05 Oct Starting Your Own Business? Incredibly Easy Ways To Avoid 9 Common Mistakes
You’ve taken the plunge.
You’ve launched your dream business and are set to conquer the world.
That calls for a pat on the back.
That also calls for a little mindfulness.
“The key to success is to identify mistakes, learn from them, and prevent them from happening again” ~ Mike Michalowicz
Here are 9 common mistakes that entrepreneurs often make when starting their business.
You may have come across some of these stumbling blocks, or may have prepped for them. You may even have met some of these challenges well. Either ways, this will ease your way ahead.
Brace yourself. Let’s begin?
1. Giving up your job too soon
You love your business idea.
You’re confident that people will love it too. But does it mean you quit your job right away?
Leaving your job and starting your own thing do not always go together.
It’s different if an angel funder’s got your back. Or if you have a 3-yr fund reserve (though even that may not be enough).
But it’s best to keep a good thing going while you can.
If your job is well-paying and gives you time to work on your business idea, don’t give it up yet.
Let it pay your bills and take care of daily needs.
Keep building your new idea on the side.
Keep doing your side-hustle.
2. Skipping consumer research
I often meet entrepreneurs with great ideas. They’re excited about their new venture, but dismissive about consumer research.
“I know who I’m talking to,”
“The target audience is just like me,”
“Nothing different will come up in consumer research,” are common refrains.
Of course, you know your audience well. That’s why you launched your business in the first place.
Yet 42% of failed start-ups say that they failed because there was no market need for their product. (CB Insights Report)
You can understand your buyer more deeply – his challenges and pain points.
You may get insights to sharpen your product or service, and help serve up something superior.
You can even charge a premium with ease, keep your business relevant and get more repeat buyers.
All in all, consumer research increases the likelihood of your venture becoming a success.
Lend ears to your consumers often and they will drop precious advice.
3. Demanding your corporate pay from your new venture
When my clients launch their dream ventures, they often expect it to pay them as much as their last job, if not more.
If that doesn’t happen, they’re harsh on themselves and their business.
They doubt their capability and (sadly) even their business idea.
Truth is a new venture is unlikely to pay as much or more than your salary from day one. This is especially true if you’ve held a mid-senior level job.
Most businesses need investment beyond your time. Except when you have a funded business and are drawing a salary.
Or maybe you’ve started out with loads of experience and a profitable business model.
Like David, a talented art director with 20 years of experience and a great standing in the market. He ventured out on his own and is earning twice his last corporate salary. He only invests his time and in his MacBook – making his business much profitable.
Don’t beat up your business because it’s not paying as high.
It may not do so in its early months.
Nurture it and allow it to give back.
4. Expecting clients to buy immediately after a launch
Overnight successes are the stuff of candyfloss tales.
The baby you nurtured will take its due time to mature, and will need thought and care from you.
You have been neck deep in your business. Your friends and their friends know all about it. Let this not be an illusion that the world knows your business.
It’s important to realise that they are still only your inner circle.
See how you can put yourself out to drive traffic in.
Tap your existing relationships. Start meeting people connected to you.
Consider cross promotions with a friend whose business talks to the same audience. Their offerings should not conflict with yours.
Your Yoga instructor could pipe in with client referrals for your health coaching business.
Put your business out on social media. Keep your content sharp and presence consistent.
You’re in bootstrap mode. So if a friend wants to cover your story in the media, say yes. Repurpose that story in your marketing content. Put it up on your social media channels.
Do all that it takes to get eyeballs.
The effort-to-result equation may seem disproportionate for now, but keep at it.
5. Not being open to failure
“I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
By now, you’re realistic enough to know that your first idea may NOT take-off like a dream.
It may not even work in the exact form that you first put it out.
Be open to make changes, tweaks, turn the idea around or scrap it completely.
When seasoned entrepreneurs launch a new idea, they often say ‘bring on the failures’.
Failure is just a course-correction.
In fact, the faster you fail, the closer you can get to success.
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” ~ Elon Musk
Samsung Sanghoe shipped dried vegetables and noodles to Beijing before expanding. Tough phone-makers Nokia started with making a more delicate product: paper.
Stay connected, yet detached from your idea.
Allow failure to pivot your business to where it’s meant to go.
6. Hanging out in the compare zone
Ever wondered how so many people out there write blogs so well?
It’s because they started out long ago and perfected the art with time.
Pulling back because others seem far ahead is no good.
Comparison is poison.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe
Face any failures, see your fears in the eye and keep moving.
If you’re passionate about a certain kind of work, be sure there’s a market for it. There’s a reason why that passion is alive in your heart. Trust that.
There will be voices – “this won’t work” – and there will be detractors.
Tune them out. Tune in to your inner voice and just go.
7. Operating from outside your ‘zone of genius’
I know an entrepreneur, passionate about ideating, strategising and fronting deals. But execution is not his thing.
He recruits experts who love putting things together.
He delegates and does only what brings him alive – his natural “zone of genius”.
It’s important to know and realise that we all have a unique genius and purpose in life.
Those who own, understand and play to their strengths excel in their fields.
British motivational speaker and business consultant Marcus Buckingham speaks about putting strengths to work.
If your child scores an A in English, an A in Social Studies, C in Biology and F in Algebra, what do you focus on? The world we live in, is set up to focus on the F’s, but it’s in the A’s that the ‘zone of genius’ lies.
It’s through your strengths that you best serve the world.
8. Getting affected by others’ opinions
“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” – heard it often? Now is the best time to practice it.
Get thick-skinned about opinions from those who do not matter.
Ignore unsolicited advice from relatives. Let it slip off like water over butter.
But if you must hear them out, turn it to your advantage.
Treat it as an opportunity to strengthen your own conviction about your business.
Actually sit them down with a pen and paper, list out every word they say. Even ask for advice. Give it its due and see if there is any merit at all.
Use it as a way to tie up loose ends.
Listening to someone outside your circle may unlock a fresh perspective to your work.
9. No staying power
7 out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, and only a quarter run 15 years or more. (Source: Forbes.com http://bit.ly/2fnLCym)
I believe the best way to run a business, is to keep – “running”.
A business is bound to have its ups and downs.
No matter what, show up, be there and stay put.
Use good times to create wealth. Use the not-so-good times to polish your craft and hone your product.
Keep running, because you don’t want to give up 5 mins before the miracle.
Driving a business is about growing larger than your mistakes.
Be careful of when to quit your steady job and take the plunge.
Do not undermine the importance of traditional consumer research in honing your offering.
Once in, set your expectations right – whether financially or as client conversions.
Be open to failures, because they are anything but that.
Steer clear of the “compare zone” and definitely stick to your “zone of genius”.
Finally, keep unwanted opinions at bay and hang on, no matter what.
Reading up a list of things that can go wrong does not mean that you will end up doing them. It only means that you can now be watchful. And if you sense the makings of any of these, you’ll know the right time to pull yourself out.
Dive into your great new business. It’s simpler than you think.
Any of these sound like mistakes you could mend? Or have you faced any other stumbling blocks while starting your new business? I’m happy to help you.
Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s figure.
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