5 Fundamental Mistakes You Should Not Make as an Entrepreneur
As with any entrepreneur, I have gone through my fair share of roller coaster rides. Despite roadblocks and challenges faced at different points of my entrepreneurial journey, I perceive the process of bumpy ups and crashing downs as an inevitable stage of development, sustenance and growth – both individually and for the company.
As Bill Gates once said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” But the truth is, failure might come with a hefty price to pay. Moreover, I dare say, most entrepreneurs set out only to succeed; many may not be prepared or have enough resources to cushion numerous business failures.
With that said, do not let failures hold you back from pursuing your business aspirations. Consider taking relevant “shortcuts” to soften the impact of failures; and you can do so by learning from the failures of successful entrepreneurs.
So, without further ado, here are five common mistakes you should avoid as an entrepreneur. Hopefully, these pointers can help budding entrepreneurs save precious time, resources and unnecessary monetary losses.
1. Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself.
Many entrepreneurs work to drive high-volume sales in order to minimise their losses, reach breakeven quickly and gain profits for expansion. Well, this comes natural and almost instinctively to any entrepreneur, especially when investment funds and resources are depleting bit by bit, day by day.
However, in my humble opinion, diving in too fast and too deep may leave you trapped in an entangled mess.
Although it seems obvious, always ensure that you have made the necessary preparations before pushing ahead with your business decisions; by preparation, I do not just refer to secondary research but also a proper review of your overall resources. It is important to pace your business at a speed with which your team is capable of managing.
Do not over-promise, only to find yourself under-deliver.
Do not get carried away with just – and only just – your business aspiration, because poor management (or underestimation) of internal and external resources is bound to complicate matters and delay timelines.
Carefully assess all factors that could possibly impact the outcome of your business plans. Weigh these factors, buffer and manage your stakeholders cautiously to avoid unnecessary expenses, unhappy customers’ wrath and potentially a bad name for yourself. After all, it only takes one bad incident to wreck a perfectly good reputation.
All is not hopeless for good planning is the key:
- Set purposeful and achievable goals and timelines
- Maintain consistent and transparent communication with your collaborators
Good planning helps to maintain a realistic oversight of your business’ performance, while ensuring deadlines are observed, quality work is produced, and the right expertise is poured into meaningful tasks.
2. Don’t Underestimate Marketing.
Marketing & Advertising is one of the most commonly avoided subjects during the business planning stage. Some are certain that Marketing & Advertising is not a must-have but merely a function that is nice-to-have. When it comes down to the dollar and cents, this is just an extra set of expenses, which most entrepreneurs would prefer to lay off until business picks up.
I beg to differ and the reason is simple. No matter how excellent your product may be, without Marketing & Advertising, no one would know of your product’s existence (let alone its excellence). Start promoting and building a rapport with your audience early. Don’t start when it becomes too dire because then, the “expenses” may turn into losses.
Well-thought marketing strategies and plans will support and lift sales, as well as convey your product’s purpose to a wider group of “potential”.
Here’s a tip: For a start, tap into social media platforms. But don’t stop at social media advertising. Diversify your efforts and identify a few other marketing and advertising channels, which are effective in reaching out to your target audience. This changes with markets and demographics, so be sure to do some homework.
3. Don’t Lose Focus. Don’t Lose Commitment.
In any growing business, entrepreneurs are frequently forced to change or even digress from the business’ initial long-term goals to achieve short-term results.
While entrepreneurs stay agile and quick to react to changes, this does not mean change assures success. It is essential that we consider opportunity costs and how short-term changes may negatively affect long-term business goals.
A simple analogy! With all else constant, and assuming you are managing a platform as big as Facebook with a following of 2 billion users, would you make a long-term change that benefits 200,000,000 people or a short-term change for 2,000?
Look at the big picture and always stay focused. Constantly remind yourself of your initial (and most fundamental) business plan and goals: What’s the persona of my target audience? Am I going to change for the mass or for the individuals? How am I going to position and price my goods or services? Do I have plans to branch out into a different field in the years to come?
Stay committed. Never stop asking questions about what you do. If your business isn’t performing as well as expected, ask why, and ask how? Stop to think about your overall business commitments before hurrying to change.
Don’t jump the gun and don’t jump on the bandwagon blindly. Take some time to evaluate your operations and plans again to ensure you are ready – both financially and logistically – to take on new changes.
4. Don’t Lose Yourself.
Entrepreneurship is a long and arduous journey. The sacrifices and responsibilities that entrepreneurs have to shoulder often pose a threat to mental and physical health, pushing brilliant individuals off the cliff.
To put things into perspective, a research on entrepreneurs’ mental health characteristics by Dr. Michael Freeman showed that 30% of entrepreneurs were “more likely to report a lifetime history of depression” as compared to 15% of respondents who are demographically matched.
You may be wondering, “What – exactly – has this got to do with common mistakes that involve entrepreneurs?”
Well, oftentimes, work seems to be the only thing in many entrepreneurs’ minds. Have you ever experienced personally or observed other entrepreneurs cut back on sleep and even skip meals to work on tasks that are beyond “regular”? These lifestyle irregularities will eventually take a toll on a person; and evidently, when an entrepreneur’s unwell, the business takes a plunge too.
If you have followed the DC movies “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League”, you may be familiar with the state of justice after Superman died. Similarly, this reflects the correlation between the fall of an entrepreneur and the fall of his/her business.
Remember to take special care of your health in order to push further and farther on your journey.
5. Trust and Entrust Tasks to Your Team!
Trust and give your team members a reason to respect and grow with you. Nurture your team. Train them well so that the next milestone can be collectively achieved, together with each team member’s self-actualisation needs.
Some entrepreneurs worry about the unavoidable, such as losing tricks of the trade to their employees who may potentially bite back as direct competitors. The solution, then, is for them to take on all tasks on their own because there is a lack of trust.
If you guys have been following closely to the pointers above, I hope you are seeing a pattern here. When you start wearing a hat too big for your head, and taking on more than you can manage, the tasks begin to hold you down and hinder your path forward. This may ultimately lead to burnout and depression.
Don’t fall into this vicious cycle. Control the things you can; and whatever you can’t, try to put a positive spin to things. You will find the results of this more fruitful and rewarding in time to come!
Entrepreneurship is never smooth sailing; and many times, you may find yourself stuck in the rough. I hope all the brilliant minds and promising entrepreneurs out there bear these few things in mind:
- Don’t forget the passion that drove you to embark on this journey
- Don’t lose sight of your initial vision and hopes for your business
- Don’t give up on your people; don’t give up on yourself
- Don’t stop learning. Keep doing your homework, surround yourself with resourceful mentors and enjoy every success (small or big) that comes with the fruit of your/your team’s labour
All the best!
Managing Director of Pozento