Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Business
If you have a terrific idea for a new product or service, or if you have come up with a new way to deliver on a business idea, that’s great! Just remember – for every successful business that’s out there, there are many more on the dust heap of history. Take a look at these common mistakes that can keep you from achieving your dreams.
- Do you what you’re good at, not what you love.
There are a lot of business gurus who preach the gospel of following your passion as you enter the world of the entrepreneur. It sounds like a great thing to do, until you become so engrossed in your passion that you forget to take care of the basic responsibilities of running your business.
Besides, you might not be good at what you love. Have you seen the paintings of former U.S. President George W. Bush, for example? Painting might be his passion, but it’s a good thing that he didn’t use art to support his family. (Just saying.)
So do what you’re good at – and make your money so that you can pursue your passions as hobbies.
- Put together a solid business plan.
If you don’t have a plan, you just have a vision. Unfortunately, visions don’t function on a day-to-day basis. Writing a business plan takes a lot of time and a lot of research, but understanding what you plan to do and (more importantly) how you plan to do it will give you focus once you’re up and running.
- Pay attention to your competition.
Even if you think that you’re the only business out there selling your product or service, given the millions of businesses that have set up shop as brick-and-mortar and/or online enterprises, the chances are that someone else, somewhere out there, has come up with something close, if not the same. So you want to check their pricing and product quality. You also want to check to see if there is more room in the market for your business. Are you opening a maid service? How many maid services are there already serving the target area that you have in mind?
- Take a look at your target market.
First, give your products or services a spin before you sell them to other people. If you don’t try them out, you won’t know if there are any flaws that will kill you in the marketplace. Second, bring in a test group of people that you trust to analyze your product or service and see if it would be useful to them. That can save you a ton of money and time.
- Understand your product.
If you decide that you’re going to start a wedding cake business, you’re not selling white cake and frosting. You’re selling memories, you’re selling an integral part of the most important night of a couple’s life. Understanding that will help you mold your selling proposition.
- Take a close look at yourself.
If you’re a shy and reserved person, you don’t want to be the front man for your own sales organization, whether it’s an MLM business or a donut shop. You want to bring in people who are more outgoing to be the face of your company. You can still start this type of business, but you can’t be the only face that people meet when they come inside. So use your strengths and weaknesses to determine the kind of business you should own and the role you should play within it.
- Make sure you have savings in the bank.
Nineteen out of 20 businesses don’t turn a profit when they open. The business that does make money generally belongs to a contractor picking up existing business. That means that you have to have money in the bank to feed yourself and your family and to use to seed growth within the business.
One way to do this is to augment your savings with a small business loan, either using a bank or a non-traditional lender – or perhaps a startup grant.
- Spend money on marketing.
You might have a terrific idea for your small business. However, without a marketing plan and some paid marketing campaigns, you won’t dent the noise of information that flows into the general market. If you don’t get people’s attention, you won’t make any money, no matter how amazing your concept is.
- Make sure that some of your marketing goes online.
Even if you don’t make a website for your own business, you need a presence – a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn page – but you need this for people to see you. More and more people are spending more and more of their shopping time online, so if you’re not there, you’re not going to thrive for long. Putting together a social media plan is part of this, so that customers see you and start interacting with your page. But the more work you do online, the farther around the globe your business will spread.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate.
Just because you came up with your business concept doesn’t mean that you have to do all the work yourself. In fact, you can’t do all the work yourself. Running a business involves a lot of different tasks, and if you try to do all of them well, you’ll end up failing at all of them. This is where delegating tasks, hiring the right people to complement your skill sets, and outsourcing the low-level, repetitive tasks can save your business. Do you need to do your own books, or can you bring in an accountant? Do you need to handle your marketing, or can you bring in a pro? These are just two areas in which you can put other people to work while you build the business.
If starting a business is what you want for your future, you’re engaging in a lengthy process. These ten mistakes can keep you from succeeding, so make sure that you knock these steps out as you move toward your dream of entrepreneurship.