All business owners make mistakes. This is particularly true when just starting out. The good news is that many mistakes made in the early stage of a business are quite common and well documented. Which means that you avoid them, once you know what they are.
#1. Not Understanding What it Takes
Not everyone has what it takes to build a business. It requires hard work, sacrifice, buckets of patience, a lot of resilience, and unwavering self-belief.
Many business owners begin full of energy, enthusiasm, and drive, but then they hit bumps on the road and encounter setbacks, which knocks the wind from their sails.
If you are going to achieve success, you need to have what it takes to face these challenges, stay the course, and overcome them. If you don’t, your business will fail before it starts.
#2. Trying to Do Everything Yourself
Some business owners try and do everything themselves. This is usually because of budget restraints where hiring isn’t an option or because they are unwilling to let go of the reigns and trust someone else to take some of the load.
However, doing everything yourself leads to burnout. But worse, it also hampers the growth of your business because you end up wasting time on tasks and jobs that don’t move your business forward.
If you don’t have the budget to take on full-time staff, maybe you can hire someone for a few hours per week to handle the more mundane tasks. Many business owners, for example, hire a virtual assistant to take care of admin and other such tasks.
#3. Not Taking Downtime
Running a business is a 24/7 job. It’s pedal to the metal every day! You work long hours, and when you’re not physically working, you’re constantly thinking about your business. However, if you don’t take some downtime, you will quickly hit a wall and burn out.
Burnout is very real, and it can have severe mental and physical consequences. The results of which can put you out of action for a long time.
I know that it’s easier said than done, but you have to learn to switch off and let your batteries recharge. Make time for your family and friends, your hobbies, and any other activities that bring joy to your soul and help you unwind.
#4. Failing to Perform Market Research
Before launching your business, you should conduct thorough marketing research. This will help establish that your business idea is viable, and it will give you a clear understanding of your target audience, the competitive landscape.
There are different ways to perform market research. You can hold focus groups, conduct surveys, use competitive analysis tools, measure footfall (important for high street businesses). The more information you gather, the better.
After conducting marketing research, you will know the lay of the land and be able to make informed business decisions that position it for long term success.
#5. Underpricing Your Product or Service
It’s quite common for new businesses to underprice their products and services to get a competitive edge. However, it’s not a sustainable strategy, if you can’t compete and make a profit, you won’t be in business for too long.
Beyond profitability, underpricing also lowers the perceived value of your product and services, which cheapens your brand image. This is the last thing you want your potential customers to think. Such a perception can have a long-term negative effect.
Bottom line is that nailing a competitive price point is tricky. It requires testing and feedback. However, underpricing is not the way to go, ultimately it’s a recipe for disaster.
#6. Not Seeking Legal Advice
There are a lot of legalities involved in setting up and running a business such as creating corporate entities, applying for trademarks, signing property contracts, etc.
And when it comes to such legal matters, you must ensure that you dot I’s and cross T’s. If not, you can end up in legal hot that can prove very costly – and not just in terms of money.
Although legal advice does not come cheap, it’s an expense that all businesses have to swallow. Trying to navigate the legal side of your business by yourself is not a wise move.
#7. Poor Cash Flow Management
Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business. You never want to get into a situation where your incoming cash flow is insufficient to meet your outgoing cash flow needs.
Poor cashflow will impact your ability to buy inventory, pay loans and bills, and pay staff salaries. All of which are essential to the survival of a business.
To stay on top of your cash flow, you should perform a cash flow analysis each month. This will help you budget and plan to meet your outgoings for the month ahead.
#8. Failing to Draft a Business Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. And it rings so true when it comes to your business.
If building a business is a journey, your business plan is the road map that gets you to your final destination. It documents challenges, objectives, and goals, and the strategies that you will use to achieve success.
Aside from providing you with a road map, a business plan is also necessary if you want to secure a loan from a bank or get financing from investors.
#9. Not Seeking the Advice of Peers
You might be the smartest person in the world (or at least you think you are), but you should not close yourself off to advice from those who have gone before you or are on the same journey. In fact, you should seek it out!
The more input, insights, and knowledge you can gain, the better chance you have of succeeding. Unfortunately, too many business owners let their ego get in the way of asking for help and advice.
You should join entrepreneur groups on Facebook, join your local chamber of commerce, and if possible, you should create your own mastermind group.
#10. Not Having a Distinct Brand
To achieve success in today’s consumer-savvy world, you need to build more than a business: You need to develop a brand. However, many small businesses don’t invest in developing a brand, at least not beyond designing a logo.
A brand is more than a logo. It’s the personality that you want to convey to your customers – what you stand for, your values, and your ideals. Branding is not just for big businesses; it’s for businesses of all sizes.
Having a distinct brand identity helps you to stand out in a crowded market place makes your business more memorable and fosters customer loyalty.
You should have a brand vision from the outset. Building a brand does not happen overnight but its something you can work towards.
Move forward with confidence…..
Don’t ever be afraid of making mistakes because as a business owner, its par for the course – it’s going to happen. However, it’s essential that you learn from them and then move forward with confidence.