You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve recently started your own business, and you hope to avoid common pitfalls. You’ve Googled “startup mistakes,” and read 243 posts — all with titles beginning with a number and ending with, “To Avoid,” “Being Aware of,” or “I Learned the Hard Way.” You’ve gleaned some good ideas, and a few of the warnings have saved you pain — so why one more post? Because one of these 7 mistakes will be something you haven’t considered, and others will remind you of actions you need to take.
Not seeking mentors — Why should you re-invent the wheel? Evaluate your personal weaknesses and seek advice from experienced business people. They paved the roads you’re travelling. Where do you find such mentors? Business networking groups, clubs, and your local Chamber of Commerce.
Not beta testing — Not only should you test your product or service to know if it’s marketable and in demand, but how to market it. What do consumers want? What problems do they want your product to solve? Just because your friends and family LOVE the idea, doesn’t mean your target audience will. Test it before you invest.
Incorporating too soon — Should you incorporate your business? That decision should come with advice from an expert, but if you’re still at the solopreneurial or freelance stage, you may be jumping the gun to incorporate.
Not having a backup plan — Let’s face it, your idea may fail through no fault of your own, like from an economic downturn. What then? Keep your options open. Continue networking, looking for opportunities — just in case.
Working in the business instead of on it — This is tough when you’re new and small — you may have to do everything in your business. It’s more important as you grow. It’s simple — if you’re doing all the work, who’s growing the business?
Poor hiring decisions — I’ve seen this time and time again — poor hiring decisions due to lack of hiring preparation. Before you hire your first employee, create a candidate profile, job description, and an interview plan. Would you guess about your taxes, payroll, or banking? Why would you guess about hiring? Take as much guess work out of hiring possible by knowing WHO and WHAT you need.
Not using every marketing tool available — There are many low-cost marketing strategies, including social media integration into your marketing plan. Press releases are another great opportunity. Without any idea what I was doing, I once convinced three TV stations to cover the official opening of a startup in a Greenfield, Indiana, cornfield. Also, participating in networking groups and joining targeted business clubs offer marketing opportunities. And if you have a marketing budget, one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising is vehicles graphics.
Was I right? Did you find something you hadn’t considered? Have you been involved in a startup? What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall you wish someone had warned you about? Let us know in the comments below.