Starting a business is pretty exciting. Entering that dynamic startup world full of so many opportunities, events, and motivation, looks like a fairytale that goes smoothly. It seems like nothing can go wrong.
You’re pretty confident and you have a vision that can change the world. You start gathering family and friends from the industry, who can work with you and help you make an impact. You’re ready to do literally anything to succeed and show the world your capabilities have no limits.
However, entrepreneurship is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. There are many reasons to say this, one of them is explaining the most common mistakes entrepreneurs do. According to the American Small Business Association, 50% of small businesses fail during the first five years. Many internal and external factors contribute to failure. The potential of the industries, government regulations, business plan, product quality, pricing plan, product features, competition, or some unexpected events that disrupt the industry.
In order to be in that 50% that survive, you need to fit all the pieces of the puzzle. You might not be able to affect industry trends or government regulations. However, you should be able to adapt to changes and follow the demands of your customers. Many entrepreneurs fail to do this because they expect to have the same amount of work and responsibilities as they did when they used to work for someone else. Many fail because they didn’t anticipate and avoid the most common mistakes entrepreneurs do.
1. Thinking that you’ll change the world
Maybe you’re the next Elon Musk. But, chances are really, really low. What is important to understand is that if you go into your entrepreneurial story with the attitude that you are, you probably won’t achieve anything. For example, Richard Branson said that he didn’t have a grand plan when he was starting Virgin. According to him, if he had had one, he would have messed it up.
Why would you mess it up too? Because you would probably overrate your idea, your company, and your skills. You will dream too much and fly too high, and while you’re up in the sky, you’ll forget about the real aspects of your product that need to be done in that particular moment.
What you need to do is to be realistic. Start small and keep both feet on the ground. All the time. Your goals should be short-term, within the resources you possess. It’s nice to have the vision to become the industry leader, but you should be more focused on your realistic goals.
2. Not listening
What startup founders often do is talk about how great their idea or product is. And they just keep talking without listening to what other, more experienced colleagues have to say. They also love to praise themselves, talking about their skills and gifts. This can be very harmful when looking for potential investors. No investor will invest in a startup that just brags around. No one will believe in people who just talk about themselves without being realistic.
Instead, you need to be very careful when you talk about your business. Ask for advice and listen to it carefully, that’s how you can gain respect and reputation of someone who likes to learn. That’s the kind of people investors want to invest in.
Another voice you should really listen to is the voice of customers. Product reviews should be your guide to modifying your product and adding new features. This way, you can avoid features that they don’t like and save resources. Your customers will become loyal when they realize you are listening to them. One of the ways you can use your customer’s opinion to improve products is co-creation.
3. Not investing in marketing
Customers won’t come by themselves. They need to hear about your product first, and free PR won’t do it. In this time of fierce competition, you need to invest in well-targeted channels, like SEO, social media, and content marketing. The easiest way to start is to see what your competitors are doing.
“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” – Pam Moore, an experienced marketer and CEO of Marketing Nutz
In order to create an effective marketing strategy, you need to have a rockstar marketing team. The best talents also require investments. The technologies keep changing, but it’s always people who are behind them. No technology is worth anything if you don’t have employees who can use them wisely. Hiring one person that is an expert in their field will always pay off more than hiring ten people who don’t know how to do their jobs.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do – we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
You probably want the best talents in your team. But, when they come, you just can’t seem to let go of the tasks you assigned them and you keep controlling them. A good entrepreneur knows how to delegate tasks and let go of them. This is really hard when the company is yours and you want everything to be done perfectly, but you can’t do everything alone.
If you do everything by yourself, you will burn out and just make things worse. Delegating will give you the opportunity to focus on important tasks that will grow and scale the company. Every member of the team should be able to do their best job possible.
The entrepreneurship life isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Your life will change completely and you won’t have the free time you’ve had before. Every second you have will be dedicated to your new business.
Entrepreneurship requires tons of work, sleepless nights, clear goals, and clever business decisions. This does sound very complicated, but when you achieve your goals, the feeling will be priceless. Avoiding these common mistakes entrepreneurs do – is crucial to moving on through the difficult and bumpy road of entrepreneurship.