Any entrepreneur – successful or not will tell you just how hard starting a business is. The first part involves coming up with a product or service that is capable of working successfully, and then to be sure that there is a ready market for your product. Scaling comes next and then other decisions that will determine whether or not your business will go on to become a success.
But this is far easier said than done, as most entrepreneurs with failed ventures (and even successful ones as well) will tell you. The life of startup founders is far from glamorous and you must be prepared to dedicate yourself to the process if you are to succeed. Irrespective of industry and type of business, understanding the common mistakes that most young entrepreneurs make is important to be sure you avoid them.
For most, these mistakes will spell doom for their initial business, but inexperience doesn’t have to mean failure. Having mentors and other entrepreneur friends you can take advice from is always a good practice. The mistakes outlined here are the most fatal that any young entrepreneur can make and steering clear of them is another step towards building a successful startup.
- Thinking you can do it alone: There is a reason why delegation is an important part of leadership. Every good entrepreneur knows that trying to do everything on your own is the short route to burnout and eventual failure. Knowing when and how to delegate and outsource when the need arises will not only save young entrepreneurs time, but get the job done well. You can’t handle everything on your own, so pass on the less important tasks or tasks that need expertise you don’t have to the right person. Proper delegation will give you more breathing room to properly handle tasks that need your attention.
- Expecting to be successful instantly: If you had grand expectations of instant success, save yourself the disappointment. While there is nothing wrong with having confidence and accompanying drive to make your business a success as soon as possible, wanting results immediately is folly. Building a business takes time and making reasonable profit from it takes even more time. Young entrepreneurs need to be realists when it comes to their timeline for making money. One reason a lot of businesses don’t make it past infancy is that their founders have expectations that are too high and too soon. Have realistic expectations and make plans accordingly. Don’t expect to be riding a new car after the first 6 months.
- Being driven by money alone: It’s been said over and over again that the desire to make money alone is not enough drive to make a business successful. Being passionate about what you do, the value you provide and the problems that your startup solves are better motivators than the desire to make money will ever be. The reason for this is that love for what you are doing will keep you going even when there is no chance to make a profit in the foreseeable future. If you provide a service that makes positive impact and adds much-needed value to people’s lives, you will be willing to keep going, even when you haven’t found a proper way of monetizing it. The desire to make money will not keep you in the game that long.
- Not adapting: “The only constant thing is change” is a cliche for a reason. If you’re not adapting in today’s fast-changing business world, or are putting all your eggs in the basket of one product or service, your business will not succeed. When you make a success out of one business idea, don’t rest on your laurels. Always try to find the next thing and exploit every option you have. However, young entrepreneurs should be ready to make changes in the future, because nothing is foolproof. A business that booms today could crash faster than it became successful.
- Not networking: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is one of the biggest truths for startups. You may have appointments all day long, but they may not pay off as much as 30 minutes spent at the right event, talking to the right people. The first rule of networking is Visibility. If people can’t see you, you can’t promote your business.
- Making a service for everyone: Most young entrepreneurs have the misconception that if your products can’t be used by everyone, then it won’t be a success. But if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one – least of all yourself. If your product or service is for a particular group of people, make them your target market and focus on giving them the best product. There is nothing wrong with being specific, no one thing is for everyone.
- Skipping market research: Someone once said there are two kinds of businesses – painkillers and supplements. Basically, a painkiller addresses a pressing need that people have and as such is relatively easy to monetize. A supplement, on the other hand offers extra services that may be good to use, but can be done without. Asking yourself which one your business is is the first bit of market research every entrepreneur should do. The answer will let you know just how much work you need to do in convincing people to use your product. It’s popular knowledge that one of the biggest killers of startups today is a lack of market research. Several young entrepreneurs have ideas that sound like unicorn material to them, but fail to ask the people who they hope will actually use the product just what they think of it. Market research is important and very few businesses ever succeed without it. The few that do are painkillers – even though the owners of the idea don’t know it.