As a new business owner, you’re bound to make mistakes. I know I’ve made plenty. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find a whole list of reasons that business fail. Many are obvious, including not enough planning, poor revenue model, no market research, etc. But others are less so.
Even after reading about all these mistakes, you’re still likely to fall into a few traps along the way. In fact, if you’re like most first-time entrepreneurs, you may have already fallen for one and just haven’t realized it yet. Here are seven of the most common mistakes I see business owners make.
1. Chasing Benjamins
Ask yourself right now (and be honest): are you in this for the cash? If so, it’s going to be an uphill battle. By focusing on extracting as much cash as possible from your customers, you’ll quickly blind yourself to what actually makes money: providing value. If you want to avoid this mistake, retool your efforts so you’re focusing on changing lives, reducing pain, or just making life easier for your market.
2. Shiny Object Syndrome
Another trap that catches many first-time business owners is pursuing too many things at once. It’s completely understandable — you have thousands of ideas and you want to do whatever you can to bring them to life. Unfortunately, dividing your attention like this is a surefire way to make your best ideas less powerful. Focus your energy on one thing at a time. Become the best at what you do in just one area.
3. Failure to Ship
In the software world, we call this having a “waterfall” mentality. You try to make sure everything is perfect before you go out into the market. You pay for a fancy logo, sharp business cards, and a snazzy website. The problem is, your first idea is rarely your best. The market will likely ask you to pivot, and if you’ve spent all your resources building the perfect product, you may unable to do so. If you’re not embarrassed to ship your product in its current state, you’ve waited too long.
4. Lacking a Vision
Business is exciting. You can’t wait to jump in and get your feet wet as you build your new venture. However, without a clear sense of direction, you’ll likely find it hard to pursue your passion efficiently. Instead, you may find yourself doing and building things that have nothing to do with your vision.
At MaxCDN, we quickly realized the importance of focusing on our mission statement. While we had originally started out with a clear vision, we never took the time to physically write it out. This meant that as the company grew, our vision became more watered down with every new team member. Eventually, we found our team wandering in different directions. We recently sat down and remedied this, writing a clearly defined vision and ensured 100 percent of our actions fell under its umbrella. This simple action has made a world of difference. In your own business, fight the temptation to “just get started” and do some planning. You don’t need a 70-page business plan, but I do recommend writing down your mission and vision for your company. This will keep all your efforts consistent and focused on a singular goal.
5. Fear of Failure
Success is simply the product of lessons learned through failure. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough. Try new things, experiment, break out of your comfort zone and challenge your team and yourself. After discovering 99 things that don’t work, you’ll stumble upon the one solution that does.
6. Wallowing in Impatience
So you had a great idea, started a blog, and four months later you’re not a zillionaire? Be patient. Unfortunately, with the hype surrounding entrepreneurship these days, there’s an expectation that it will be a quick rise to the top. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re interested in being a successful entrepreneur, prepare yourself for the long haul. Success takes time.
7. Management Woes
Just left the cubicle? Striking out on your own with more questions than answers? It can be hard, without prior experience, to suddenly be expected to manage a team. But if you’re going to make entrepreneurship work, you’ll need to get past your fears and learn to be the leader your company deserves. This becomes doubly important when you begin hiring (or promoting) your first middle managers who rely on you for guidance in their new roles.