss was doing for you; namely, keeping you on the right track, covering a lot of bases that you might not have considered, and since you were gainfully employed there, managing the finances and marketing in order to keep the business running smoothly.
In other words, that boss you were so eager to escape knew what he was doing. Do you?
If you’re dead-set on becoming an entrepreneur, you’ll have to make sure you’re not messing up in some crucial areas or you could be right back working for someone else before you know it.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make, which could doom nearly any business.
1. Not Getting Help
Successful entrepreneurs know that they don’t know it all, and that there’s a wealth of wisdom out there to help them along. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs, meanwhile, assume that they know their product in and out, so naturally they know everything about the business they’re in and the best ways to sell that product.
Unfortunately, that big-headedness doesn’t get them very far. Not being open to learning from other people or other businesses, is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make. Whether it’s finding a mentor, hiring a consultant, or simply reading everything there is to read and watching every video there is to watch about your industry, you have to seek out as much help as you possibly can if you want to be successful.
2. Failing to Plan
Plenty of successful business owners have started their enterprises without a business plan, but most of them will tell you that they’d wished they hadn’t done it that way. After years of muddling through and finally getting it right, those experienced business people will tell you that they wish they would have taken the time to lay out the budget, understand their market and take the other plodding steps of creating a business plan.
Sure, writing a business plan can be really tedious work, but it helps you to fully understand the ins and outs of your industry, and to work through the possible problems you might encounter with your strategy. If you’re not taking this all-important step, it’s a pretty sure-fire way to fail as an entrepreneur.
3. Ignoring the Competition
Part of creating a business plan is working to understand your market and size up the competition. But even if you did that during the business planning phase, are you doing anything else about your competition afterward? It’s not enough just to do the work in the beginning. You need to keep it up.
If you’re not paying constant attention to the products your competition is rolling out, how they’re marketing those products, the messages they’re sending and the platforms they’re using, you could definitely tank your business. Constant vigilance will help you not only match what the competition is offering, but also devise steps you can take to outdo the competition as well.
4. Not Making Marketing Priority #1
Entrepreneurs tend to take pride in knowing their businesses inside and out. If they’re in the tech sector, they’re proud to expound upon the subject and explain the ins and outs of design, manufacturing, and all the rest. If they’re selling flowers, they can recite the botanical names of nearly every bloom known to man. It’s likely that they spend a lot of their free time learning more about their particular industry.
The mistake there is that they’re focusing only on the industry they’re in and ignoring the fact that marketing their business is what is going to make the sales and bring in the money. You can have the best product in the world and know it better than anyone else out there, but if you’re not able to adequately explain to a prospective customer why they should buy that product, the company is going to be doomed.
For any type of business, marketing should be priority number one. Part of that goes back to the business plan. If you didn’t spend the time to create a business plan and to go through the sections that cover marketing, there’s a good chance your great idea is going to fail.
5. Trying to Do It All
Entrepreneurs often do what they do because they want to be the boss and be in charge. Wanting to be the leader is perfectly OK, but that doesn’t mean the entrepreneur has to be the person who does everything. A big learning curve for entrepreneurs is learning to let go, and to trust that other people are capable of handling important aspects of the business.
For one, trying to do everything yourself is a recipe for burnout and there’s nothing that’s going to sink a ship faster than the captain burning out and leaving no one at the wheel. Secondly, if you want your business to grow and to actually make some money, you’re simply not going to be able to do it all. You have to let go and trust that the people you’ve hired are capable of handling the job you’ve hired them for. In other words, no one likes a helicopter boss and isn’t that one of the reason you yourself struck out on your own in the first place?
6. Not Investing in the Right People
So we’ve established that it’s important to let other people take on some of the work in the company, and to allow yourself, as the entrepreneur and head of the ship, to take some things off your plate. That said though, you have to be really, really careful about who you bring on.
When you find just the right person for the right job, you’ll probably be amazed at how much value they bring to your company. On the flip side, bringing in the absolute wrong person for the job can set you and the company back big time. In some cases, it could even doom your business. Companies spend a lot of money on payroll and employee benefits, and as a new business owner, you can’t afford to spend that money unwisely. If that requires you to do more than two interviews to assess a candidate’s abilities, don’t feel bad about it. In some cases, you may even have to bring someone in for a “working interview” or a trial period to help you figure out if they’re right for the position.
7. Not Making Decisions Fast Enough
And that leads right into the final entrepreneurial mistake: Not trusting your gut and making decisions when they really need to be made. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have the time, or the funds, to let bad decisions continue to plague you. If you’ve made a bad hire or a poor financial decision, you have to do what you can to cut your losses as soon as possible. With the tight financial margins that so often come with start-ups, not making your decisions fast enough could cause you to lose your shirt.
As an entrepreneur, the world is your oyster but then again, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Start with this list of things to do and not do, though, and you’ll at least be headed in the right direction.
Are you an entrepreneur? Do you have any other advice on what mistakes a young entrepreneur should avoid? Please share with us in the comment section below.