5 Huge Startup Mistakes in Small Business

by | Mar 17, 2020 | Business Advice, Everything Else

“Most people, including myself, keep repeating the same mistakes.”
― William Shatner

Everyone makes mistakes, and possibly small business owners make more than others. However, anyone looking to become their own boss has a lot at stake, and mistakes can be costly, both in terms of resources and time.  There are five main pitfalls that await those starting on the path to becoming a small business owner.

1. No Market Validation
2. Skipping the Details
3. Work/Life Balance Failure 
4. Unrealistic Income Expectations
5. Blazing the Trail Alone

We applaud anyone willing to jump into the world of entrepreneurship and encourage them to take some time to learn from those who have gone before. A little time and thought can lay a solid foundation for success.  You’ll still make mistakes, but they will be the ones that you can learn from, and won’t defeat you.

1. No Market Validation

We all have great ideas from time to time. Those flashes of insight that breathe fire into our veins. But, before you do anything about starting a small business, stop and assess your idea. 

As creative and brilliant as we may be, there is a chance that someone has already thought of the idea, and has created a market for it.  Nothing is as deflating as putting time and thought into that Big Idea, just to find out that there are already several competitors out there dominating the market.

This isn’t to say that you can’t move forward. Having competition isn’t a bad thing at all. But, as you wade into fray you can see what others have already done, and identify how you are different from competitors.  If you have no idea how you’re different, you don’t give consumers much reason to consider your business.

The other side to market validation is ensuring that there is actually a market for what you want to do.  For example, if you have an intersection of roads, and on three of the corners are burger shops, then its probably not a good idea for you to start another burger shop on the fourth corner.  The market is likely already at capacity. 

Online businesses benefit from being essentially global.  An online business has a much wider audience than a brick-and-mortar business, which will often rely on the population in its immediate vicinty to make money.  Still, an online business will benefit from knowing their market demand, and that their idea is viable.

2. Skipping the Details

A business plan is about getting the details right.  Ignoring or avoiding creating a business plan can leave you directionless, and treading water.  You might not know what you need to do to get your business to the next level if you haven’t stopped and created a roadmap to get from where you are to where you want to be.

A business plan also gives you the opportunity to avoid spending time and energy on tasks that might not actually move you forward.  Busywork is very real, and it can bog down new business owners.  They feel like they are doing a lot (and they are) but nothing that they are doing is going to take their business to the next level.  The result is a stagnant business and a very frustrated owner.

If you aren’t sure what you need to include in your business plan, talk with someone who can give you experienced insight.  A friend or family member can be great resources if they’ve started a successful business themselves.  Or, you can consult with a company like The Entrepreneur Advantage.  With over 19 years and thousands of clients, they have a unique understanding of how small businesses start and grow. Contact The Entrepreneur Advantage for a personal no-obligation consultation about your small business idea. https://theentrepreneuradvantage.com

3. Work/Life Balance Failure

Many startup owners run into difficulty in the beginning because they don’t set boundaries and expectations on their time. Either they feel they need to put every second into the business, or they don’t give it much priority.

Starting and growing a small business is a lot of hard work.  It will likely take more time than a regular 9-to-5 job would.  That said, it shouldn’t take absolutely all the time you have. If you don’t set a boundary on how much you will work on the business each day or week, then you run the risk of burnout, and you’ll end up too tired to continue, or you’ll resent the business and give up entirely.

The flipside is failing to give your small business the attention it needs to actually go anywhere.  As with anything worth doing, your business needs consistent, and considerable, investment of your attention. Spending a few hours a week when you are just starting out will result in very slow progress toward success.  If you really aren’t able to put more into the business, then you need to expect that you aren’t going to see great results for quite a while.  

This can be very discouraging. So, instead, schedule time for your work.  Don’t leave it for when you feel like doing it, or for when you have nothing else to do.  Other activities will inevitably take up your time if your business isn’t a scheduled priority. Set weekly goals, and each week review your progress.  If you didn’t reach the goals that week, assess what happened, and take steps to avoid the issues the next week so you can complete your goals, and get your business off the ground.

4. Unrealistic Income Expectations

Very few, if any, people start a small business thinking they will make zero income.  Often, people take the steps to start their own personal business because they want to make more money than they could as an employee for someone else. 

Entrepreneurship offers a lot when it comes to removing the limits on income and prosperity. However, having a realistic view of what you’ll be generating is critical to avoiding a lot of disappointment that can destroy your small business ambitions.

A little research into average small business profits for the sector you want to enter will allow you to move forward with the right expectations.  No one makes a ton of money overnight. It’s very likely that there will be a lot of effort and time invested before you are paying yourself well.  Having some savings, or getting a small business loan, can give you a financial cushion to help you get to where you want to be. 

Knowing average revenues can also give you a realistic benchmark to compare your business to. You’ll know if your business is healthy, or if you need to spend some time identifying issues to keep the business from failing.

5. Blazing the Trail Alone

Entrepreneurs tend to be trailblazers by nature. They try lots of things and take on challenges with enthusiasm. This excited energy serves them well when it comes time to building a business, but the tendency to take on all the challenges of starting a company by themselves can be a disadvantage. 

By trying to do everything, you end up spending your time going in a thousand different directions, but not going very far in only one direction. A lot of time gets spent, but not a lot of progress gets made.

Additionally, by trying to do it all yourself, you have to spend time learning what you need to do, and then how to do it, and then actually doing it.  The classic example in the industry is building your own website.  You can sit down, and analyze your competitor’s sites, and take a look at different options available.  That can take several hours, if not longer.  

At that point, you know more or less what you want. You then get to spend time learning about different web building tools, comparing hosting options, and decoding the directions for accessing your account and the backend of your site so you can start building it.  Depending on your experience, this can be another marathon.

Finally, you can actually build the site.  Creating layout, color scheme, putting together content, making sure the links work, and ensuring the site looks good on desktop as well as mobile.  For those of us who love this creative process, its time spent doing something we love. For the rest of those who just want to get to work, this step can be far too labor intensive.

This is just one example. It can be applied to bookkeeping, human resources, marketing, and any of the other activities a small business must engage in to be successful.

So, instead of doing everything alone, the savvy entrepreneur finds people who can help. By spreading the work to others who specialize in that task, a small business owner gets to spend more time doing what they wanted: running their business. The Entrepreneur Advantage offers a number of services tailored to small businesses, from web development to social media marketing.  Take a moment to talk with them about what they can do to help you achieve success.

Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make

Mistakes are part of the process of learning something new.  That said, there is no reason to repeat the mistakes that others have made, especially when a little bit of research will save you so much time and money.  There aren’t many shortcuts in business, but one clear route is knowing the common pitfalls and avoiding them with some thought and planning.  You aren’t required to build your business by yourself.  You have many resources to give you guidance and advice to help you reach success.

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